King Opera House
A HISTORIC VENUE HAUNTED BY THE GHOST OF A MURDERED ACTOR!
Located on Main Street in the heart of Van Buren’s Historic District, the King Opera House has been entertaining the local community for over 140 years.
Stories of the paranormal goings-on here have lasted nearly as long, with reports going back to the early 1900s.
Built in 1880, during the height of the Victorian era, the King Opera House welcomed many notable performers, such as Jenny Lind (The Swedish Nightingale), William Jennings Bryan, and Arkansas’ own Bob Burns.
From the mid-1890s through to the early 1930s, the Opera House would regularly put on weekly runs of Vaudeville shows, one of which was a show that had Charles Tolson as the lead.
It’s Tolson’s ghost that still haunts the opera house to this day, roaming the location of his last ever performance.
Charles Tolson was a young talented actor and the owner of the Tolson Stock Company, a traveling acting troupe that had been performing their Vaudeville act at the King Opera House for a week at the end of September 1903.
Tolson caught the eye of a 17-year-old girl called Allye (Allie) Parchman, who had dreams of leaving the small-town life behind, and saw Tolson as her ticket there.
Due to leave with his troupe from the Frisco Train Depot on Oct 4, 1903, Allye’s father, Dr. Parchman, received word from a local salesman name C.G. Murray, that Allye would be at the depot with Tolson at 7:45 AM, and their plan was to elope.
Dr. Parchman, who had been waiting inside the depot waiting room, caught sight of Tolson and called out his name followed by, “I want to see you”. As soon as Tolson turned, Dr. Parchman fired his first shot from his 44 caliber revolver, missing Tolson who had started to run from the gunfire.
Parchman let off another shot, this time striking his back, just above his hip, which hit him with such force that it turned him around to face Parchman once more. Taking one last shot, Parchman fired at Tolson’s chest. Luckily it hit a pocket watch, but the bullet’s force knocked him to the ground.
Tolson was critically injured and was put on the arriving train to Fort Smith, where he was admitted to Belle Point Hospital in Fort Smith, and where he would die the following day, Oct 5, 1903.
Some people believe Allye had indeed fallen for Tolson, and she did have intentions of leaving with him. However, the truth is a little blurry.
Allye may have had intentions of leaving town and her oppressive father. In fact, notes were found in her purse relaying the fact. However, the reality is she wasn’t at the station when Tolson was shot, and Tolson was a happily married man, to a lady who was part of his acting troupe.
To add to the intrigue, the local salesman named C.G. Murray who had relayed this information to Dr. Parchman, actually had eyes for Allye himself and could have staged the whole thing knowing what could happen.
The ghost of Charles Tolson is believed to be the main spirit attached to King Opera House, the last venue he performed at before he was brutally murdered by Dr. Parchman.
Former employees of the opera house have reported several strange occurrences. One of which was the constant feeling of being watched when they were supposedly alone.
One director of the Young Actor’s Guild, which used to perform at the opera house, says they closed up one night, turning off all the lights, only to return the next day and all the lights were switched back on.
Others have witnessed the ghost of Tolson in full form, dressed in a long black Victorian coat and top hat, and a cape.
Is Charles the cause for all the activity here, or are there more spirits that frequent this historic opera house? Do you dare find out?
Your ghost hunt at The King Opera House includes the following:
- Ghost Hunting Vigils,
- Structured Vigils,
- Ghost Hunt with experienced Ghost Hunting Team,
- Use of our traditional and state-of-the-art paranormal equipment which includes, trigger objects and EMF Meters, and more,
- Private time to explore this location and to undertake your very own private vigils,
- Unlimited refreshments are available throughout the night including Soft Drinks, and Bottled Water.
- Selection of snacks.