Ghosts at the Congress Theatre?

We’ve covered the Congress Hotel, its fascinating history, and its supposed ghosts, frequently here. But the Congress Theatre? The one that was on Ghost Hunters lately? We’ve never mentioned that.

That’s because it’s never really been thought of as a haunted location around the city before. None of the other ghost tour guides in the city had heard about it, either.

That said, though, had anyone asked me, I would have assumed the employees here had a ghost story or two to tell. As Jim, a lifelong theatre employee who works on our team, says: “If you ask a theatre person to tell you a ghost story, they WILL do it.” There’s hardly a theatre in the city that isn’t said to be haunted. However, stories to back up the hauntings at the Congress Theatre seem awfully flimsy – the old “the mob used to meet in the basement” story goes around here in Chicago even more that the ol’ “Indian Burial Ground” story. And, of course, all old theatres are full of strange noises and dark corridors and basements, and most have bars. Selzer’s First Theorem (which I suppose I can call this now, since it’s been published in a book available at most major bookstores) states that any vaguely spooky place where people get wasted will eventually show up on a book, tv show, or website about ghosts. It just took this one longer than most.

I’m not saying the place ISN’T haunted or anything – I’ve never been there, so I shouldn’t really pass judgement. But it certainly seems like one of those places that people say is haunted just because it looks like it ought to be – or, in this case, because it would look good on TV.

I’m not the business of criticizing TAPS or anything (I don’t really watch the show very often), but I certainly have gotten the impression that The SyFy channel is starting to pressure the TAPS crew to find stuff wherever they go. You have to take ANY ghost hunting tv show with a certain grain of salt – no matter how honorable the intentions of the actual investigators are, they still have to filter their shows through the suits at the network who usually have a final say in how the show is edited. I’ve always had a pretty good idea that if I were more willing to say places were really, truly haunted and risk looking like a jackass, I’d be making a lot more money in this business.

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8 thoughts on “Ghosts at the Congress Theatre?

  1. Never heard of it being haunted and it's never come up. "Cursed" has a snipit about it. I think the student talking about it was more into talking (eg, all of a sudden it was warm… um, aren't ghosts associated with cold?? And the misuse of the word irony…egad).

    Another funny part was Brian saying it was March and bugs aren't a factor in Chicago. Um, bugs are around throughout the year, dude!

    At least they're not nickel and diming people to do ghost tourst. They could for restoration costs. Hmm.. I do love a good movie palace!

  2. Never heard of it being haunted and it's never come up. "Cursed" has a snipit about it. I think the student talking about it was more into talking (eg, all of a sudden it was warm… um, aren't ghosts associated with cold?? And the misuse of the word irony…egad).

    Another funny part was Brian saying it was March and bugs aren't a factor in Chicago. Um, bugs are around throughout the year, dude!

    At least they're not nickel and diming people to do ghost tourst. They could for restoration costs. Hmm.. I do love a good movie palace!

  3. Never heard of it being haunted and it's never come up. "Cursed" has a snipit about it. I think the student talking about it was more into talking (eg, all of a sudden it was warm… um, aren't ghosts associated with cold?? And the misuse of the word irony…egad).

    Another funny part was Brian saying it was March and bugs aren't a factor in Chicago. Um, bugs are around throughout the year, dude!

    At least they're not nickel and diming people to do ghost tourst. They could for restoration costs. Hmm.. I do love a good movie palace!

  4. Never heard of it being haunted and it's never come up. "Cursed" has a snipit about it. I think the student talking about it was more into talking (eg, all of a sudden it was warm… um, aren't ghosts associated with cold?? And the misuse of the word irony…egad).

    Another funny part was Brian saying it was March and bugs aren't a factor in Chicago. Um, bugs are around throughout the year, dude!

    At least they're not nickel and diming people to do ghost tourst. They could for restoration costs. Hmm.. I do love a good movie palace!

  5. I have never been to the Congress Theatre but I am writing a book on the paranormal and need any evidence that I can include in my book on this location. If anyone has witnessed activity there, contact me, please, and tell me your encounter. seekingghoststories@hotmail.com. Thank you. I could not determine from GH if Congress Theatre was haunted or not. Need more evidence.

  6. I performed there in 1995.

    In preparation for the event, I spent many LATE evenings there with Art the former maintenance man (now deceased) and his friend Fred… also deceased. In 1995 they had co-owned, operated and maintained the Kimball Pipe Organ that was in the theatre.

    I toured almost 100% of the building and it's catacombs and never felt uneasy.

    If there was anything going on, I probably would have felt it. I have felt uncomfortable in many locatons, even one time running out of a house my wife and I considered purchasing, but I " almost " never felt anything uneasy at the Congress.

    Keyword – – – almost

    There were " TWO " occurrences that I still question.

    One time under the main floor below the stage area. While all that was there were old seats removed to install a dance floor, the stale air and total quiet of that area gave off an uncomfortable
    feeling. Not spooky but just eerie.

    The 2nd time however 'was' spooky.

    We started to ascend the stairs going up to the multiple dressing rooms back stage. I believe the first 3 floor were remodeled. But when we went higher, we all felt (at the same time) the need to turn around and go back down ASAP.

    Except for the dressing room incident, overall I don't thinks it's haunted… But I'm no expert.

    If anything would have resurrected ghosts, the pipe organ would have.

    Because of the original accoustics of that facility, the Organ created a sound was beautiful and unbelieveable. You had to hear it as I can't even describe the sound.

    Sadly however the organ was dismantled and sold for parts after Art passed away.

    Today, if you look up at the ornate ceiing and walls or the balcony, you know where you are.

    But now…the main floor is totally gutted of the original seats. and looking more like an old factory than an old theatre

  7. Well i somehow believe in ghosts.And i have seen on TV about the ghosts of Congress Theater. I have not been there so i don't think there are any ghosta but i can't judge……

  8. This place is soooo haunted. When I went there I had a very creepy paranormal experience about 6 years ago. I never could find any information about it until I saw it on TV. I walked out of the second floor woman's washroom and I heard someone shout into my left ear "Hey I think we got him!" As I walking quickly past the stairs I felt an impact in my chest that stopped me in my tracks. I think I was metaphysically shot in the chest. No an everyday occourace for me.

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