I had the fortunate opportunity to investigate the Ritz Theater, located in Haddon Township, NJ, in June and October of 1999, and April of 2005. The Ritz Theater was an impressive “playhouse” theater built and opened in 1927 as a “vaudeville movie house.” In the 1950’s up until the 1970’s, The Ritz drew audiences from Philadelphia and the rest of the region, touting fine arts and foreign films. Then in the 1970’s, the theater was converted to pornography, showing movies for adults only. After the theater was rescued in the mid 1980’s, the establishment produced quality playwrights, winning awards, and received a non-profit status; taking it to where it is today as a quality stage style theater. Further, it is now registered on the National Register of Historic Places!
On June 12th of 1999, we were granted access to investigate this beautiful building. When I entered, I felt like I was transported back to the 1920’s. It still held the flare and feeling of those older times. We were met by the owner of the theater, Bruce, and shown through the building, from the basement to the light-room, and camera room. In the tour, we were told of the sightings of apparitions and other paranormal claims that came from staff and patrons. The reports ranged from apparitions walking up the stairs in the foyer, to music played in the theater. According to reports, this theater was active, and we were excited to dig in!
We set up our EMF Meters, Motion Sensors, and Black and White surveillance cameras, yes, techy! We then split up and walked through the building, doing baseline reading, and photography. Not overly exciting, I know. After the baseline, we hunkered down for the evening in the main auditorium to see if we could communicate via electronic voice phenomena, or EVPs, video, or audible.
At 12:19am, I was sitting at the stage area, and saw a figure walk past the windows in the rear of the theater in the concession area walking towards the stairs. This was in the direction of the changing room and light-room. I immediately alerted the team. Hildred remarked she saw the same thing. Meanwhile, Anne P, and Tom L, both reported orb activity in that area on the video camera. Then, to our amazement, both Hildred and I saw a white figure on the stairway through the windows. This time, I was able to capture a photo.
A minute later, Courtney, felt a presence to her back left at the front desk while she was sitting in one of the seats. Five minutes later, Dave J, stated he saw a figure sitting in the front row of the auditorium. Clearly, we were not the only souls in the building that night.
With all the activity happening around the stairs, a team of myself, Courtney, and Tim A, went upstairs into the green room, and light-room to follow up on our sightings. Courtney stated she felt a presence in the projector or light-room, and then felt something following her around the rooms. This happened at the same time that Dave was in the auditorium and witnessed another figure walking in the back of the theater directly under us.
The energy around my team eventually subsided and we went back to conducting a more systematic investigation. Throughout, different members of the team reported sporadic feelings of “people” watching the plays, heavy breathing (probably from the pornography days), and shadows. Around midnight, we were coming back down from the top floor green room area, when Tim A and Chris W who both had two-way headsets on, both said that they were picking up older music, more like 1920’s – 40’s style music, piano, etc. More incredibly, the team heard it faintly for several minutes. Soon the show was over and the ghostly audience seemed to have left for the night so our team packed up as well.
On October 8th, only 5 months later, we were invited back and excitingly accepted. This time, only the new team members needed a tour. So, while the tour was going on, myself, and a few others started setting up equipment. This time, the spirits were comfortable with us, and began interacting with us immediately. This time, we were ready. Soon, I saw movement towards the back of the theater again and was able to snap this picture.
A half hour later, as I was sitting in one of the seats, I saw out of the corner of my eye, movement walking towards the back of the theater. I immediately swung around and took this photo.
Courtney felt there was someone at the control panels behind her as I took this photograph. There was also a cold spot around her. She called out for me to take a picture, and captured this orb.
Orbs are most of the time, dust, dander, etc. But in some instances, there is direct correlation with spiritual activity. With this sort of corroborating evidence, the appearance of orbs in photographs is more likely to be ghostly evidence. The last spark of activity was at 1:42 am. I was sitting in an aisle seat and felt a brush of cold breeze fly by in the direction of the rear of the auditorium. A second later, Jeff W, sitting behind me felt the same brush. I quickly stood up and snapped this photo.
Busy with other investigations, I did not return to the Ritz for some time after that. Five years later, in 2005, Anne P contacted me and was wondering if I wanted to take a team back into the Ritz. I could not say no! We immediately fell back in love with the place! It had not really change much in five years.
The new investigators were given the tour, as I walked around getting into my sixth sense groove, seeing if I could notice anything. As many investigators will admit, with time, it is common to become more sensitive and I was no exception. On the left-hand side of the Auditorium looking at the stage, I experienced an overwhelming feeling that I was being watched by several spirits. I detected a male sitting in one of the seats up front to the left looking at the stage. This individual’s name was Michael. He had a mustache and looked as if he had a top hat or older styled hat. He was a white male, with black hair, and a grin on his face. I picked up he had died from a swift strike, or a fall from something.
As I sat on the stage, I felt a female directly adjacent to the main foyer to the left door as I was looking towards the main foyer (concession). This female was a Caucasian Female, older Victorian Style dress, wanting attention. She was a glamorous star of the stage and wanted to be remembered by that. She walked around the main foyer and the stairs around the foyer. She may have been the one I saw several times in the past! Also, she liked to frequent the stage.
When I walked around to the right of the auditorium looking at the stage, I noticed three males sitting together. They were three individuals who did not like each other. They seemed to have died in some sort of multiple deaths incident, as if they all died around the same time. No further info on them. I then went with Kevin M to the backstage area and took some pictures. I then noticed the right side of the stage looking at the stage, I felt an overwhelming force, as if something major happened in that corridor.
Later in the night, I accompanied the Soul Trackers investigators in a Strip/Grid search of the auditorium. We did everything by the book, walking through the aisles, and seeing if we could sense or stir things up! We received 50% positives throughout the auditorium and towards the stage while doing this technique. Some of the evidence is below.
Overall, the Ritz is an incredible location, full of history and the paranormal. Trapped with lively energy of the audience of the past, there was a little bit of everything, residual, intelligent, and energetic!