Haunted Kingsport, Tennessee Theater

Haunted Kingsport, Tennessee Theater
In 1935, Erle Stillwell designed the State Theatre on the corner of Broad and Market Streets in Kingsport, Tennessee. The building had originally been decorated in the Mediterranean Revival/Atmospheric Style. A “lighted star constellation in the ceiling” would have been lovely to see.

Erle was a respected architect “throughout Hendersonville, Western North Carolina and throughout the South.” He “married Eva Smith, the daughter of a local real estate developer” in Hendersonville in 1907.

As a toddler, Erle's father Amos Stillwell was viciously murdered with an ax on the morning of December 30, 1888. His two young sons were in the same room. Erle Gulick Stillwell was only three years old on the morning of the murder. The story of this fascinating murder and the subsequent trial can be found at https://hannibal.lib.mo.us/digital/stillwell/stillwell.htm.

According to the North Carolina edition of Architects & Builders, Erle G. Stillwell moved around quite a bit during his childhood “with his widowed mother” settling in Hendersonville, North Carolina with her when he was 18 years of age.

The State Theater closed in 1978 (the same year Erle passed away). Decades later, Doug Beatty purchased the property and was delighted to find the original blueprints for the building.

As he began the renovation process, Doug and his daughter became aware of some odd occurrences including “a foul stench” that filled the projection booth and a feeling by both that a sinister presence was behind them.

One day when the spring-loaded projection booth door was propped open, it suddenly slammed shut and then opened itself, “hung in the air for a bit” and then shut again.

A paranormal investigation team was called in for a study in 2007. Numerous issues were experienced with their camera equipment and power sources as well as recorded significant temperature drops and EMF activity.

According to the team’s report, there are parts of the building that are significantly “deteriorated and run down,” especially in the basement where a “digital camera would not function” and “batteries would simply shut down without explanation.”

Although I have not found any indication of recent activity at the State Theater, I have to wonder if Erle G. Stillwell was just stopping by to express his distaste for the deteriorated condition of the building and his approval of the renovation process.

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