PRS investigates Town Theatre in downtown Columbia, SC
December 29th, 2020
Covid-19 has disrupted life across the globe, even for paranormal investigators. On any given month throughout the year, famously haunted locations that rent their facilities enjoy sold-out weekends. Many paranormal organizations that host events have had to adapt. PRS originally planned to host paranormal outtings every two months in 2020, but Covid forced that to change. With public gathering restrictions in place in all states, PRS dropped event plans for the remainder of the year. However, a small group of PRS supporters were able to safely gather for an end of year celebration in December in Columbia, SC. The group privately rented a house on Lake Murray and conducted a socially distanced investigation of the Town Theatre downtown.
“Despite having to completely drop our plans for the year, it was really nice to be able to end the year with a ghost hunt,” said Ryan Buell, Director of PRS.
Adds Waleska, a regular attendee from California, “to me it was a relief and escape from stress at work and home. The pandemic isn’t going to go away any time soon but it felt good to have my focus on friends and the paranormal rather than on the news.”
PRS capped the investigation at 10 people. On Friday, the team showed up at the Town Theatre, which is rumored to be haunted by the spirit of a little girl named Alice. A staff volunteer let the group in and gave a tour. She described actors having a variety of experiences in the building. Some claimed to hear voices, others said items were constantly being moved. Overall, the phenomenon appeared to be rather benevolent.
“A lot of theatres have very similar ghost stories,” said Buell. “A theatre has a very specific purpose and therefore, it can attract certain energies.”
According to staff, activity happened primarily in the basement and around the stage. Investigators took turns venturing into the basement alone. Each investigator was given 15-20 minutes of solo time.
One investigator, Jamie, claims she had an experience towards the back of the basement where the theatre housed the costumes. “After about five minutes of sitting in complete silence, I heard footsteps,” she said. “I decided to stand up so I wouldn’t scare anybody coming down into the basement. But nobody came.”
The bulk of the nights activities, however, happened on the stage in front of several investigators.
Two investigators, Waleska and Kimi, sat on the stage with their digital recorders while other team members stationed themselves throughout the audience seating area. The investigators attempted EVP communication (NOTE: EVP communication is the practice of trying to communicate with spirits with a voice recorder. The investigator asks the spirit a series of questions. At the end of the session, the investigator plays back the audio recording. Paranormal researchers have reported hearing voices responding to the questions on the recording. Voices/responses they didn’t hear with their physical ears at the time. Hence, it is believed that spirits are sometimes able to be heard through electronics).
Both Waleska and Kimi wore headphones and were able to listen to EVP recordings in real-time. The pair asked a variety of generic questions such as “can you tell us your name” or “are you from here?” Since the staff claimed that the spirit is a little girl named Alice, investigators also took turns directing questions to an Alice. At one point, the team caught the sound of a little girl giggling as they asked questions.
The most impressive piece of evidence occurred towards the end of the night. Kimi headed backstage to ask questions, while Waleska stayed up front. Waleska announced that the team was about to head out and Kimi started walking back to the front. Kimi then heard what sounded like a girl saying “don’t go!”
“I was shocked,” recalls Kimi. “I really didn’t expect to hear anything.”
After the investigation, the team tried to do some quick digging to see if they could verify the identity of an Alice associated with the historic building. Some suggested that Alice is Alice Sloan. According to some records, the Town Theatre sits on the property where an old, two-story house used to be. This house was known as the Sloan House and it served as the theatre for the first few years. Later, after the theatre raised additional funds, they build a new theatre on the property. To date, however, the investigators still haven’t been able to find any trace of an Alice that has any significance to the property.
However, lack of historical evidence doesn’t immediately disprove the possibility that the spirit could a girl named Alice, claims Buell.
“Sometimes legends are created and they expand over years and decades,” he said. “There’s a theory in the paranormal called ‘thought forms.’ Essentially, a group of Canadian investigators sat around and created a fictional character named Philip. They gave him a back story and they focused on him for long periods of time. Later, they brought in psychics and the psychics claimed they were in contact with a spirit named Philip. Through the medium, Philip would answer questions that were accurate to the story made up about him. So, in regards to the Town Theatre, it’s possible that people had a few genuine experiences years ago and someone suggested that it was a ghost named Alice, and it took on a form of its own.”
Buell hopes to one day return to the Town Theatre and conduct a more thorough investigation.
“It was nice to do an investigation in downtown Columbia. I know this city has to have other legends, but so far it’s been hard to find them. Then again, I had the same problem while we were up at Penn State. There were only a couple little stories, and over the years we uncovered more.”
Ghost hunting aside, the attendees all agree that it was fun to be able to take a break from the real world and hang out with other paranormal enthusiasts.
“Despite all the horrible things happening in this world, the afterlife never fails to surprise you,” said Waleska. “Ghost hunting at the end of the year brought me a little normalcy back for Christmas.”