If you visit, make sure not to take her favorite seat.

By Valerie Fraser Luesse
October 01, 2020
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Mary the ghost has a favorite seat at the Orpheum, and she’ll aggravate the stew out of you if you sit there. One of the South’s classic theaters, the Orpheum reopened in 1928 as an impressive $1.6 million replacement for the former Grand Opera House (later known as the Orpheum), which had been destroyed by fire. Not only was the opulent new performance space ideal for vaudeville, but it was also outfitted for silent movies, complete with a Mighty Wurlitzer organ. (Hold up your hand if you have ever watched a Mighty Wurlitzer rise in your hometown movie palace.) Motion pictures replaced vaudeville acts during the Depression, but after years as a movie theater, it was sold in 1976. Thanks to a nonprofit, it was restored to its former glory and reopened in 1984. There was also a 1996 renovation, and in 2015, what is now the Orpheum Theatre Group opened the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts & Education for community outreach. Don’t look for Mary the ghost at the new theater though. She still prefers her old digs.