The “haunting” at the Wool Warehouse Theater

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During performances a man in a cream-colored double-breasted suit has been known to have appeared on the stage. The spirit seems to be pleasant and is known to happily watch the productions from the side of the stage. However, the stairs behind the stage that leads to the basement are thought to hold a more malevolent spirit.

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The first reported occurrence happens in 1985. There are a few variants, but the basic story goes like this;

 

“During the first production presented in the theater, the Stage Manager, Vicki, kept seeing a cream-colored thing go past her. Then at intermission, she went to check something on the left side of the stage. Then suddenly she saw the apparition of an immaculate, charming looking man who was wearing a cream-colored, double-breasted suit. He was standing right next to the prop table, happily watching what was going on. According to Vicki, he appeared to be very pleased with the theater production.

 

In the following years, employees and guests have felt hot and cold spots, and have actually felt a presence among them, watching them. Things and objects in the theater have gone missing, only to reappear in other places in the building. Employees avoided going down the stairs behind the stage area to the basement unless they really had to go there. It was reported that employees have felt a push from unseen hands while attempting to go down the stairs and had something grab at their ankles. Strange sounds have been heard coming from the walls as well. Cold spots and an eerie presence have also been felt by customers and employees.”

 

The unidentified ghost of a man in a double-breasted, cream-colored suit has appeared near the stage during performances, thought to be one of the men in the Bond Family. Eventually, the apparitional figure wearing the cream-colored, double-breasted suit is believed, to be Frank Bond himself.

Unlike many of the haunted places that I investigated, I have not been able to locate any newspaper articles that have suggested that the theater is haunted or any ghost stories coming from the Wool Warehouse. However, in the early 1990’s, the building has also been used as a Halloween haunted attraction that was called the First Street Morgue, and in 1996 the haunted house was called Screamworks. There are several books that mention the haunting of the Wool Warehouse; however, they contain the same basic information that I have already provided.

The story behind the paranormal phenomena at the theater appears to be highly exaggerated. It seems that there are many witnesses to several different kinds of ghostly phenomena. However, during six separate investigations, conducted between April 1993 and May of 1999, I was only able to find seven witnesses that have claimed to have had a firsthand paranormal experience. All the other stories about the paranormal incidents at the theater were second or third-hand accounts. Out of those six witnesses, four were merely low grade in nature, consisting of the sense of an unexplained presence or feeling cold spots in the building. So, the focus of future investigations was focused solely on the remaining two accounts. Both witnesses requested to remain anonymous, so they were given aliases.

The interview with “Hugo” was very insightful and provided some helpful information. He was assigned to watch the curtain (exit) on the south side of the stage (stage left) after several customers had attempted to exit the theater through this area. This hallway leads backstage and will take you downstairs to the lower floor (sometimes mistakenly called a basement). He also informed us that a homeless man had managed to wedge a piece of wood into the locking mechanism of one of the old freight doors and was entering the theater at night until he was caught by a manager that was running a “haunted house” in the basement area. He suspected that the man was also stealing food as he would have had access to the kitchen.

Another interesting revelation that came from the witness interviews involved the origin of the “malevolent spirit” that supposedly exists on the stairs behind the stage. There has only been one account of someone having their ankles grabbed while going down the stairs. As it turns out that was explained soon after it happened. An extension cord had been run from the first floor up to the second, and the unfortunate stagehand had gotten tripped up on the extension cord. However, this did not stop the account from making its way into various versions of the ghost story. Again, this is another effect of myth building. As the stories continue to be told, new ghosts start being reported to account for the “new” paranormal activity.

Indeed, myth building was already rampant by my third visit in 1996. There were now twice as many stories and all of them were second or third-hand accounts. Also, this location was included in the book “The International Directory of Haunted Places” by William Hauck, which had recently been published. This would have a substantial effect on the myth building as the apparition seen near the stage was suddenly switching suits, often favoring a black tuxedo instead of the cream double-breasted one. When major details of apparition sightings change like this, it is usually an indication that the stories are just passing from one person to the next as there are no additional witnesses or encounters to add to the story.

The first paranormal claim I decided to address was the apparition of a man in a cream-colored double-breasted suit. We had a hypothesis that this apparition was a customer that went backstage through the south curtain that covers the hallway next to the stage. Without having an employee watching the south curtain, it is quite easy to move backstage without being noticed by the staff. This concept was also confirmed during some of the interviews with the employees. They told me that this was an on-going problem as customers often had mistaken the south curtain as an exit. They eventually placed an actual employee behind that curtain to keep people from wandering backstage inadvertently. This may also account for the change in apparition’s appearance from wearing the cream-colored suit to wearing a black suit. More than likely the person in the black suit was one of the employees who was guarding the hallway.

Another interesting thing to note is how the sightings of the cream-colored suit were eventually replaced in favor of the black one. This change is the result of the storytelling among the employees. The stories were ultimately picked up by authors who had published the account which describes the apparition wearing a black suit. The descriptions of the suit-wearing ghost also vary significantly in the details of his facial features. One describes the apparition having a full beard, yet another describes the figure as only having a mustache. Again, it is self-evident that the witnesses are not seeing the same thing, and this lies in stark contrast to the historical figure of Frank Bond, who in photos from the historical accounts, is always pictured as being cleanly shaven.

The next paranormal claim that was addressed was the noises and disembodied footsteps that many people have claimed to have heard on the stage. After sound mapping the location, we have determined that the noises are caused by two things. The footsteps are caused by the presence of ice around the vents because the condenser coils were dirty. The fan was hitting the ice when the cooler was on. The repetitive sound resembles footsteps. The compressor also shakes when it turns off creating a rather strange, loud noise. The location of the cooler is underneath the audience seating area; however, the sound travels through an access hallway that leads into the theater. Due to the acoustics of the theater, the sounds seem to originate from the stage area if you are seated in the audience or standing near the north entry. However, if the doors to the auditorium are closed, the noises are not that audible. More than likely, this is what creates the illusion that it is something paranormal. These noises are hardly noticeable during the busy hours due to background noise. They are noticeable if someone is alone in the quiet building at night.

Finally, there is the sighting of the apparition that was seen by an employee of one of the haunted house productions that had been set up on the first floor of the warehouse. The most plausible explanation for this event was that the apparition was the homeless man that had gained access to the theater. This was also confirmed during an interview with the manager of the haunted house. In fact, his employee’s account is what launched the investigation that discovered the vagrant.

So, I do not believe that this location is not haunted. The ghost stories are kept alive today because they are told on the Albucreepy Ghost Tour.

References

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frank_Bond

Ghosts of Albuquerque, New Mexico – Legends of America. https://www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-albuquerqueghosts/

Wool Warehouse Theater, HauntedHouses.com, http://www.hauntedhouses.com/states/nm/wool_warehouse_theater.htm

FHR-8-300 (11-78). https://npgallery.nps.gov/pdfhost/docs/NRHP/Text/81000400.pdf

 

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