Eerie surroundings

10/31/03 - The Spectator

Kjer Theatre rumored as one of region's haunted sites, paranormal researcher says

It can be a mysterious cold draft blowing from seemingly nowhere, or it can be an unexplained knocking noise coming from a tilted gravestone.

If a person is lucky or unlucky, depending on one's opinion one might even see something that can't be explained.

The talk about ghosts, ghouls and other supernatural beings heats up around Halloween, but studying the unexplained is a continual process.

Chad Lewis, an Eau Claire native who has been studying the paranormal for several years, gave a slideshow presentation Saturday night at the Holiday Inn, 205 S. Barstow St. Lewis gave a short history of paranormal sightings, along with photographs of supposed spiritual activity.

In his presentation Lewis outlined several haunted areas in Wisconsin, including some in Eau Claire. He mentioned UW-Eau Claire's Kjer Theatre, Lakeview Cemetery near Half Moon Lake and Fire Station No. 10.

While he hasn't investigated Kjer Theatre, Lewis said there are rumors about the theatre being haunted by founder Earl Kjer.

Jody Sekas, assistant professor of music and theatre arts, hasn't seen any evidence of Kjer being haunted, but he isn't ruling out the possibility.

"It seems like every theatre has (a ghost)," Sekas said. "I prefer to believe the stories. It's safer to have a healthy dose of respect."

Aside from Kjer Theatre, Lewis has visited the other haunted places in Eau Claire, and he experienced things that people often associate with paranormal activity.

In Lakeview Cemetery, Lewis investigated a grave he said was associated with a knocking sound.

While in the cemetery Lewis heard the knocking as it had been described to him seeming to come from a grave that had been pushed over on an angle.

Lewis took pictures of the gravestone's area, and some of the picture depicted a white form when developed. He didn't explain the white form's existence.

He only said the whiteness wasn't there when he took the pictures and there was no problem with the film or pictures when he had them analyzed.

He also told stories of other supposedly haunted places in the area, including JTC Hall at UW-Stout and the Elk Creek Dam, west of Eau Claire.

Lewis told a story about two students who were sitting by the dam.

One student turned around to look behind him, then turned back toward the water before saying to his friend, "There's a glowing, green woman behind us."

His friend responded, "I know, but I'm not turning around."

Lewis said he doesn't try to draw conclusions when he investigates a haunted location; he just wants to rule out possibilities.

He added that he wants people to come to their own conclusions.

"At this point, we have more questions than answers," Lewis told the audience. "I don't try to tell people what something is. I just try to tell them what it is not."

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