For more than a century, energy from entertainers, shop owners, customers, bootleggers and others has seeped into the bones of the former Opera House.
Now known as the Haunted Opera House, the building retains remnants of that energy — unseen and unheard to the average visitor.
“Activity is everywhere in the building,” said owner Dave Triska, a paranormal researcher for 10 years. “The first night, I saw more activity than anywhere else.”
Triska sells antiques on the first floor of the 1904 brick building, is renovating the second floor into living quarters and allows “ghost hunters” to use the third floor. Paranormal activity has been found on all floors, but the third floor — once home to a Masonic Star Lodge — seems to be most active.
Triska and others have encountered a hostile spirit on that floor — perhaps someone who used to be a “tyler” (or “tiler”), that is, a lodge member who kept unauthorized people away from the secret proceedings. Most of the activity, he said, seems to take place at the small room where the tyler would have stood guard.
“His job would have been very important,” Triska said.
Near the tyler’s room is a window overlooking Rossville to the south. Employees on break at Casey’s have reported seeing somebody in that third-floor window. One time, Triska had gone to Casey’s for a drink and was walking back to his shop when he looked up, and also saw a figure in the window. He rushed back to the building, thinking someone had broken in … but found no one.
“He’s steamed with me,” Triska said, explaining that the tyler may be upset that Triska is bringing so many people into his domain.
“I’ve been grabbed, shoved into the wall …,” he said, adding that he no longer goes to the third floor alone.