Is Egyptian Theatre Haunted?

Egyptian Theatre

This Midwestern theater is reportedly haunted by six ghosts from its long and storied past

Paranormal Activity at
the Egyptian Theatre

  • A man’s apparition has been seen around a particular seat and aisle in the theater
  • Mysterious cigarette butts have appeared in the lobby
  • A woman has been heard crying and knocking in the basement bathroom
  • A janitor’s apparition pops up on the stage sometimes
  • The specter of a lady in green sits in the balcony seats
  • A visible blue orb has been encountered in the building’s tunnel
  • The ghost of a little girl has been seen and heard playing in the lobby
  • A phantom little boy has been seen wandering the theater at odd hours
  • An ottoman in theater storage is reportedly haunted

The Haunted History of the Egyptian Theatre

Take a stroll down the brick-accented sidewalks of 2nd Street in downtown DeKalb, Illinois, and you’ll see a building looming large over its neighbors, both literally and figuratively. Standing over a story taller than other buildings in the area, the Egyptian Theatre’s height is just one of many uniquely eye-catching features.

The haunted Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb Illinois

With pharaoh figures cut into the stonework and a scarab beetle in the front facade’s stained glass window, the theater is as good at showing its name as the marquee is at telling it. But beneath the its distractingly beautiful aesthetic, there’s a long history of supernatural occurrences at the Egyptian Theatre.

The theater has been entertaining the people of DeKalb for nearly a century. In that time, some say the building has become one of the most haunted Illinois theaters. And many of the its phantoms seem to share a love of performance.

Timeline of Egyptian Theatre's History

Swipe or use timeline points to see Egyptian Theatre through the years


Egyptian themed theaters were popular builds in the 1920s after King Tut’s discovery in 1922. But when the Egyptian Theatre in DeKalb opened in December 1929, it came into a quickly changing world. Opened weeks after the stock crash that sparked the Great Depression, it had this tumult built into its structure.

Ceilings were capped low, utilities were cut from budgets, and marble floors were replaced with mosaics of recycled tile. But, the theater managed to maintain its elegance, and it was rewarded by the public for it.


Early local competition, and the Depression made every venue desperate for an audience. Luckily for the Egyptian, it had something other theaters didn’t: talkies (motion pictures with audio).

Its ability to show talkie movies made the Egyptian Theatre DeKalb’s in-demand movie palace. And though it was built to do both film and vaudeville, by 1931, it was operating as a first-run movie house.


As the century went on, the Egyptian Theatre stayed popular and became a venue for more than just film, including community events and even presidential campaigns. In 1959, prior to his run for president, John F. Kennedy spoke at the theater.

A few years later in the mid-1960s, Ronald Reagan gave a speech in the building. But, as the 60s became the 70s, times became tough. Plaster on the walls began falling away, needed renovations stopped happening, and the theater seemed destined for quick closure.


Closure came for the theater in 1977 after the owners handed control to the City of DeKalb. By then, sections of the theater seating couldn’t be used because pieces of the ceiling would fall. To save the dilapidated theater, the community formed Preservation of the Egyptian Theatre (PET), Inc., to fundraise for refurbishments.

The group successfully got the theater added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978 and raised over $2 million to save it. With this help, the business reopened in late 1983.


After reopening, the theater once more brought films to the people of DeKalb. But, it was also the venue for many community events and even weddings. Slowly but surely, the Egyptian became more than just a movie palace: it became a cultural cornerstone of its community.

So, by the time more restorations and expansions were needed in the late 2010s, the community stepped up. After collecting millions of dollars in fundraising and grants, the theater’s biggest expansion began.


Started in 2019, the Egyptian’s restoration included air conditioning (a utility originally cut in 1929), accessibility add-ons, and an in-house bar. Since then, the Egyptian has brought ever more live entertainment back to its stage, becoming just as much a performance venue as a movie theater.

Is Illinois’ Egyptian Theatre haunted?

The theater’s renewed life has reportedly stirred up old lives within the expansive build. Specters from the vaudeville era, and even some from modernity, are said to mingle amongst the living, haunting performances and after shows at the theater. Reportedly, there are six distinct Egyptian Theatre spirits occupying different areas of the theater.

The Ghost of Irv at
the Egyptian Theatre

One of the most well-known spirits is that of Irv Kummerfeldt, a strong supporter of the theater during the 1970s and 80s restorations. Irv died in the building in 1988, helping the staff clean up after a local production of West Side Story.

