The Doris Harper-White Playhouse is home to Flagstaff’s Theatrikos Theatre, a deep history, and many spirits. Flagstaff’s favorite haunted theatre has been operating at 11 West Cherry Avenue in downtown Flagstaff since 1989.
In 2002, it was named after the company’s leading woman, Doris Harper-White, and some say she is one of the most spectral spectators haunting the 1920s building.
The others are settled comfortably on the upper balcony amongst the staggered seats. Their souls are forever trapped here for either the love of the theatre or something far more sickening and desperate.
Once the home of CJ Babbitt, whose family still owns large tracts of land in Flagstaff, the theatre has become a popular destination for paranormal enthusiasts visiting Flag Town.
Whether it served as a mansion, library, labor union hall, or theatre, this building has been a center focal point for all things Flagstaff for decades. Now, the spirits of these various institutions haunt the theatre hall and attract more than just the dinner-time crowd.
Let’s look into the history and horror stories of Flagstaff’s most haunted theatre, the Doris Harper-White Playhouse, one of the main stops on our Flagstaff Ghost Tour.
The theatre’s history begins as many old buildings do, as not a theatre at all. In 1886, the five Babbitt brothers arrived in Flagstaff. They were a long way from their grocery store in Cincinnati, Ohio, but were here with a vision. That vision turned into a generational wealth that owns over 700,000 acres of land in Flagstaff.
CJ Babbitt was at the center of this conglomerate, and as such, he needed a castle fit for a king. His three-story Victorian mansion was built in 1892 for his wife, a plea to have her stay in Flagstaff. She chose the sunny beaches of Los Angeles over the high desert plain of Flagstaff, only visiting in the summer, but Babbitt lived here for many years.
In 1923, the Victorian was demolished, and the current building took its place. The Elks Lodge, a fraternal society of mysterious origin, occupied the vast hall for many years until the Great Depression swept it out of their hands.
The American Federation of Labor Union moved in and operated here until the 1960s, when it became a public library.
It almost became a parking lot, but in 1988, Doris Harper-White acquired the building for her theatre group. In 2002, the Flagstaff Playhouse was named in honor of this philanthropic thespian, and some say she still hangs around long after her death.
There have been sightings of an old woman in the theatre room over the past twenty years. She attentively watches the actors during rehearsal from the upper balcony. Yet, she disappears whenever approached, prompting actors and employees of the theatre to suspect that she is Doris Harper-White, who passed in 2009.
The basement is where most of the activity is located, however. An old man walks the decrepit underground level. His apparition disappears as quickly as it appears, causing his origins to remain a mystery. Perhaps it is the spirit of CJ Babbitt, refusing to leave his home while he waits for his wife whom he loved so much.
Shockingly, this lonely old man is tame in comparison to the building’s most active spirit.
In the 1970s, a man hung himself in the loading dock of the library. His spirit relives this tragic moment night after night in anger. Staff dread encountering his violent spirit and avoid the hallways late at night.
Speaking of hallways, one of the most fascinating paranormal experiences occurred one evening in the theatre’s main hallway. It began to rain inside. Yes, you read that right: rain drizzled down from the ceiling one evening.
The odd happenings at the Doris Harper-White Playhouse are far from the only paranormal activity in Flagstaff. Their location between forests, deserts, and mountains makes it a magnet for spectral happenings and high strangeness. The desert town has seen its fair share of strangeness over the years, making it a great destination for ghost hunters such as yourselves.
If you make the journey west, such as the Babbitt’s did over a hundred years ago, be sure to bring a guide with you. US Ghost Adventures’s experienced tour guides show you the dark side of Flagstaff with stories of terror that will bring you to your knees. A shockingly frightful time awaits you with US Ghost Adventures.