It seems that there’s more than one kind of spirit lurking in the Mishler Theatre in Altoona, PA.
The History: The Mishler Theatre is located in the heart of Altoona, Pennsylvania, and has been entertaining the city for over 100 years now. Built by Isaac Charles Mishler and opened on February 15, 1906, the original Mishler Theatre didn’t last too long. Just nine months after it opened its doors, a neighboring building caught on fire which spread to the Mishler, destroying the interior of the theatre. Luckily, it was rebuilt in 1907 and was saved from demolition in 1965 by the Altoona Community Theatre and the Blair County Arts Foundation. Today, the theatre hosts multiple events throughout the year including local productions, traveling productions, concert series, recitals, and even a children’s theatre series.
The Haunting: It should come as no surprise that the Mishler is haunted. Every theatre has at least one good ghost story and the Mishler Theatre is no different. The most common claim in the theatre is the ghost of Mr. Isaac Mishler, himself. Mishler has been seen walking along the catwalk, in and around his office, as well as backstage, always watching staff members work. The scent of cigar smoke can be smelled and the sink in the women’s bathroom has been known to turn on and off by unseen hands. A woman dressed in 1930s garb, and a man wearing “funny hats,” and even a dog have all been seen by staff and guests alike in the Mishler Theatre.
For a building that is over 100 years old and was the site of a grisly fire, there’s no doubt that the Mishler Theatre is overflowing with history. With gilded decorations, ornate chandeliers, and a facade that will transport you right back to the days of Vaudeville theatre, the Mishler is a treasure when it comes to American theatre. But similarly to most theatres, the Mishler just doesn’t come off as spooky or scary. We don’t know of any deaths or murders on the premises, nor was it built on a battlefield. Aside from the fire, it’s had a relatively quiet past. Even Ghost Hunters declared it wasn’t the most haunted place they had visited. However, we can’t throw away the multiple claims and stories surrounding the theatre coming from small children and professional stagehands.
As if a haunted theatre wasn’t enough, in 2015 the Mishler installed the Spiritz Lounge in the basement of the theatre. A full bar with wine, beer, and specialty cocktails, guests can wander through the basement of the old theatre, learning about the history of the building during intermission while sipping on an adult beverage. Prices range from $4 for a Miller Lite (aka: yellow water) to $10 for their single malt scotch. I visited the Mishler to view William Allen Jones’s musical The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, and their specialty cocktail happened to be the Headless Horseman Sangria. For the cheaper prices, they are generous with their alcohol and they even sell tumblers for you to bring your cocktails upstairs into the theatre with you!
Type of Experience: Bar
Dining Style: Casual
Cuisine: Liquid Refreshments
Price Range: $4-10
Phone Number: (814) 949-2787
Hours of Operation:
One hour before curtain and during intermission
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