Discover Oshkosh was lucky enough to get a sneak peek of the upcoming Haunted Happenings at The Grand Oshkosh. The Ghost tour highlights both the history of the Grand as well as the many spirit stories that have come about over the 140 years of operation.
History of The Grand
The idea of a beautiful performing art center in Oshkosh was organized by a group of women and eventually was built by local architect William Waters over the span of 10 months. The Grand Opera House opened in August of 1883 and could originally seat up to around 1,000 people (with the assistance of chairs in the available spaces and "jump seats" which folded out from the walls and ends of seats). As years passed and ownership changed hands, the productions and acts that once took the stage transitioned into a movie theater. In the 1980's the first renovation began and included the addition of the adjacent property, which provided a space for restrooms, a bigger lobby area, and additional offices. The second renovation began in 2009 and helped to restore The Grand structure as well as refurbish the venues original craftsmanship including the replication of the original ceiling mural. The Grand Oshkosh is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and seats 550 today.
Some fun facts! Originally a chimney in the middle of the theater ceiling and two fireplaces in the "warming rooms" were the only heating for the venue! Another fun fact - When the Grand Opera House shifted to showing movies, the entrance to the venue was moved and an apartment was added above the original entrance in order to house the movie theaters manager.
Other fun facts:
- Has had multiple names over the years such as The Oshkosh Opera House, Granada.
- It has had many purposes, movie theatre, opera house, x rated movie theater.
- In the 80s the grand was in disrepair. Community members started a stand with the grand movement to have a referendum be offered to citizens regarding the destiny of the building. 2/3 of the city voted that the city of Oshkosh should acquire, restore and engage in the operation of The Grand Opera House.
- The grands current capacity is 550. Before fire codes they would fit over 1000 people in the theater by using jump seats and the aisles.
- We can thank women for the grand being in existence. Back in 1883, women convicted their husbands they needed an opera house.
Haunted Happenings Ghost Tour
The Grand is known to be haunted by multiple spirits such as a woman who never made it to opening night, a former stage manager, a little boy, and a pup! Amber and Molly of The Grand gave us a sneak peek as to the stories and experiences that individuals will partake in throughout the Haunted Happenings Tours this October. Without giving too much away - all I can say is we left The Grand spooked, but in one piece!
Family Friendly Tours start at 12:00 p.m. with the last tour starting at 6:00 p.m. (30 minutes each) covering the history of The Grand, seeing behind the scenes of the theatre, and hearing spirit stories. Rated PG. Walk-ins welcome. Tours leave at the top of the hour and half hour. These tours are happening October 8th, 22nd, and 29th.
Late Night Tours run from 5:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m. (1 hour each) with reservations required. Get a deeper look into The Grand’s paranormal activity during this exploration with the lights out (guided by a rope-light trail). Enjoy the same aspects as the Family Friendly tour with the history and stories, all with a little “darker” feel. During the tour, you will get the chance to communicate with the spirits with The Grand’s dowsing rods (if they are willing to talk). Take one of these tours on October 3rd, 6th, 7th, 9th, &13th.
This Haunted Happenings tour includes a walking tour of the Grand Oshkosh's auditorium as well as The Grand basement. After the tour, stop by The Grand lounge for some seriously spooky drinks! Or plan to attend an upcoming Cocktail Class and learn to make some kooky spooky craft cocktails!
Other Spooky Events at The Grand
Check out a list of all spooky things happening at The Grand this Halloween season! From Craft Cocktails, to Glow Yoga, and Paranormal Investigators—you won't want to miss out!