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Haunted Performance Hall: The Ghosts of an Oppressive Past

Broadway Performance Hall and Erickson Theater have existed as public arts spaces on campus since the start of Seattle Colleges in 1970. The theater has been a community arts space dedicated to an inclusive variety of performances through an assortment of owners and subcontractors, including current stage manager Darrell Jamieson. It has also been subject to reports of unexplained activity since the grand opening of the space. 

Darrell Jamieson- an employee since 1980- along with his business partner bought the performance hall and Erickson Theater from Performance Support Services, a modern dance company that went bankrupt after 6 years of contracting the space. The reports of supernatural activity began immediately. Jamieson believes much of this activity is a holdover from the tension created by the “lasting scar”. Where in 1942, nearly 30% of Broadway High’s student population were interned as a result of the World War II era assault on the rights of Japanese Americans. 

That year, over 150 students were taken from the high school campus and brought to an internment camp in Puyallup, WA. Students and staff would regularly go to “visit the internment camp to see former students and throw oranges over the fence to the prisoners,” according to Jamieson, “until the guard caught on and began chasing students and staff out of the area.” This massive removal would lead to the closing of Broadway High School due to under enrollment. Students still attending the school were split between Roosevelt and Garfield high schools. 

Jamieson stands convinced that even though the performance hall was not yet built at that time, the tension around these events created a negative energy that supernatural events are most often tied to. Jamieson believes that “this is the result of when spaces are not made inclusive,” and has noticed a significant shift in the amount of presence in the forty some years that he has worked in the building. 

Throughout the existence of the space, there have been reports of questionable activity, some without reasonable explanation. Students have reported hearing noises, including banging and voices at night that could not have come from anyone in the empty building. 

Jamieson can remember hosting events during the 1980’s AIDS epidemic that garnered the space’s reputation of “continually hosting events that other spaces simply would not touch,” which in relation to the hauntings became a sort of healing from wounds made in the past. Though there were still reports of ghosts in that time, the further in time the space has been from the events of 1942, the less and less reports there have been. 

In recent years, the performance hall has hosted its fair share of events that support what Jamieson would affectionately label their “window to the community” approach to event planning. Groups of students walking through the halls spoke affectionately of the space when asked for comment, and none of the newer students spoken with reported any mysterious activity. Some students who would rather remain anonymous had heard reports of activity in the past, but “haven’t heard anything or seen anything more concerning than the elevator going up instead of down.”  

Perhaps more frightening than any “haunted”  activity that can’t be explained by living human interaction is the horrifying events that were a direct result of human actions in 1942. If inclusive planning is capable of healing wounds from the past, Broadway Performance Hall is on track to not be haunted for much longer.

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