More than a ghost of a chance of being spooked in this theater

More than a ghost of a chance of being spooked in this theater

HILLSBORO, Ore. – Footsteps on an empty stage and strange voices whispering in the dark.  So what? The Venetian Theatre is 100 years old and has some creaks and strange sounds at night. But haunted?

"I could just hear the voices above my head," says Saxony Peterson, co-owner of the theater.

You can call them ghosts; some people call them apparitions, but just don't call the witnesses crazy, because they'll tell you they've seen ghosts walking around this theater.

"If I were listening to somebody tell this story, I would think you're crazy," Peterson says.

She knows the Venetian has a history. It burned down twice and was condemned for 15 years before her and her business partner, Denzil Scheller, took it over. In the five years since then she says she's had one too many times when who knows what scared the you know what out of her.

"I came into this bathroom," she says. "All of the sudden it just violently slammed shut. I was locked in the bathroom. That was pretty scary to be honest."

Scheller didn't believe in ghosts either until "I looked up in the projection room" and saw a man in the window.

There was no way anyone could get in without a key. On two separate occasions, Scheller went to check and couldn't find a soul.

"He was absolutely an apparition because there was absolutely nowhere for him to go," Scheller says.

Still not buying it? Neither did Scott Palmer, the artistic director, until he found himself all alone after a show in the theater late one night.

"And I heard someone in the theater say, 'Get out!' Literally heard a voice in the theater say 'Get out!' It appeared to me to be someone small with either white hair or white hat," Palmer says.

The old man had him running for the hills like a scared little girl.

"I was running pretty fast," says Palmer. "I haven't run that fast since I was in high school."

Palmer's in good company, though.

"We haven't had customers run out of the theater, but we have had paranormal investigators run out of the theater," says Peterson.

Peterson says the spirits are friendly but not shy.

"We've had wine glasses just shooting out of those (wine glass racks) and flying across the bar," she says. "Even the customers ask the servers, 'Was that a ghost?'"

It's a pretty standard question in a theater that will empty, the lights will go down, but where no one's naive enough to believe they're ever alone.

"I know for a fact this place is haunted," Peterson says.