Mabel Tainter Theater

Sanity Check Paranormal Investigators

Cottage Grove, MN.

Mabel Tainter Theater Investigation 12/06/08



Investigation: Mabel Tainter Theatre, Menomonie WI.

Case No: MT0003

Date: 12/06/08

Time: 8:00 p.m.- 4:00 a.m.



SCPI – Ken, Melissa, Steve, Christy, Dan, Deb, Brian, and Nancy

HPT – Tim, Judy & Erin



Moon: Half Moon

Weather: Clear Sky, Temperature 12 degrees, wind 7 mph

Background Information:


The Mabel Tainter Memorial Theatre was built out of love and dedication by parents for their child who died too young, and a strong desire to contribute to the moral and social welfare of the community. Captain Andrew and Bertha Tainter suffered the loss of their beloved, 19 year old daughter, Mabel in 1886. At the urging of their pastor, Henry Maxton, Captain Andrew and Bertha Tainter decided to build a theatre in tribute and memory of Mabel, because Mabel loved the dramatic arts.

This glorious 2-3 story building was built with the best materials used to create a lovely memorial to a special daughter. The walls and ceiling of this 313 seat theatre are decorated with hand-stenciled moorish designs, rounded windows, and brass hammers with designs.

The Mabel Tainter Memorial Theatre is now a non-profit organization who offers free tours daily. With the money raised, through donations, this theatre offers a “full performing arts season”.

Ken (founder of SCPI) had discovered this location by a web search. Ken then contacted the theatre to set up an interview with Vickie (general manager) and coordinate a meeting with the head of their staff.

After a time and date was agreed upon, Ken traveled to the theater and met with Vickie and conducted an interview. After the interview Vickie had put Ken in contact with Gary (executive director).

Gary had invited Ken to participate in their staff meeting, introducing Sanity Check Paranormal Investigators to his staff members. It was several days later that they had called Ken and agreed to allow Sanity Check Paranormal Investigators to perform an investigation.

Ken then traveled back to the theatre and held a second interview with Vickie. Vickie proceeded to give Ken a tour describing many incidents that had occurred. Some of the incidents included:

  • Reports of strange lights in the library
  • Full apparitions of a female entity whom walks in and out of the women’s bathroom (lower level). She has also been seen staring at herself in the mirror with a confused look on her face.
  • Another full apparition of a female from a different era walking the second floor.
  • Apparitions watching performers on stage.
  • Dark shadows moving across the room.
  • Unexplained footsteps the Gallery
  • Apparitions of a man in the Pastors Study
  • Smell of cigar smoke.
  • Electrical stage equipment being tampered with

It should also be known that there has been no deaths in the building itself, meaning the entities that may haunt this place died someplace else.

An investigation time and date was agreed upon for Saturday December 6th.



Prior to the investigation, Ken had invited three members of the Hastings Paranormal Team to join them in the investigation. Those members consisted of Tim, the founder of HPT, Erin (a sensitive) and Judy (also a sensitive). They had agreed to meet at a location on the way to the theatre.

Sanity Check Paranormal had first met up at Dan’s house at 1800, loaded equipment and departed for Menomonie WI. The team had met up with HPT on the way and arrived at the theatre at 2000. The team was met at the door by Vickie. After introducing the team, the team proceeded to the lower level to set up a common area (headquarters).

All employees of the theatre had left at approx. 2045 locking the doors behind them. The alarm system had been disarmed and local police were notified of our presence.

