Capitol Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah

BUILT: c. 1912
OPERATION TIME: 1913 to present


The Orpheum Theater (now called the Capitol Theatre was first opened in 1913, and had “groundbreaking architectural designs” of its time since it used terra cotta as well as other materials that were not generally used. There were enough seats to have 2,000 viewers, and it had vaudeville acts twice a day.

In 1923, the theater was purchased by the Ackerman Harris Vaudeville Company. While vaudeville was very popular in the US, movies began to dominate the entertainment industry. In 1927, the building was sold to mayor Louis Marcus, who turned the theater into a movie and play theater. It was then he renamed the theater the Capitol Theatre, being that Salt Lake City was Utah’s capital.

Seating capacity was increased, a Wurlitzer organ was added, and the first “talkie movie” played in 1929. The focus of the theater between 1929 and 1975 was playing movies, but it did have the occasional travelling stage productions.

On July 4th, 1949, part of the Capitol Theatre caught fire. Even despite the huge blaze, the only casualty was that of the young new usher, Richard “Dickey” Duffin, who perished while saving those who were inside the theater at the time.

Now, he haunts the grounds and has been able to unplug extension cords, move lights, slam doors, and move the elevator up and down. Other occurrences include electronic equipment malfunctioning inside the theater when they were working fine prior to entering the building.

However, not all of the paranormal activity may be Duffin’s fault. An area next to the Capitol Theatre called the West Temple and 2nd South area has a haunted past as well. The areas banks and hotels are known for their spiritual idea. One such hotel was the spot of the murder of the Emanuel David family. A mother threw her children off the 12th floor of the site, and people can now hear a child screaming “Mom, don’t make me do it!”. Several other murders have taken place in the area.

In Popular Culture

  • The story was featured in SyFy Channel’s Paranormal Witness in episode “Capitol Theatre Haunting”.


  1. Forgotten USA. “The Capital Theater,”
  2. Paranormal Witness. “Capitol Theater Haunting,”



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17 Comments Add yours

  1. here2havefun says:

    Just watched a show about this on Paranormal Witness…that is one spooky place!


  2. Cristin Tibhitts says:

    Just a date correction. The Capitol Theater fire occured on July 4, 1949. Richard “Dickey” Duffin was the sole casualty.


    1. Thanks 😉

      Ghostly World
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      1. MIKE SAVARD says:

        Why did the actual picture that was shown, of the fire and the fire trucks that were responding to the blaze, during the interview with another original usher who started at the theater in 1948, have the date of the fire as happening on July 16/48. Almost a year later. I am full in agreement with the posting from popular culture write up that suggests that the hauntings are not all only the doings of just the hero Richard “Dickey” Duffin. May he rest in peace. I think he should have been awarded some type of medal for his heroism in respect to what he attempted to do at that terrible fire.


      2. I agree with you – both on the hauntings not all belonging to Duffin as well as Duffin being a hero.

        Ghostly World
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  3. Schatzman says:

    I too worked for Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office at Capitol Theatre. My first time in the basement I thought I heard a person whispering my name as I walked down a hallway to the bathroom. In the bathroom it felt really eerie. I thought I was just psyching myself out and tried not to think about it. As I opened the door to walk out of the bathroom I felt a hand rub the back of my head. In the following years I worked at the building off and on. After the opera “Carmen” in 2009-2010, I was locking the doors in the basement to the dressing rooms. I felt a strong presence and the hair on the back of my neck rose. I felt like I was being rushed by something. I looked down the hallway and watched a woman in a blue flowing dress walk from a cross connecting hallway and disappear through the wall. I never went into the basement again without the lights on. I was watching the cameras of the ticket lobby. Often when people walk by and cars pass them in the evening their shadows are cast along the interior walls. I observed a person which appeared to be filled in by the static of a television, walking down the center of the room. No headlights or lengthened shadows were cast on the walls. The figure walked into the ambient light from a television and disappeared. I had many other instances where I could hear dancers on the stage by the sounds of feet. The elevators would often be open on a particular floor, you’d walk to the floor above or below and the elevator would be there and open. One night I was working a group of paranormal investigators came in. I walked with them and we recorded opera music playing in loops in the orchestra pit. We also recorded a male growling in the spot light room. This building is often easy to read when you walk through the doors it was either peaceful or you could tell you were in for one crazy night. I am not some crazy individual. I now work for another law enforcement agency and am in the military. I still feel drawn to this building and often have nightmares that I am trapped inside of it.


    1. Wow…that’s really creepy and I’m really happy you shared your story. Do you mind if I post this as a ‘Personal Experience’ on my site?

      Ghostly World
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      1. Schatzman says:

        Please do.


      2. Thanks!

        Ghostly World
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    2. Dave says:

      My name is Murphy, and there’s a good chance I know you.
      I would like to speak with you if you don’t mind.


  4. Moody says:

    I worked as a night guard in 1995-96. I had some of the same experiences as other guards. The elevator opened without any buttons being touched. toilets flushing by themselves. I asked the chief of security if the elevator and toilets had auto flush or anything like that and he said no. I had several hair raising experiences while patrolling the theatre. usually in the basement, once i felt like someone brushed their hand up the back of my hair. i didn’t actually see anything, but it was a freaky place.


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