311 E. Walnut
Springfield, Missouri 65806
The Landers Theater, now known as Springfield Little Theater, is a 4 story, red and white brick building, built in 1909, by John and D.J. Landers and R.W. Steward. The design of the building, created by architects John and Carl Boller, is a combination of several architectural styles, including baroque, renaissance and neoclassical/ napoleon. The theater has two mezzanine balconies, rooms on the fourth floor, and a basement below the main floor. In 1977, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
In 1909, The Landers Theater began its long history as being a source of entertainment for people by hosting vaudeville shows on the Orpheum Circuit until 1919. Throughout the 1920s, the theater switched its venue, becoming a silent movie theater. In 1928, after the release of the first Talkie, The Landers Theater made the jump to showing films with sound. During WW2, the theater closed for a few years during the mid 1940s, but opened up once again after the war, and continued to be a movie house throughout the late '40s, '50s and 1960s. In 1959, the theater also was the home studio for live broadcasts of FIVE STAR JUBILEE, a national NBC-TV show.
In 1970, The Landers Theater, in need of restoration, was put up for sale. The Springfield Little Theater Organization, formed in 1934, bought the building. They worked hard, undertaking major restoration projects, renovating the grand old theater to its former 1909 splendor, after spending in total $500,000.
Since the 1970s, The Landers Theater, the oldest and largest civic theater in Missouri, has offered as artistic entertainment many civic stage shows plus is the home base for Springfield Opera, Springfield Ballet and the Springfield Symphonic Concert series. A full range educational programs offer after-school classes and summer workshops to students of all ages.
Performers on stage must have to focus on what they are doing, as they have plenty of entities watching them, which can be distracting!
1) In 1920, a major fire broke out in the theater, killing the janitor.
The apparition of the janitor is often seen by the actors on stage, way up in the balcony, watching them rehearse.
2) During the 1920s, which was a time of racial segregation, a man was knifed in the second balcony ("the colored section"), and died there.
This entity is described as being a green orb, or phosphorescent haze, about 5 feet tall, is seen in the second balcony and on the landing between the first and second balconies. The area where it appears is about 20 degrees colder than the temperature elsewhere.
3) A tragic accident occurred when a BABY fell from the balcony to its death, much to the horror of its mother.
A) A baby's cries can be heard, as well as its mother trying to comfort it.
B) Performers have seen an apparition of a baby falling from the balcony during rehearsals.
4) Part of the fourth floor in the past used to be apartments, which housed touring actors and actresses.
On the street in front of the theater people have observed a tall apparition of a long-haired, blonde man, dressed in Elizabethan clothes peering at them from behind a curtain on the fourth floor in a room which is now a costume room.
5) People in the theater building report that they sense a unseen presence following them, tapping them on the shoulder.
6) A middle-aged male apparition appeared as a solid form in the middle of the auditorium before the lighting and technical director as he returned from the basement, to make the security system work, as the theater was closed. Thinking that this apparition was a living man, the director asked the entity if he could help him. This apparition went behind a pillar and disappeared. The director described this entity as being nearly 6 ft tall, with long hair and a black and gray-peppered beard, has a big nose, full lips, bushy eyebrows.
Before this entity appeared before the lighting and technical director, a group of people, playing with a Ouija board in the balcony (which can be very dangerous) said that the entity's name was "Ned", and described him the same way as the lighting and technical director.
HAUNTED HIGHWAY; The Spirits of Route 66, by Ellen Robson and Dianne Halicki.