One of the great things about working for the Haunted History Trail of New York State is the interesting history you learn and places you get to visit. I have wanted to visit the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls ever since 2011 after watching a wild episode on “Ghost Hunters.” Lets just say, the show was so intense that it was voted by fans as one of the top all-time episodes on the long-running TV series. I have previously been to the theatre for some fun rock concerts, so it’s pretty interesting to discover there’s more to the Rapids Theatre than dancing along to the band Rusted Root.
Opened in 1921, the theatre was a luxury cinema called The Bellevue Theatre. It operated as a movie house for over 50 years, then the venue became a long-running series of night clubs beginning in the mid-1970s. In 2009 the theatre got a new lease on life when new owners took over and made many renovations. It is now one of the top concert and special events venues in Western New York. In fact, the mega-successful rock band Disturbed played the theatre a few days before our visit. As it so often happens, it was during the renovation process that strange activity started to happening.
Myself and a reporter were recently given a basement to balcony tour of the Rapids Theatre by general manager Marc Violino. It seems as if all theatres have good stories and this is certainly one of them. Rumors of a woman who supposedly hung herself after learning of her husband’s death in a war. Reports of apparitions moving about the places, including walking through walls. Then there’s the whistling. Marc told us he wasn’t much of a believer until he started hearing someone whistle a tune – it only last about five seconds. Especially when working alone in the theatre, he would continue to hear the whistling. He became a believer one night working alone at his computer when the whistling was “right next to me, about one foot from my head.” It was so real, it took him many moments to muster up the nerve to look to see where that noise came from. Of course, there was no one there. The basement area which can only be described as a series of tunnels and dungeon-like rooms were especially creepy. It’s no wonder then why we learned that the passageways are notoriously haunted. The venue has many more historical and ghost stories that we’ll let you discover on your own by visiting the Rapids Theatre.
What I also appreciated about Marc Violino and the Rapids Theatre is that they have collected a lot of history on the venue, trying see what clue’s are revealed in the building’s past. Through the information they have gathered, it’s easier to connect the dots and add validity to the paranormal reports. The Rapids Theatre has offered a few public ghost hunts. They are currently revamping their “paranormal” offerings to the public and will soon be letting everyone know how they can explore this majestic theater.
If you do visit Rapids Theatre, there are several other Haunted History Trail locations within 30-60 minutes of Niagara Falls. The Van Horn Mansion, Winery at Marjim Manor, The Pillars Estate, Iron Island Museum and Rolling Hills Asylum are a short ride away. Visit here to see more locations in the Greater Niagara region.