Saturday, October 8, 2016

St. John Theatre - Reserve, LA (What Causes a Haunting?)

115 West 4th St.
Reserve, LA 70084

            From the largest cities to the smallest towns, Louisiana has a vast and eclectic amount of theatres. Some may be grand multi-tiered and greatly ornate venues that hosts the biggest productions featuring the top stars of today, while others may be no bigger than your living room with milk crates for chairs. Whatever the case may be, you are likely to be equally entertained with both extremes. As a child, there was a movie theatre in my home town that was so bad, it was worth going, because you never quite knew what you would encounter. What they called new releases were already on VHS, your feet stuck to the floors from the filth and if you didn't get a staph infection from the chair springs sticking you in your legs, chances were you already had it form getting bit by one of the cat-sized rats that often scurried across the floor. I use the term “scurried”, yet “slowly crept” was more like it, as they had feasted for so long on candy and popcorn, they couldn't quite get around like they used to.
            Pardon me for my wild tangent, as I often have the tendency to veer off topic. Nonetheless, our next location is one of these small hometown theatres but I can assure you, the conditions inside are nowhere near the old theatre I used to visit. In the small town of Reserve is a local theatre that has long been a source of great entertainment for the local community. The theatre was built in 1931 by Louis J. Maurin, Sr. and was originally opened to play motion pictures, or “talkies” as they were often called during these times. In 1954, a large remodeling took place and the venue was renamed to Maurin's Show Place of the River Parishes. It continued to feature the latest movies of the times until its doors would shut down on May 27, 1979. Fortunately, the closure would not last too long. On May of 1980, the St. John the Baptist Parish Council purchased and renovated the facility as a live-theatre venue and leased it to the Cultural Center Committee. The venue, now named the St. John Theatre opened in July of 1981 with the staging of the musical, "South Pacific," and has operated ever since, producing and presenting live-theatre and cultural events for the residents of the local community.

            People have often asked me why are so many theatres haunted? To be honest, who the hell knows! Some say it is due to all of the electrical equipment that serves as a makeshift electromagnetic barrier, virtually containing the energy of lost souls within the local vicinity. Maybe it's my Cajun brain that doesn't quite think that deep, but I feel they simply haunt the place because they liked it when they were living. This was a place that meant a lot to them growing up. It could be where they watched their first film, went on their first date, had their first kiss, you name it. Such can be said with many locations that are haunted for no apparent reason. I would like to think that you have learned at least one thing since you have been reading these blogs. Well, maybe two or three, but my horrible diarrhea of the mouth and tasteless jokes can be touched on at a later time. What I hope you have noticed so far is that a location does not have to be home to some grizzly murder, horrific suicide, or other traumatic events to cause it to be haunted.
            Such is the case with the St. John Theatre. Other than the building being haunted by the original owner, none other than Mr. Maurin, many feel that the theatre is haunted by several children. The apparitions of these children have been witnessed inside and outside the building and the sounds of them laughing and playing have been heard when no one else is around. Other poltergeist-like activity has been reported such as locked doors opening on their own or closing by themselves, along with the sounds of disembodied footsteps.
            Allow me to take a brief moment and really push your critical thinking skills to the limit here. Just because a theatre is haunted by a child, does it necessarily mean that a child died and was attached to the location in the first place? Could a person die as an adult, yet choose what form or age they return as? Before you start throwing rocks, shoes, or your pet hamster at me for such ridiculous claims, stop and tell yourself, “We are talking about ghosts. Some people may think we are already crazy!”  It's these kinds of questions we as investigators ask ourselves on a regular basis. What makes a location haunted, how do ghosts exist, where do they come from, do they know they died, did I leave the oven on, did I flush, you get the picture!
            Our South Eastern chapter which covers the Baton Rouge and surrounding areas were fortunate enough to conduct an investigation of the St. John Theatre. They would be quite intrigued as to what they would capture and experience on their first visit. As I've mentioned, it takes a good bit of luck to obtain potential evidence the first time you visit a location which is why we rely so much on the importance of follow-up investigations. About midway through the investigation, one of the group members saw an anomaly behind the stage from the dressing room area. It appeared to be a shadowy figure, casually roaming around. At the same time, another investigator heard footsteps also coming from the stage area. This was near the same vicinity as the shadow. Later in the evening, two of the investigators were walking through the projector room when they heard what sounded just like a child’s laugh. Fortunately, the young voice was simultaneously captured on one of our digital voice recorders and is available to listen by clicking HERE.
            We have not had the opportunity to conduct our follow-up investigation but it is greatly warranted and much desired. Unfortunately, we all have jobs to go to and additional mouths to feed. Since we never solicit a dime from our investigations, we cannot always investigate as often as we would like. Additionally, when you cover the entire state of Louisiana and you are constantly handling private residence cases coming in while also marking off locations that were on our “to-do” list, we often lose track of time, along with follow-ups. There are only so many hours in the day and so many people in the group. Until we return, the carefree spectral youth of the St. John Theatre continue to wander around as they once did, cutting up in the balconies and talking during the shows. At least they don't do as I did as a kid, shooting popcorn kernels from straws and purposely overflowing public toilets! I was such a brat!


  1. I am a deputy in St John Parish I worked the Reserve area for several years rotating night and day shifts on patrol. I had never heard any stories about the theatre until one night probably around 2002. That particular night close to 2 a.m. I turned from river road onto West 4th Street passing the theatre. As I passed I observed a young girl with dirty blonde pig tails wearing a flowered dress standing next to the ticket booth. I turned my patrol car around and stopped to address the child. As I walked towards her she began to skip down the sidewalk going towards a fence which borders the back of the theatre. I yelled for her to stop but turned right going behind the theatre. Once I got back there I couldn't find her anywhere. I called my sergeant on the phone and told him what I had. (i didn't want to put it on the radio I thought I was going nuts). My sergeant told to wait for him he arrived and told me that I had seen a ghost. Apparently over the years and I stress years more than one officer has seen something or heard something at the theatre. I haven't seen it since.