Singing spirit haunts Constantine

Mike ErwinJournal-Capital
Singing spirit haunts Constantine

“Practice, baby. Practice.”

The resident spirit of the Constantine Theater may not be at Carnegie Hall, but she could know how to get there.

During an investigation earlier this year at the 101-year-old local opera house, visiting paranormal researchers claimed to have heard a woman singing from inside the empty auditorium earlier this year as they were performing experiments beneath the Constantine stage.

That revelation was made Saturday night during the premier showing of a film about the investigations that were conducted at the Constantine last March. Approximately 70 people attended the “Haunting History” event, which was presented at the local theater, 110 W. Main, by 4 State Paranormal — a team of experienced amateur researchers based in Noel, Mo.

The 4 State team discussed previous paranormal research they conducted at various buildings and cemeteries in Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri. Included among the sites are the Brown Mansion in Coffeyville, Kan., the Crescent Hotel in Eureka Springs, Ark., the Kendrick House in Carthage, Mo., and — now — the Constantine.

According to information presented in the film, the name of the spirit that haunts the Constantine may be Emma (or Emily), and is possibly connected with a Victorian-era woman who had been a proprietor at Pawhuska House Hotel from 1895-97. Pawhuska House was operated at the site from the late 1880s until the structure was transformed into a theater in 1914. The renovations were made by a new owner Charles C. Constantine.

While conducting experiments in the theater’s “Green Room,” two of the investigators — including the group’s founder, David Glidden — said they had heard the singing from just outside. When they went up into the dark and abandoned auditorium, however, the singing had stopped, Glidden said.

Later, when the team reviewed the audio recordings, a voice was heard to clearly say: “Come get me,” as the researchers headed out from under the stage. Attempts to establish further contact was mixed. When asked if she was not being allowed to leave, a negative response was reportedly ascertained. An affirmative reply was received to the question: “Are you stuck in the theater?,” however.

The “Haunting History” film on the Constantine is expected to be made available for review beginning this Sunday (Aug. 23) on the 4 State Paranormal website. (fourstateparanormal.net)

Garrett Hartness, the manager of the Constantine, was featured prominently in the film as he explained the building’s history and related unusual experiences he has had at the theater. (One revelation: The last movie shown at the Ki-He-Kah was “Night of the Living Dead.”)

Glidden said his team’s goal is to document (and, sometimes, to debunk) paranormal occurrences, as well as to help educate the general public regarding the phenomena. In that regard, the group hosts a weekly radio program from 6-8 p.m. on Sundays at blogtalkradio.com/4stateparanormal. The first half of the local presentation featured Glidden explaining paranormal research and past experiments by the team.

Following Saturday night’s local presentation, seven ticketholders were given the opportunity to remain at the theater as the team conducted additional paranormal experiments. Reportedly, spirit contact was claimed during the session — which lasted from around 10:30 p.m. until after 1 a.m. on Sunday.

Prior to Oklahoma statehood in 1907, Constantine — a Greek immigrant/entrepreneur — had erected a bakery on the lot adjoining the Pawhuska House. Constantine leased the hotel in 1910 and later purchased it. Following major renovations, the building was reopened in December 1914 as Constantine Theater — a grand performance hall decorated in Greek Revival Style, with seating for 715 and a 25-by-50 foot stage.

Constantine lost control of the theater in the late 1920s. After being operated for decades as a movie theater called the Ki-he-Kah, it finally closed in 1970. Slated for demolition, it was rescued by a group of local citizen’s in the late 1980s and restored as the Constantine Center. The theater regularly hosts both live events and movies. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.