The haunted history of Austin’s Paramount Theater
(ABC 6 News) – As Halloween closely approaches, many are looking for early thrills at some local haunted places.
There are some in our area, but perhaps the most popular haunted building is the Paramount Theater in Austin. As legend has it that three spirits roam this old theater, and one of them was discovered as recently as 2012, which by your typical haunting standards, is fairly young.
Having been one of the most recognizable buildings in downtown Austin for decades, people in town are still unfamiliar with the fact that their oldest theater is haunted.
The Paramount Theater has stood for nearly 95 years and the home to almost every type of entertainment imaginable. From movies to theater to live music, and even a short-lived disco club. During that brief disco club is when the Paranormal encounters at Paramount began.
American author Michael Norman had spent over 30 years collecting stories on non-fictional ghost encounters real people have had. He collected a story on the Paramount Theater in his 2009 book, The Nearly Departed. The book recounts the first known encounter with the ghost during the disco club era.
“A manager during the bar era was cleaning up late one night. She was alone when she heard someone walking toward her across a creaking wood floor that was installed over the old theater seats. She turned around to see who it was. A bar stool was spinning at the far end.”
Lora Lee Bauer, a member of the Austin Area Arts, recounted this story on Sunday when ABC 6 toured the theater.
“It was never known if she came back at all. When you’re in this big space here alone, you know, you’re really alone and it gets quiet,” said Bauer.
Barstools moving by themselves, translucent figures during Christmas, and even an alleged ghost tormenting a former manager, with a dislike to his music choice.
The case of the music happened in 2006 when Scott Anderson was spending time cleaning the Paramount before open. Anderson, could not be reached for comment on this story, but the Nearly Departed, recalls his encounter with the ghost that is believed to be the Paramount’s original owner, Karl Lindstadet.
“He slipped a Steely Dan CD into the theater’s sound system. But then he noticed something odd was going on with the Steely Dan recording. The volume had been slowly turned down,” said Bauer.
“I could still hear the music,” Anderson told Norman. “But it wasn’t nearly as loud. I wondered what happened.”
“The sound board has sliders that move up and down so that an operator can set each audio input at a specific point. Although several other sliders remained where Anderson had locked them into place, he says the CD volume control had been ‘definitely moved” to make the music softer.”
Bauer was neighbors with Anderson in Austin before he moved to Fargo. She recalled him telling the story to her shortly after it occurred in 2006.
“It wasn’t open at the time, but he was working, and suddenly he didn’t hear it anymore. He went to the sound board, the music, the volume level was turned all the way back down,” she said.
At the time of Anderson’s encounter with the alleged ghost of the Paramount’s original owner Lindstatdett, there was only one other possible spirit with him. This spirit was believed to be the ghost of George Dorn, one of the first projectionist at the theater.
Since Bauer was a kid, she always helped her uncle Alvin Red Wing with his job as the assistant projectionist at the Paramount. He would reward her help with a basket meal from Tendermaid Hamburgers down the street.
Red Wing died in 2012. Shortly after his death a paranormal group from Dakota County investigated the theater. Their investigation led them to believe there was a third spirit there. Many, including Bauer, believe the third spirit is Red Wing.
“I’m pretty sure that, that’s my uncle because I don’t remember anybody else working here with that name,” she said.
An encounter that Bauer’s 21-year-old grandmother had with a ghost at the theater a few years back, leads them to believe this.
“She was cleaning between the seats and she was halfway through and she just dropped everything and away she went. And nobody could figure out what that was about because that just wasn’t like her to do that. And it took me quite a while before I got her to admit that the reason she did that was because she heard giggling on the stage,” Bauer shared.
The Austin Area Arts has month long tours available at the Paramount on it’s haunted history. The final tour takes place on Friday, October 27, from noon to 5 p.m. You can sign up for a tour through the Austin Area Arts website.