Disembodied voices. Strange lights. A file drawer opening on its own.
So, is the Morton Theatre in downtown Athens haunted, as numerous stories told over the years would attest?
Well, maybe, according to a report from Ghosts of Georgia Paranormal Investigations, which uses an array of electronic equipment to investigate unexplained events.
After spending the evening of Oct. 11 and the early morning of Oct. 12 in the century-old building at the corner of Washington and Hull streets, and hearing and seeing some anomalous occurrences, the GOGPI team reported: “With the claims of activity, personal experiences by the investigators, the EVP’s (electronic voice phenomena) that were recorded we feel like there is paranormal activity in the Morton Theater. We cannot say it is haunted without a follow up investigation to see if we can reproduce the claims of activity, personal experiences, and to gather more evidence of paranormal activity.”
It’s not clear whether Athens-Clarke County officials will ask the paranormal team to return to the theatre.
“I can’t say we won’t, and can’t say we will,” said Jeff Montgomery, the county’s public information officer.
Staff from the county’s public information office were on hand in the theater for the October investigation.
If the team is invited back to the theater, their work won’t cost the county, Montgomery said, as was the case with GOGPI’s October visit. According to Montgomery, the team likes to document repeated instances of unexplained phenomena before declaring whether a venue is haunted or not.
The team’s work in the Morton Theatre can be seen in a 29-minute documentary now airing on ACTV, the government-access cable TV channel, which is Channel 180 for Charter cable subscribers. The documentary airs daily at 1 a.m., 5 a.m. and 9 a.m., and at 1 p.m., 5 p.m. and 9 p.m. Also, the full GOGPI report on the Morton investigation, including photographs and audio recordings of some of the phenomena observed, is available on the county’s website at http://bit.ly/1xX7XGE.
Equipped with a number of still cameras and video cameras, including some infrared equipment, along with audio recorders, thermometers and electromotive force meters, the GOGPI team actively investigated the Morton Theatre from shortly before 10 p.m. on Oct. 11 to shortly after 4 a.m. on Oct. 12.
In addition to noting the group’s general findings — a “blue orb” and a “dark mass” captured photographically, and numerous voice phenomena (“most of them ... in response to our questions”) — the report included personal experiences of the investigators.
One investigator reported hearing “a disembodied voice say ‘hey, hey, hey’ in a loud whisper type voice,” while another reported that “while setting up my computers ... a file cabinet drawer opened on its own.” Other anomalies included hearing a voice in the upper balcony, and seeing a “small human shaped shadow.”
Whatever spirits may wander in the Morton Theatre, the report included reason to believe they aren’t malevolent. One of the investigators wrote, “The theater feels great ... really good energy and appears a happy place and well balanced. No bad vibes at all in the theater.”