Growing up in a small farming town in Wisconsin, Dubuque was considered "the big city" for me. The historic buildings always caught my attention and awe, and I wondered what they looked like inside. I finally had the chance to see what the Grand Opera House looked like on the inside, but not as an audience member of a show—as a paranormal investigator. I’ve been there a few times now and each time the experience never disappoints.
The “hot spots” where I’ve had the best experiences are—the auditorium, the costume room, and one of the dressing rooms. I’ve seemed to have made a new friend during our investigations there. We haven’t been able to confirm his name through our equipment yet, but there seems to be a gentleman on the top balcony (right-hand side, looking from the stage) that watches us. On one of our investigations, I was standing on the stage looking around and asking questions when I looked up to the top balcony, and seated in the second row, the second chair from the bottom, was a shadow of a person. It was a male figure. I determined this by the head, neck, and broad shoulders. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was my first time actually seeing a shadow of a person. I closed my eyes and reopened them multiple times. He was still there, sitting. I looked away and looked back again multiple times, and he was still there. I started talking to him, saying hello, asking his name, etc. I then saw him wave at me. I saw his arm/hand come up and wave slowly, and I got so excited. I waved back and said hello. We were able to get it on the recorder of me saying “Hi there!” and a male response saying “Hello.” The next time I went to investigate he was there, and I saw him in the same spot briefly.
The costume room is another hot spot for all of us. I’ve experienced the floor shaking, quick flashes of light, and footsteps walking behind me while I am standing in place. One occurrence was when we were speaking with a male on our spirit box, as a male voice came through saying “I’m here.” He was making our rem pod go off on command. When I asked if that was him that was making the floor shake behind me, he responded, “That’s me.” I’ve also heard clothes being shuffled around and lots of shadows being seen in the back closet that is closed off.
The dressing rooms downstairs have activity also. One night while investigating, we were asking questions and had our video camera recording. After a review of the footage, while we were facing away from the clothes rack, you can see the hangers being slid over to the side. I’ve also experienced female whispering/conversations in that area. I can imagine what conversations have gone on down there over time with just the hustle and bustle of getting ready for a show.
The Opera House is a Dubuque Treasure. Not just for its long, rich history and amazing architecture. It’s also a special place for those who still reside there. They are always willing to wither “talk” to us or to make their presence known somehow. To them, the building could be frozen in time, and they continue to perform and work there. That’s something I think about while I’m there—what is happening on their end. It’s a special place to investigate, and I feel like we are welcomed when we come—especially when my new friend on the balcony comes to say hello.
- Alisha Friederick
Investigator, Transcendent Paranormal Society