Back in 2012, the team, along with another Auckland based team, Auckland Spirit Chasers, headed to Devonport on Auckland’s North Shore to investigate this more than century old theatre where the ghost of a former projectionist is said to dwell.
The Victoria Theatre and Picture Palace is located in Devonport, on Auckland’s picturesque North Shore. Known for its beaches and expensive real-estate, the area was primarily rural settlement during the time the theatre was built, with Devonport being the local hub of activity due to its vicinity to the Naval port. Construction of the Auckland Harbour Bridge in 1959 turned the North Shore suburbs into a commuter town for the Auckland CBD, leading to a population boom in the region.
The Victoria Theatre was built in 1912 and is the earliest purpose-built cinema still in existence in the Southern Hemisphere. It was built by American John Leon Benwell during the silent movie era, when up to a thousand people could be seated in the theatre. In 1914 John Benwell wanted to return to the USA and sold the Victoria to a new picture company. In order to cash in on the “talkies” boom, in 1929 the company transformed the building from a “picture palace” into an art deco, up-to-date cinema. However the depression struck soon after, audience numbers plummeted and the company ceased operating in 1930. From 1945 Kerridge Odeon took over the Victoria and ran it successfully for 43 years, but by the late 1980’s patronage had dropped and the theatre was closed and put up for sale. The Vic was transformed again in 1989 by publisher, Bruce Palmer who converted the Victoria Theatre into Charley Gray’s Twin Cinemas Devonport, by separating the original stalls and circle.
The Victoria changed ownership several times during the 1990’s and into the new millennium and operated with various degrees of success. In 2001 it faced being turned into apartments and there were a number of attempts by local groups to retain the Vic as a theatrical and cinema space. Following the energetic efforts of the original Victoria Theatre Trust, the North Shore City Council was persuaded to buy the building in 2006. In 2009 the current Trust successfully won the tender to lease the Victoria for 33 years.
Current staff report the present of an entity who they have named “Ethel”, believed to be a former projectionist who worked, and died, at the theatre. Reports include feelings of being watched, and some object manipulation.
The Victoria Theatre in Devonport is in our opinion worthy of further investigation.
This case is still open…
About the virtual tour
We’ve partnered with Muse3D, one of New Zealand’s leading providers of full-immersion, virtual reality tours for the real estate, tourism and commercial industries.
Muse 3D uses a high tech Matterport 3D visionary system which consists of 9 lenses, and sensors, to capture 3D imagery.
The Matterport Scanner doesn’t take photographs, or video, instead it scans a property, which in turn, creates a fully immersive, virtual tour which allows you to tour the haunted locations we investigate. All from your computer, phone or in virtual reality!
Meta-tags highlight areas of interest; the reported activity, our experiences there and any relevant information. Later there will be video snippets included to feature captured evidence etc. These will be added to with each investigation session, so it’ll always be up-to-date.