Akron Civic Theater

(Orig. Published 7/2002)

The Akron Civic Theater was built next to–and over–the Ohio and Erie canal in Downtown Akron in 1929. 

From a serious standpoint, it remains one of the true gems of Akron.  The inside is designed to resemble a Turkish Palace, and is lavishly decorated and sculpted, retaining many Art Deco features.  The theater itself contains a grand, full-sized organ hidden beneath the stage on a special elevator, elevating the organ in a Dr. Phibes-like fashion during  performances.   The ceiling was designed to resemble a sky.  Lights in the ceiling twinkled like stars, and special projectors gave the effect of clouds drifting across the ceiling. 

Currently, the theatre is undergoing expansive, much-needed restoration.

That aside, the theater has a long reputation of being haunted by at least three different ghosts.  The ghost of a loyal janitor is rumored to appear at the theater.  The spirit of a well-dressed actor is seen sitting in the balcony or lurking backstage during rehearsals.

Another legend holds that prior to the construction of the theater, a young woman committed suicide by throwing herself into the canal.  Some claim to have spotted her ghost wandering  the banks of the canal behind the theatre, escaping into the tunnel of the canal running under the theater if she is seen or if someone gets too close to her. 

An interior exploration of the theater was both fruitless and impossible at this time due to heavy construction.  However, we did manage to find and photograph the location of the “canal ghost.”


Exploration of the canal was very unpleasant.  Based upon the strong stench of the canal, only pure Akron-grade sewage passes through here.  Yum.  To be fair, when we weren’t breathing, the view of the canal was fabulous.

From a purely paranormal perspective, conditions for the manifestation of the “canal ghost” were ripe.  M-class solar flares were in full-force, geomagnetic fields were unsettled.  At the time of this visit, the Akron Rib Festival was underway, and Judas Priest (w/Tim “The Ripper” Owens) was scheduled to perform.  Hot Damn. 

Sadly, this proved to be too much for our lady, as she did not appear as hoped.

Another shot of the canal near the tunnel entrance.  The white haze in the left half of the photo is NOT “ectoplasm.”  Rather, it is simply hot, stinky steam rising up from the canal.


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