BHPI was contacted by Sarah Carlson, executive director of the Historic Homestake Opera House located in Lead (Pronounced Leed), South Dakota. She indicated that some of the actors in plays and staff have witnessed strange activity.
We spoke to a few witnesses who told us while preparing for plays, they would see people walking past the doorways leading into the theater. These witnesses knew they should be alone, and when they went to investigate found no one in the building. Other witnesses claim that when they enter the basement, they get a feeling of being watched. Some have even claimed to have witnessed shadow figures. They also claim that at times they notice movement behind them on the stage. The dressing rooms located below the stage are also active, and witnesses claim to hear sounds of voices and movement coming from this area when no one is there.
The basement of the Opera House at one time housed a swimming pool that has now been covered with concrete to make room for offices and storage. However, the pool itself remains and those who have been in this area have witnessed what looks like an apparition of someone floating as if swimming.
Through our research we learned that Phoebe Apperson Hearst, the widow of George Hearst owner of the Homestake Mine along with the mine superintendent Thomas Grier conceived of the idea of building an opera house for the hard rock miners and their families.
The Opera House was built and opened its door in August 1914. It provided plays, and entertainment for miner’s families throughout the years. The Opera House was also used as a hospital when the influenza struck the Black Hills in 1918-19. There were records of deaths that took place in the Opera House during this dark time, but soon the Opera House went back to doing what it did best–provide much needed entertainment.
In April of 1984 tragedy struck when fire struck the grand structure. Many thought this was the end of the Opera House, but like a great phoenix rising from the ashes the Opera House was saved by Lead residents and is undergoing renovations.
The Opera House was one of the larger venues BHPI has investigated. With claims of activity taking place on each floor, we had to determine the best placement of our equipment. We decided to concentrate our efforts on those locations within the Opera House where witnesses reported the majority of the activity.
The theater being one of those locations was covered with two static IR (Infrared) cameras along with several digital audio recorders. We also placed digital audio recorders in the dressing room area below the stage. We placed a standalone IR camera and digital audio recorders in the pool area. Any additional audio recorders were carried by the individual investigators who also carried digital cameras. A hand held digital video camera with IR was used as well. After placing our equipment, we conducted a safety briefing and began the investigation.
Three investigators headed to the stage area while three other investigators headed to the pool area in the basement. The investigators on the stage reported they were experiencing strange activity toward the back of the stage and the dressing room area. As they investigated, they were able to debunk some of the sounds as creaking floors. One investigator thought he might have heard the sound of something moving in the dressing room, but when investigated, nothing could be located. However, when we analyzed the audio from the dressing, we distinctly hear what sounds like a piece of furniture being moved.
Meanwhile, the investigators in the pool area were experiencing some strange activity that they could not debunk. One of the investigators was using a thermal camera and captured what could best be described as a cold spot moving away from an investigator then disappearing. We tried debunking this video by recreating the conditions with flashlights and IR cameras, but nothing we did could recreate the anomaly that was captured.
The investigators on the stage realized that some of the activity reported came while people were on stage entertaining. Lucky for us, Sarah Carlson, Executive Director of the Historic Homestake Opera House was with us and she volunteered to stand on stage and sing. As Sarah sang, investigators noted several strange sounds and shadow figures at the back of the stage.
During this time, investigators in the pool area captured on video and audio a significant paranormal event. One investigator decided to sit farther up in what was once the shallow end of the pool. As he sat there we all heard a rock hit the floor. The investigator sitting told us that the rock had in fact landed very close to where he sat. As we looked for possibilities, another rock hit the investigator on the hand. Another investigator sat down next to this investigator and picked up a larger rock and tossed it into the shallow end of the pool and asked for whoever was throwing rocks to throw it back. Within minutes, a much larger rock was thrown back in their direction. In a period of less than ten minutes, we had three rocks thrown at our investigators.
The investigators at first thought the stones might be falling from the ceiling, but the ceiling of the pool is made of metal. We searched, but could not find a reasonable explanation for this incident.
Once the investigation came to a close we took our evidence and began analyzing our audio and video. We were surprised that we did uncover some interesting EVPs and video evidence.
We revealed our findings to the board of directors of the Historic Homestake Opera House. We did find that some of the experiences their staff has had can be explained by old flooring, however, we did have to concede that some of the claims were unexplainable. Based on this and our audio and video evidence, we believe the Opera House does experience a certain amount of paranormal activity.
Opera House Dressing Room Voice EVP
Opera House Voice and Movement EVP
Opera House Dressing Room Movement EVP
Opera House Boiler Room Voice EVP
Opera House Thermal Capture
Opera House Rock Throwing Incident
Opera House Photos
View of the stage where many report fleeting glimpses of shadow figures. The dressing room is located under the stage.