Since then, his has been a regular ghost sighting at the Egyptian Theatre. He often appears as an apparition around his favorite seat, or in the doorway to one of the aisles. Those who have seen him around say he looks like he’s just checking in on things, keeping tabs on the theater he loved so much in life.

Irv's original desk and contents

Irv’s ghost is also said to still be connected to his old desk, which remains in the theater. While the desk was tucked away in storage, cigarette butts were often found in the lobby. Smoked cigarette butts, and the smell of cigarettes, often appeared in the area at strange times.

For a long time, no one could figure out from who, or where, they came from. But, during one redecoration, Irv’s desk was moved from storage into the lobby. And since then, the smoky supernatural phenomena at the Egyptian Theatre has subsided.

A Ghostly Girl in the Egyptian Theatre’s Haunted Lobby

Also among the cast of the Egyptian Theatre’s ghost stories is the lobby’s seasonal specter. The ghost of a little girl can be seen and heard playing, singing, and laughing throughout the area…but only in summer. The story goes that this little girl once lived in the house that existed on the property before the theater. And, since the family used it as a summer house, she now only appears in the summer months.

As the theater opens up more in the summer with their newly installed air conditioning, one has to wonder if more people will encounter this little girl’s playful spirit.

The Theater’s Real Haunted House

Along with the little girl ghost, ghostly encounters at the Egyptian Theatre also include a little boy spirit. The little boy’s first appearances around the theater ended up being his most memorable, as he first appeared during a yearly haunted house.

He appeared as a vivid apparition, appearing so real the actors stopped the haunted house to find the unattended boy’s parents. But, when staff tried to locate the boy, they soon learned that they were looking for a ghost. Now, he is known to linger around the downstairs dressing rooms, reportedly appearing in costumes, as though he was once a young vaudeville actor.

The Haunted Stage of The Egyptian Theatre

On the stage, a vivid apparition has been reported. Based on reports from those who have seen him, this ghost is likely a janitor. His apparition is most often encountered just standing on the stage, wearing dark coveralls and leaning on the handle of a broom or mop.

He often disappears just as quickly as he appears, often right before peoples’ eyes. A prominent story on the Egyptian Theatre’s ghost tours is that of a stage manager encountering the apparition on a stormy night while along in the building. Though his name is not known, theater staff have taken to calling this ghost Charlie or Charles.

Egyptian Theatre’s Haunted Balcony:
The Lady in Green

In the theater balcony, the apparition of a lady in green is frequently encountered. Said to be a woman in a long, bright green dress carrying a cigarette stick, she is spotted by performers on the stage.

The lady in green has been seen throughout stages of production, from set construction, to rehearsals, to actual show nights. Sometimes, she is seen as a still, sitting apparition, while other times she wanders across the aisles in the balcony seats. But, though many have tried to catch her up there, she always disappears before anyone can find her.

The Weeping Ghost Backstage

Downstairs in the Egyptian Theater’s haunted dressing rooms, a female ghost reportedly lingers in and around the women’s restroom. Those who have encountered her often say she is crying or very sad, and visiting mediums and psychics have all said something similar about this spirit.

Nobody knows why she is so sad, but many figure she wants to be alone with her emotions. She often pounds on stall doors and walls, as if trying to scare others out of the bathroom so she can have privacy.

The Theatre’s Secret Haunted Tunnels

As if six ghosts don’t provide enough paranormal activity at the Egyptian Theatre, there are other reports not yet tied to any known ghosts. In the theater’s basement tunnels, paranormal investigators have reported a bright ball of blue light traversing the length of the tunnel and then disappearing. Many investigators have since tried to replicate this, but no one has yet found a natural cause for the mysterious light.

Paranormal Investigations of the Egyptian Theatre

Ghostly encounters at the Egyptian Theatre have become almost as common as movie nights there over the years. Recently, the theater opened itself up to paranormal enthusiasts with flashlight ghost tours and private paranormal investigations. Through those, more paranormal encounters and even some reported paranormal evidence has come out, driving additional interest in the theatre and other haunted places in DeKalb, Il.

DeKalb Illinois' Egyptian Theatre, both beautiful and haunted

Flashlight tours and paranormal investigations at the Egyptian Theatre can still be booked today, but act fast – the schedule only gets busier as the business and unexplained events at the Egyptian develop. Make sure this is at the top of your list when looking for haunted places to visit in Illinois – while you won’t find King Tut’s ghost lingering around, but you may come across a few other ghosts who are quite happily entombed there.