Arcadia Opera House
Antique mall and museum
opera house


Arcadia historic DeSoto Opera House was one of the first buildings to be built in 1906 after the Thanksgiving day fire in 1905. It was built by John J. Heard in which it housed his bank downstairs, the Florida Loan and Trust Company. The rooms upstairs surrounding the theater were rented out to help business owners get back on their feet after the fire and to continue to supply services to the residents of the county.
Current owner Dick Cernoch says that it was also used for dances, political meetings, movie theater and the local USO. Local historian Howard Melton said that while the adults viewed the show the children would be sent outside or they would play tag in the hallways. They then would be invited back in to sit in front of the stage for a show of their own. He also remembers the theater from when he was a child. He said that it was used for graduation ceremonies, black face comedians, vaudeville, silent movies and talkies. He also said that since the churches and schools didn’t have auditoriums the used the Opera house for all their large functions. At the present time it is being used as a museum and antique mall.
Duration - 8:00pm-4:00am
Present - Scott, Sprout, Lori, Toni, Tom, Michael (manager), Jason and Myrriah from the Charlotte Sun newspaper
Meter Readings
Temp - 84 to 86
EMF - .02
Tools -4 IR cameras
3 Hi-8 video cameras
digital cameras
35mm cameras
gauss meter
tri-field meter
audio recorders

History of Haunting:

* Dick ( owner) said that he was in the back room when he heard what sounded like a large crowd of people in the theater. When he checked it out there was no one there.
* He also said that people are uncomfortable near the front of the stage.
* Children talking, laughing and running have been heard on the main stair case, the hallways and in front of the stage.
* The owner reported that three psychics have come through the opera house and claim that there are multiple benevolent presences in the opera house.
* There have also been several reports of foot steps on the stage.
* There has been a report from a patron, that she heard what sounded like a party going on above the stage. A year later this same woman, told management that she was in the corner room and she had a vision of a man in the corner telling her “NO” as if to keep her out of that area of the room. She then was shown the painting of John J. Heard and claims that was the man she saw.
* Michael and his wife heard a loud noise and found that a mask in the hallway that was nailed to a Music machine as part of the decoration. It was found approximately 9 feet away at the top of the stairs. The mask was originally located in front of a painting of John J. Heard who was the builder of the opera house.
* A past vendor (Cindy) heard a child walking from another room down the hall and entered her room. Then felt as though the spirit then stood behind her but she saw nothing when she turned around. She had also heard children running on the stairs and laughing.
* A local couple claim that one evening at dusk they were sitting in their car at the traffic light on the corner. They looked up and saw a little girl in the corner window and she was wearing a frilly party dress. Note: Investigator Toni, went outside to look at the window from the traffic light. There are several large trees in front of the windows and the window is actually Plexiglas. The only clear shot of the window is either directly underneath it from the sidewalk or across the street at the light. It was noted by Toni that the Plexiglas is distorted and creates some wonderful and interesting images when lights and clouds are reflected in the glass. This could be a possible explanation for the possible sighting of the little girl.
Personal Experiences:
* In the early part of the evening, Tom was walking toward the big corner room and encountered a cold spot. The building has no air conditioning and was very hot so the cold spot was strong enough to capture his attention. It lasted for approximately 10 seconds and was not witnessed by any one else.
* 8:54 pm While doing the EMF/Temp sweep, Toni was on the main stairs and heard a door slam in the hallway right above her. She quickly walked upstairs to see the hallway and room empty. *NOTE: No door in that room. No other witness.
* 9:05pm Toni said: “While doing a temp sweep, I stopped to write the temp in my notebook. I saw movement out of the corner of my eye in the doorway leading to the “stage room”. I turned to look directly at it and saw a small pulsating light come out of the floor and raise to about knee level and then it pulsated back into the floor. The whole event took about 8 seconds and I cold find no explanation for what I had seen”. No other witnesses.

* 9:10pm. Toni said: “While walking from room 6 to room 7 I felt a small hand grasp my wrist much like a child would do if they wanted to get your attention. I stopped and the hand let go. Again there was no one in the room with me”.

* 9:20 pm Toni went up into the balcony to take the temp and EMF reading. She immediately became nauseous and disoriented. She had to sit down for a few moments.

* 12:05am Sprout and Myrriah both heard sounds from the back staircase, this went on for close to 5 minutes. It sounded like footsteps and rustling of a skirt. No explanation and could not be recreated.

* 12:55:18am  At the top of the main staircase, the scent of lemon was witnessed by Sprout, Jason, Scott, Toni. The scent still lingered at 1:04am. No explanation, No source found.

* This was Lori’s experience: “Everyone was leaving the "chair room" as I entered. Only Scott was left behind. He motioned for me to sit on an unassuming chair. I sat down for a moment and suddenly felt real nauseous in my abdomen and chest region. Scott asked if I felt anything. I, knowing Scott usually gets some awesome psychic response from items, replied No. He asked again, You didn’t feel anything? Well I said, I felt real nauseous. Scott got excited and responded, that’s exactly what I felt. As my excitement surmounted, I was beckoned away. Sadly, in the course of the night, I never had another chance to sit the enigmatic chair again”.

* 1:06:20 Jason said “he heard noise in the hall which made his hair stand up.”

* At the end of the investigation, again at the top of the main staircase, the scent of bubble gum was witnessed by Sprout, Lori, Scott, Toni. No explanation, No source found.

* A very common occurrence that happens in areas where paranormal activity has been reported is the draining of batteries. * Lori’s Hi-8 only recorded 33 minutes on a 2 hours charged battery.
* 1:51am   In the room to the left of the stairs we captured a EVP. Sprout had done a few EVP sessions in the room and the last one came out with a lot of static. She changed her batteries and returned to the room to try again. After announcing our entrance into the room we hear a woman’s voice say “Hi”. This was also caught on Lori’s Hi-8 in the same room about 15 feet away and at the same volume.
Click on location photo to hear.

opera house
These next 2 different pieces of audio evidence were only 1 second apart and from opposite sides of the building. Also no one was in the building at this time.
* 2:16:52am In the main hallway we have a sound which sounds like birds, specifically a cockatiel and a parrot. So far we can’t find any history of birds in the location.
Click on location photo to hear.

opera house
* 2:16:53am On the stage we got 3 distinct taps which sounds a lot like a conductors baton. This is heard very close to the microphone. Click on location photo to hear.
Click on location photo to hear.

opera house
* 2:36:49-53am We captured a light anomaly on the stage. On the right side of the screen you will see a ball of light fade in and then disappear.
Click on location photo to see.
opera house