The King Opera House is a performance hall located on Van Buren, Arkansas's Main Street. Since it was built in the late 19th century, the opera house's stage has hosted many plays and performers. The King Opera House is a contributing property to the Van Buren Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ghost of the Opera House:
Believers in spirits have stated that a ghost will drift back to what anchored it to earth. From reports, taken from old local newspapers in Van Buren, a daughter of a local doctor wanted to join a traveling acting troupe. She was infatuated with the leading man & sought him out, expressing a desire to leave with the troupe the morning after their last show in Van Buren. A traveling salesman, who admitted to drinking with cronies in Main St. saloons, had an interest in the doctor's daughter and called the doctor around midnight (before the troupe was to leave the next morning) and told the doctor it was in the best interest of his family if the two met immediately at the depot on Main St.
The doctor was riled up by the salesman's statements that the actor was planning to steal his daughter away, which would lead her to rack & ruin, etc. Early the next morning, while it was still dark, the doctor arrived at the depot; he called out to the actor, who stood near the ticket window, and fired 3 shots: 1 missing the actor; 1 striking him in the back as he turned to flee; and 1, which lodged in his pocket watch. Less than 24 hrs. later, the actor died in a Ft. Smith Hospital. Subsequently, many have asked the question: What would anchor the spirit of an actor to Earth more than the theater in which he had last performed
Janice Ross, manager of the King Opera House, and the writer/director of an original play based on the legend, told the State Parks & Tourism Department that the actor's ghost was first seen by a musician and artist during the first production of the re-opened theater, which was purchased by the City of Van Buren in 1979. Other sightings, including one by the director of another play, have been cited as recently as 2000. At least one director is said to have also visited with the spirit.
The ghost is said to materialize, dressed in a top hat and Victorian style coat with a long cape. Ross stated that once, after all of the actors left from a rehearsal of her play and that only she remained, she felt as if someone else was in the theater with her. The feeling she described was "it was almost as if the hairs were standing up on the back of my neck!"
A movie, Step Into: The King Opera House, directed by Devon Parks, has been made by Mad Possum Productions and is up for 3 Mid-America Emmy Awards. The awards ceremony will be held on Oct. 3, 2015 in St. Louis, MO. A trailer for the Emmy nominated film can be seen on Youtube by running a search for "King Opera House movie trailer."