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Plaza Theatre

The historic Plaza Theatre

The historic Plaza Theatre offers over 90 years of El Paso entertainment and history. A smattering of spirits remain behind in El Paso’s most haunted theatre. Plaza Theatre was named one of the five most haunted places in Texas. Making the building an important stop on any ghost tour. 


The Plaza Theatre was almost demolished in 1986, but El Paso came together to save its beloved “Showplace of the Southwest.” It would have been an awful shame to lose what was once the largest theatre between Dallas and Los Angeles and a fountain of paranormal wealth. 


Regardless, the theatre lives on, and the stories of its many ghosts still perplex locals and tourists in the Sun City. Stories of the smoking man, the little girl, and many other spirits are recounted night after night by roaming tour guides. 


Are you interested in learning more about Plaza Theatre? Take a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures! Until then, we will deconstruct all you need to know about El Paso’s most haunted theatre. 


History of The Plaza Theatre


In 1927, Louis L. Dent purchased a plot of land on Pioneer Plaza with the intent to do something good for the people of El Paso. The result was the Plaza Theatre. Smack in the center of downtown EL Paso, this massive Spanish-Colonial style theatre became the central hub for all things entertainment over the next century. 


Opening night for the Plaza was September 12, 1930, and was met with a roaring crowd of 2,410 people! The movie “Follow Through” was screened, creating a culture of film culture that continues to this day. The Plaza Theatre is now home to the world’s largest classic film festival. 


Films, plays, musicals, and many other performances were held over the years at The Plaza, but by the 1970s, the theatre had fallen into disrepair. Its once famous Mighty Wurlitzer Organ, only one of 6 in the world, was sold, and its future looked bleak. 


But, in 1973, the Dipp family purchased the building, saving it from demolition and repurchasing the organ from the collector who bought it. 


Saving The Plaza Theatre


Tragedy struck again in 1986 when a parking lot nearly took the Plaza’s place. But the people of El Paso came together, raising a million dollars within six days. The theatre that entertained and endeared the hearts and minds of El Pasoans for decades was saved. 


However, the Plaza Theatre’s bright and cheery future couldn’t hide the fact that the theatre was haunted.  A dark past lay hidden within the theatre’s smoke-filled walls.


Spirits of The Plaza Theatre


The most well-known spirit of the Plaza Theatre is the smoking man. His origins harken from a time when smoking inside was commonplace. While this leaves a large window of time open, we can ascertain a rough era judging by the man’s clothing and appearance.


He always appears on the top balcony of the theatre, wearing a tuxedo from the 1930s and smoking a cigarette. The Smoking Man has been seen by many guests, often smelt first. 


One unlucky employee in modern times smelled cigarette smoke one night wafting through the building. She flipped on all the lights to discover the source of the terrible smell. As she combed the room, she came upon the smoking man sitting on the top balcony. 

Their eyes met, and she noticed that he was a strange pale color, and the smoke seemed to emanate from his entire body. The strange man looked at her and stated, “We all have our time to die,” shortly after plunging head first off the balcony. She watched him hit the ground and felt like she needed to help the man now on ground level. 


As she screamed, she looked up and noticed that he had returned to the balcony. He repeated this motion, as he likely does every night, over and over again. The young girl left the theatre and never returned. 


The Smoking Man is seen by many who stay up late at night and is one of Texas’s most terrifying spirits.


Haunted El Paso


He is one among many that haunt the Plaza Theatre. A rag doll often moves from the ground floor to the top level of the building as if on its own. A young girl is seen dancing around the mezzanine, forever lost in the beauty of the theatre. 


El Paso is full of paranormal stories, such as The Smoking Man and the Plaza Theatre. Keep reading our blog to discover more until your next trip to El Paso, that is. 


Once you feel you are ready, book a ghost tour with US Ghost Adventures! Our experienced tour guides will show you all “The Pass” has to offer in this life and the next. 


Keep up with us on Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram to get the most up-to-date spooky content delivered right to you! 



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