ST. LOUIS — Staff members at the Stifel Theatre in downtown St. Louis have a collection of images – videos and photographs – they believe back up their contention that the building is haunted.
Senior public safety manager Eric Cornman showed 5 On Your Side a video he recorded inside the theater. It shows the back and proscenium of the stage and the facility’s ghost light. A ghost light is a lamp left on stage to shine light on the edge, so no one falls off of it.
“And this photo shows something really, really neat,” said Cornman.
It’s an image of what he believes to be a ghost.
“I took this picture, and I blew it up just to make it easier to see,” said Cornman.
“For me – I see bangs, curly hair, two eyes, a nose and mouth that appears to be smiling. I believe her name is Rachel. We see her and hear her all the time. I’ve had guests ask me about her. She’s been in the grand lobby area walking around, smiling, waving at people. She seems very friendly; doesn’t seem malicious, at all,” he said.
“Rachel” isn’t a name staff members assigned to the woman.
“Rachel is a name she chose, herself,” he said. “Paranormal investigators were here with a spirit communication session going on. She called out to one of the investigators. That initiated their conversation. The investigator asked what her name was, and she said ‘Rachel.’”
Cornman said before the building that contains the Stifel Theatre was built, in 1932, a woman was stabbed to death by her husband in a bar just down the street.
“We just associate that with Rachel,” he explained. “Rachel is here a lot. She’s been seen by guests; she’s been seen by employees. She sings, a lot."
“You can hear her,” he said. “Actually, it’s kind of pretty. She’s a good singer. She’ll sing warm-up bars and hum a lot. You’ll hear her up here in the balcony area, sometimes, if you’re up here by yourself and the lights are off. She’ll just start singing.”
Cornman said as recently as two years ago, riggers – some of the crew members for a Broadway show that was in town – said they saw a man wearing a coal-miners hat. It was the kind with the little candle up front. He was sitting above the stage in the rafters, where the riggers work.
“It spooked them to the point they both climbed down and quit before the loading out was done,” said Cornman. “They were pretty adamant. They weren’t going back up there.”
Cornman said it’s not uncommon to hear footsteps walking across the stage, from the trap room, located beneath, at a time when no one else is in the building.
“I had one security guard who was standing right here near the front of the stage, and he felt two hands on his hips pull him back,” said Cornman. “So, they were kind of protective at that point. They didn’t want him to fall off the edge.”
Cornman told the story about a recent yoga class that was held in the lobby of the theater. Afterwards, one of the participants approached him and asked who the woman was that she saw on the second floor, looking over the railing at the group, down below. Cornman said he suggested it might have been the group’s photographer, taking pictures.
The woman clarified.
“No, I mean the dead one,” she said.
The woman went on to explain that she believed she had the ability to see ghosts.
Cornman said staff members have quit after witnessing things they could not explain. On the Stifel’s new employee orientation, they even have a ghost tour, to prepare people for things they might witness.