Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Fulton Opera House

fulton theatre
Fulton Theatre

Lancaster's Fulton Opera House opened in 1852 as the Fulton Hall, and the "Grand Old Lady of Prince Street" has seen performances from Sarah Bernhardt, W.C. Fields, Al Jolson, Mark Twain, Helen Hayes, Marcel Marceau and Irene Dunne among others. It's a historic landmark and now is the home to several regional performing arts groups.

It's said that once you're inside the old building, you can hear the sound of phantom applause and the piano playing itself. It's supposed to be the home of several spooks, too. Two of the more famous wraiths are thought to be Sarah Bernhardt and silent film star Marie Cahill.

It's oldest phenomena dates back to 1763. The Fulton House was built partially over the foundations of the old Lancaster jail, which once housed 14 Conestoga Indians that escaped from the Paxton Boys massacre. They were in jail to protect them from the anti-Indian hysteria of the time, but it backfired.

A mob rushed the jail, took the Indians and then tortured and killed them. It's said you can still hear the screams of the Conestogas from the corner of the building built over the old prison's foundation.

So if you're there and hear an ear piercing note shatter the air, don't necessarily assume it's coming from the diva...

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