“The Florida Theatre is pleased to announce that the theatre’s famous “Ghost Seat” has returned safely home after being refurbished as part of the theatre’s current seating renovation.”
With that announcement in a press release, the paranormal world can breath a big sigh of relief as the “Holy Grail of Paranormal Investigation” was re-installed at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville, Florida. No, this 'ghost seat' isn’t a toilet seat still warm from the bathroom’s previous occupant. This Ghost Seat has reportedly had some real ghosts seated in it. You’ve never heard of the Florida Theatre’s Ghost Seat? Grab some popcorn and get ready for the tale.
“We did not want our ghost to be homeless if his or her seat went away permanently. They are the only two seats being restored. Every other seat is being replaced. Hopefully the ghost does not mind being without his or her seat for a few weeks."
Numa Saisselin, president of the theater, says the nearly 100-year-old theater was undergoing a $10 million renovation during the pandemic shutdown. The theatre was built in 1927 as a vaudeville venue and silent films theater. It now hosts concerts and theatrical events as well as graduations, awards ceremonies, lectures, business meetings and charity events. A total of 1,948 seats were removed and replaced with slightly wider new ones – 500 were sold as souvenirs – but two, Balcony E1 and E2, were being shipped to Michigan to be refurbished. Why?
“The lore started in 1997 when WJCT Public Television examined the theatre in a production that used psychic consultant Jill Cook-Richards. She claimed a male ghost spoke to her, and said he wanted to be called “J” for Joy, which is what he felt for the theatre."
In 2010, WJCT produced the TV show Local Haunts during which a paranormal investigation led by Steve Christian captured images of what was claimed to be a ghost of a man sitting in the balcony, in Section 500, Row E, Seat 2. Christian called it “The Holy Grail of paranormal investigation” and the name stuck – especially after the SyFy Channel's Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files TV Show came in with infrared cameras, thermal imaging, and EVP recorders and heard noises and discovered heat signatures in two places in the orchestra section and in balcony seat E2. Who or what is causing it?
“She (Jill Cook-Richards) also reported that J, or perhaps Jay, was there to protect Joe Collier, then the building’s maintenance manager. This has led some to speculate that Jay was a former building manager himself.”
Will the ghost return to his old seat now that it has been spiffed up? Perhaps, if it is fan of big band music. The first concert scheduled at the renovated Florida Theatre is the Big Bad Voodoo Daddy’s Wild and Swingin’ Holiday Party. Will the ghost practice social distancing and wear a mask like everyone else is supposed to? This is Florida – who knows if ghosts follow the rules or act like the living.
Everyone associated with the Florida Theatre will be holding their collective breaths in hope that their money-making Holy Grail of Paranormal Investigation settles back into E2, relaxes and stomps his apparitional feet to “Go Daddy-O."