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Phantom of the Corning Opera

IPART find evidence of the supernatural at the Corning Opera House

Published: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 11:15 a.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013 12:02 p.m. CDT

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team of eight paranormal investigators confirm what some staff and contractors at Corning Opera House have suspected all along — they may not be alone.

On Friday, members of the Iowa Paranormal Activity Research Team (IPART) lead a paranormal investigation for a few curious attendees after an hour and a-half long presentation. During the presentation, lead investigator Dan Berger from Waukee explained possible causes of suspected supernatural activity, how the various equipment used in an investigation works and presented findings from past investigations in the form of photographs, video and electronic voice phenomena or EVPS from around the state.

Back story

Since the beginning of Corning Opera House’s renovation in the early 2000s, some visitors and staff have experienced events they cannot explain.

“There has been at least one death in the opera house,” said Corning Opera House board member George Hoerman.

Hoerman said an old issue of the Adams County Free Press newspaper said F.C. Reese, who owned the opera house building in the early 1900s, had a heart attack while installing a new heating system in the basement.

“Another story going around is that it was an explosion that killed him,” said Hoerman. “But we’ll probably go with what the paper says.”

Hoerman said, the owners of a neighboring bar, The Pub, have also experienced paranormal activity.

The Pub and Corning Opera House are separate buildings, but share a joint wall. The opera house, located on the second floor of the building, once had a storefront, in which a furniture worker, also the town undertaker, built caskets. A door on the second floor that was once used “possibly to move patients from the doctor’s office to the undertaker” has since been sealed shut.

The Pub

Diana and Kirk Hollander of Brooks, who currently own The Pub, purchased the bar in 2001.

Diana, who doesn’t believe in ghosts, said she doesn’t work late because of her paranormal experience in the pub.

According to Diana, she was behind the bar alone one day when the bathroom door started swinging open and closed. She immediately called her son Jeff Hansom, who, at the time, lived in the apartment above the bar.

“I said, ‘get down here RIGHT now!’” said Diana. “I swear, I was stone-cold sober.”

Hansom and his roommate also witnessed the door swinging before it stopped and cocked itself half open.

“That door was on a spring,” said Diana. “There’s no way it could have stayed open like that.”

Jeff took a plastic baseball bat and closed the door with it.

“I don’t care what anyone thinks because I know what I saw,” said Diana.

According to Diana, she has also observed a brief “fog” in the storage room and the televisions in the bar go static.

Kirk said he has never had any paranormal experiences in the building. When asked what he thought of his wife’s experience, he said, “I have no choice but to believe them. Three of them saw it.”

Opera house activity

Clark Jones and Josh Reich, both of Corning, who were electrical contractors at the opera house in 2008 experienced something they “couldn’t explain.”

According to Jones, Riech and he took a coffee break from working on a project when a burnt cigarette butt “came out of nowhere” and flicked Riech in the shoulder.

“We were both a little weirded out,” said Jones. “There was nowhere for it to have fallen from.”

But, when odd activity continued, they felt a bit spooked.

“The elevator would go up and down constantly,” said Jones. “We’ve heard voices and footsteps above and below us even though we were the only ones in the building.”

Andrew Heaton of Corning, who works as the audio technician at the Corning Opera House, said he gets a little uneasy at times in the building.

“The later it is, the weirder it gets,” said Heaton.

Heaton said, he has heard sounds and seen figures out of the corner of his eye he couldn’t explain.

Heaton said some of the noise is from the lights, which emit a soft buzz and the geothermal units make quite a bit of noise.

“It’s really weird when the noise goes away,” said Heaton. “Just silence.”

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