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Dark Destinations > Locations - E > Egyptian Theatre, Boise, ID

Egyptian Theatre, Boise, ID Other destinations within a
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Availability: Open to the Public
Filed Under: Historical Locations
Mythology/Folklore > Urban Legends
Paranormal Hot Spots > Haunted Theaters
Added By: TheCabinet
Added On: October 23, 2010 - 12:20 AM UTC
Last Modified: October 23, 2010 - 12:20 AM UTC
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700 W Main St, Boise, ID 83702, USA (Boise, Idaho)
The Egyptian Theatre
Steeped in lore of ghosts and underground tunnels, this theater has become a landmark of historic downtown Boise, Idaho. Originally opened in 1927, the Egyptian Theatre is the oldest such theater in the city (the next oldest only dates back to the 1980s) and has survived the threat of demolition amidst urban development, while undergoing many changes over its decades of operation.

The establishment was commissioned and built by the Main Street Building Company who had purchased property on the corner of Main Street and 7th (now Capitol Boulevard). The demolition of the former businesses began on May 1, 1926 and the construction of the theater started immediately. The Egyptian Theatre was designed by Frederick "Fritz" Hummel of the local firm, Tourtellotte and Hummel, and was modeled on the Egyptian Revival-style that had been popularized by the 1922 discovery of King Tutankhamen's tomb. Hummel was reportedly greatly influenced by the design of Sid Grauman's Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood, California. As such, Egyptian imagery populates both the exterior and interior of the theater, even using scenes from the Book of the Dead to decorate the outer proscenium.

The Egyptian Theatre opened on April 19, 1927 with the John Barrymore film, Don Juan. Although it originally started as the Egyptian Theatre, it would undergo various name changes over the years as new owners came and went. It 1930, it was renamed as the Fox Egyptian after it was purchased by the Fox chain, only to drop the Egyptian portion of its name and change to the Fox Theatre in 1932. After the theater was purchased by Paramount in the 1940s, they held a citywide contest to rename the theater and the winning submission was the Ada Theatre. It remained the Ada for several decades until urban renewal hit the area and the once-grand theater was slated for demolition. Local businessman, Earl Hardy, saved the theater when he purchased the establishment in 1977 for the sum of $115,000. After further remodeling that modernized the building, while maintaining its Egyptian motif, Hardy brought back its original name and it was once again the Egyptian Theatre.

In 1999, the Egyptian would again undergo a series of renovations through the efforts of the Hardy Foundation, Inc., which Hardy founded to take ownership of the theater. Over the years, the original seating capacity of 1,200 had been reduced to 750 seats, while further expansions allowed the venue to host a series of events in addition to movies; including live bands, the Idaho Film Festival, opera, and plays. Hollywood producer, Frank Marshall, has even hosted the worldwide premiere of several of his movies (including the Bourne Trilogy, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, and The Last Airbender) at the Egyptian Theatre as a benefit for Boise Contemporary Theater.

The Egyptian Theatre was added to the National Register of Historic Places on November 21, 1974. Today, it is the only single-screen movie theater left in Boise, Idaho and is renowned as being a major attraction itself, in addition to whatever entertainment it is presenting on a given night. With the fondness that Boise residents hold for the old theater, it is not surprising that the Egyptian is steeped in legend and lore, with rumors of underground tunnels and resident ghosts.

The Underground Tunnels
For years, citizens of Boise have speculated about the possibility of tunnels that spread throughout the underground of the historic Boise area. In the lore, the tunnels are known as the "Chinese Tunnels" after the Chinese immigrants who were said to build them in the late-1800s/early-1900s. The reasons were quite simple. Aside from having their own private world where they could move about the city undetected, they could also set up illegal gambling shops and opium dens away from prying eyes. Parents in the area helped fuel the rumors by telling their children to avoid Chinatown at night, or a Chinese mugger, who would appear and disappear through the underground, might accost them. Despite assurances from local historians and city officials that no such tunnels exist or have ever existed, the legend will not die with some even going as far as to claim a conspiracy on behalf of the officials to keep the general public in the dark.

While many of the surrounding businesses are said to have entry points to this underground world (see Hannifin's Cigar Store), the Egyptian Theatre is something of a focal point for the rumors. There are actually a couple of different reasons why that may be. For starters, the theater is located in what used to be the heart of the old Chinatown district of Boise, so it is a natural fit. The other possibility is that tunnels do exist beneath the theater that reportedly used to connect to the nearby Idaho State Capitol as well as the building across Main Street, but have since been closed off. However, these tunnels were not constructed for passage purposes, but rather as part of the air ventilation system. Local historian, Arthur Hart, even went so far in his research of the rumored tunnels that he spoke with Frederick Hummel, who designed the Egyptian. According to Hummel, they saw no evidence of the tunnels existing when they were constructing the theater.

The Ghost of the Egyptian Theatre
Another long-running story about the Egyptian Theatre concerns its resident ghost. According to the reports, staff and visitors alike have reported a wide array of paranormal activity; including doors that open or close on their own, lights that turn on and off, disembodied voices, and other strange noises. Some have reported the sensation of being touched when no one is around and one former manager even claimed he was grabbed by an unseen entity. More than a few people have reported seeing the apparition of a man standing in the projector booth when it was supposed to be unoccupied, or a similar transparent shape on the stage.

According to the theater, the resident ghost is the spirit of a former projectionist named Joe that worked in the theater from the 1920s until his death in the 1950s. According to the story, Joe suffered a heart attack while walking up the stairs to the projection booth and died on the spot. They also speculate that the management was concerned that his death might be bad publicity for the theater or worse, might start stories of a haunting, and hushed over the incident, which is why no confirmation of the story can be found.

In 2009, the haunting of the Egyptian Theatre was the focus of an episode of the Travel Channel series, Ghost Stories. The episode interviewed local KRTV Fox 12 reporter, Dan Hamilton, and members of the International Paranormal Reporting Group who related their ghostly experiences inside the Egyptian Theatre. According to Ghost Stories, the Egyptian Theatre is the "...most haunted building in Boise."

The Egyptian Theatre still operates to this day, offering a variety of entertainment options. For a full schedule of the events, ticket prices, and hour of operations, please visit their site below.
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Egyptian Theatre
The official Web site of the reportedly haunted Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho.
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The Egyptian Theatre - Main Street
Picture of the reportedly haunted Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho in September 2010.
From: TheCabinet
Egyptian Theatre Marquee
Photo of the marquee at the allegedly haunted Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho - September 2010.
From: TheCabinet
The Egyptian Theatre - Sphinx
Photo of the Sphinx which adorns the outside of Boise's reputedly haunted Egyptian Theatre - 09/10.
From: TheCabinet
Egyptian Theatre Box Office
Image of the box office at the Egyptian Theatre in Boise, Idaho said to be home to a ghost - 09/10.
From: TheCabinet
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The above content is for informational purposes only. Before making any travel arrangements, it is highly recommended that you contact those in charge of the property to check for updated availability and hours of operation. While we do our best to keep this information updated, we cannot guarantee that it is completely valid and up to date. Any destination marked "Closed to the Public" is marked that for a reason and we discourage any visits or attempts to gain access to that facility. Similarly, take note of any "Travel Advisory" that may be associated with a destination. Finally, treat any location and its local residents with respect. Any vandalism and/or unruly behavior is completely despicable and only ruins the experience for future visitors.

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