Like many old theatres, the Rogers Theatre is no exception when it comes to claims of it being haunted. The theatre has been the site of various unexplainable phenomena. Apparitions, electrical disturbances, and the feel of veiled forces are all but commonplace here. Located in the historic downtown Wausau area, the theatre has played host to a variety of tenants over the years.
Built in the early to mid- 1920s, records show that the building was first utilized as Ammenthorp Tire Shop and Helke’s Funeral Home, which was later changed to Helke’s Furniture. These businesses operated there until approximately 1940. The building then lay vacant for a number of years; however, it was reportedly used as a brothel during that time. In 1945, it opened as the Hollywood Theatre and then in 1960 it became the New Wausau Theatre. In 1979, it opened as the Rogers Theatre and has been known by that name since.
Even though the theatre officially closed its doors in 2002, many feel that the building is still a flurry of activity. The Wausau Paranormal Research Society conducted an official investigation in October of 2003. Our findings were minimal; however, what drew our interest was the fact that many witnesses had reported similar incidents in the past.
Most of the reports seem to emanate from the basement auditorium. Former employees commonly referred to the spirit as “Bob.” One former employee reported that while working alone in the basement projector room, he saw a man dressed in a black suit cross the stage area. The employee checked the theatre, but no one could be found. He continued his work in the projection room only to be frightened nearly to death. When he looked through the projection window, the same man in the black suit was staring back at him.
Another account tells of two employees who were working in the basement auditorium removing rows of seating from the floor. Both men heard a thumping sound from the stage area, and when they looked up, they noticed that the first few rows of seats were bouncing. At once the men threw their tools to the floor and hurried out of the theatre only to be frightened by the seats rocking violently behind them as they ran.
On another occasion, a night manager was locking the front door for the evening when he was “pushed” from behind by imperceptible forces. Other unexplainable activities include: projectors shutting off simultaneously, lights being turned on and off by unseen visitors, and rapping noises that radiate from seemingly nowhere. Currently the theatre is for sale and remains vacant.
Written by — Shawn P. Blaschka Lead Investigator, Wausau Paranormal Research Society
THE FORMER ROGERS THEATRE
310 NORTH FOURTH STREET
WAUSAU, WISCONSIN 54403