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    "Death is no more than passing from one room into another." – HELEN KELLER

The Perot Theater

I don't often get an opportunity to write about a haunted location in my hometown of Texarkana, Texas, but I'm happy to introduce you to The Perot Theater. Originally the Saenger Theatre, it was built in 1924 and was designed by Emil Weil. It came with a price tag of $300,000, taking 17 months to complete.

The Saenger officially opened its doors on November 18, 1924; the first production was “Foot Loose”, starring Margaret Anglin and William Faversham. Over a 15 year span, the grand Italian Renaissance building hosted many performers including John Drew Barrymore, Will Rogers, Annie Oakley and Douglas Fairbanks. The plays and silent movies attracted many patrons until 1931 when it was purchased by the Paramount-Public Corp and renamed as the “Paramount”.

It offered many premieres including  "Papa's Delicate Condition," with Jackie Gleason, "The Legend of Boggy Creek," and Charles Pierce's "Bootlegger." During World War II, Orson Welles radio broadcast on NBC for war bonds was on the stage of the Paramount. However, its success began to wane with the popularity of television, shopping centers and drive-in movies. The Paramount closed its doors in March 1977.

Some buildings would be left to deteriorate as time passed it by. This theater would get another chance to provide Texarkana with art and culture thanks to the community. In December 1977, the city announced plans to purchase the building and begin raising money to restore it. They managed to raise $1.2 million but it was H. Ross Perot and his family who helped them reach their goal with a $800,000 donation. Perot is known for being a successful Dallas businessman as well two-time presidential candidate, but he was born and raised in Texarkana. Every inch was restored and in November 1979 renamed The Perot Theatre in honor of the Perot family. It remains open to this day hosting plays, symphonies, concerts and musicals.

This historic National landmark may also host performers who have chosen not to ever leave. Some have seen people not realizing they are of the ghostly kind and followed them in to walls. Witnesses have heard applause, whispering voices reading through pages of scripts, phantom swishing sounds of costumes and footsteps, Some have experienced doors open on their own and feelings of being watched late at night. Some have seen the spirits of a little boy and girl playing hide-n-seek. One spirit believed to haunt the theater is that of a former employee named Mitch who was fond of pranks. The Perot hosts ghost tours every Halloween to raise funds for the theater.

Sources:

Texarkana Gazette

The Perot Theater - Ghost Tours

ArkLaTex Homepage

Corpse Roads

Corpse roads were a means of transporting corpses from remote communities to cemeteries in parts of Europe. Many such roads have disappeared. In spirit lore, spirits, phantasms, wraiths, and fairies traveled the land along special routes. These such routes were believed to be straight and have something in common with ley lines. Mazes and labyrinths would hinder their movements. Spirits would fly along a direct course close to the ground. Any obstructions such as buildings, fences and walls were kept clear to avoid them. The roads would begin or end at cemeteries and thus believed to have similar characteristics to allow ghosts to thrive.

Corpses traveled along defined corpse roads to avoid their spirits returning to haunt the living. It was a widespread custom that the feet of the corpse be kept pointing away from the family home on its way to the cemetery. It was believed spirits could not cross running water. Often, corpses were taken over bridges in route to their burial.

Other beliefs include phantom lights. These lights were believed to be an omen of an impending death or sign of a soul leaving a body. Some believe crops will not grow where a corpse was carried across a field. Villagers in Manaton, England would carry a corpse around a cross three times until a vicar, irritated with the tradition, had the cross destroyed. On Dartmoor, the dead from remote moorland homesteads were taken along Lych Way to the Lydford Church. Some now see phantom monks in white and phantom funeral processions along this path.

Crossroads were seen as a place where the world and the underworld intersected. Because it was seen as a place of transition, it was believed to be occupied by special spirit guardians. Some thought the Devil could manifest at these intersections. Lore also states spirits such as suicides, hanged criminals, witches, outlaws, and gypsies could be bound at crossroads.

Corpse roads weren't strictly an European tradition. Such paths have been found in parts of China, Sweden, the Netherlands and Costa Rica.
 
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