Once we got down to the lower level to get set up, Ken noticed that Judy and Erin had left the group and disappeared in a back room below the stage. When confronted, they had claimed that they were pulled back to that room by a strong feeling. They sensed a male presence back in the dressing room under the stage. Ken at that point recommended that they do a brief walk through to get familiar with all the rooms. Once reaching the stage on the main floor, both Erin and Judy again felt the presence of what they felt was a male above the stage on the catwalk. They also reported seeing shadows moving up on the catwalk. Many photos were taken at that point. The EMF detector was activated but did not respond. The shadows quickly disappeared. The team then proceeded back to the lower level to pair up in smaller teams to begin the investigation. Ken had taken Judy and Erin in the hallway in front of the women’s bathroom and was explaining what he wanted them to do. While talking to them Erin quickly grabbed her shoulder and turned around claiming that she was just tapped on her shoulder. We looked to see if anything was near her or hanging from the ceiling and there was nothing. She then proceeded to walk into the women’s bathroom and immediately had to back out because of such a heavy feeling. Tim had come over and then he went into the bathroom and he also had to immediately come out. The bathroom was extremely cold at that time and gave a feeling of dreadfulness. Both experiencing an eerie feeling, prompted the team to set up equipment immediately and begin the investigation. The team began to equip themselves with the proper equipment.

All investigating teams were equipped with audio recorders, EMF detectors and digital cameras. Three night vision video recorders were set up on tripods in three different locations. One video recorder was set up in the Pastor’s Office, the second video camera was set up in the Library and the third video camera was set up in the lower level facing the women’s restroom. These cameras would run through the duration of the investigation.

After a short discussion, the team broke into smaller groups and began the investigation at 2145.

Ken, Christy and Tim proceeded to investigate the Library on the main floor where strange lights and shadows have been reported seen. Steve, Erin and Nancy began their investigation in the Gallery on the 2nd floor where footsteps were often heard. Dan, Judy and Melissa proceeded to the Dressing Room behind the stage on the main floor. Brian and Debbie remained in the common area in the lower level to maintain the computer.

In the Library, Christy, Ken and Tim all tried to communicate with someone by calling. While Tim used the EMF detector Ken held the audio recorder. On the wall was a large portrait of Mabel Tainter. Tim had tried to use the portrait as a part of channeling to communicate with Mabel or others. He got no response. Christy noticed several lights and shadows moving across the wall and ceiling. After further investigation the team came to the conclusion that it was caused by cars driving by. It appeared to be headlights and reflections from outside. While trying once again to communicate with someone, the chandelier began to make noise and small movement when we asked for a sign. They were notified that another team of investigators were in the room above them and it could have been them walking about making the chandelier move. They continued calling for a response while recording the entire investigation. All three team members agreed feeling safe and comfortable feeling nothing uneasy.

In the Gallery, Steve and Erin reported smelling women’s perfume and the sweet smell of leather. Nancy however did not smell anything. They continued calling trying to communicate with someone while recording the entire investigation with an audio recorder.

Back in the old Dressing Rooms behind the stage Judy proceeded to call while using an EMF detector and Dan held the audio recorder. While waiting to hear a response, all three team members heard the sound of what appeared to be a female hum. The source of the sound was never found. The sound was later heard on the audio recorder. They continued there investigation with no other experiences.

All team members reassembled back at the common area to regroup.

When returning to the common area Brian and Deb reported that during the investigation they experienced a loud bang coming from the back dressing rooms below the stage where no one had been. They had taken some photos at that time and felt that it would be best to stay and continue to manage the computer.

Different members were assigned together and given new areas to investigate.

Ken, Christy and Erin would now proceed to the women’s bathroom in the lower level were a female entity has been reported seen. Steve, Melissa and Judy proceeded to the dressing rooms under the stage in the lower level. Dan and Tim would try to debunk a window shade that has been reported to move violently on its own on the main level and then proceed to the Pastor Office on the 2nd floor.

Once arriving at the women’s restroom, Ken, Erin and Christy were preparing to investigate when they had heard a female scream. It appeared to be coming from upstairs. Before they could investigate the scream, Dan and Tim returned from upstairs with a question about a location. Ken then asked if they heard a woman scream. Dan replied yes and that he thought it was coming from downstairs. After a brief discussion, Dan and Tim proceeded back to the Pastors Office. The scream was unexplained but it is possible that it came from outside from people passing by.

Ken, Christy and Erin began calling in the women’s bathroom. The bathroom was extremely cold during the investigation. Christy and Erin had stood near one corner of the bathroom while Ken sat in one of the stalls with an audio recorder and a thermometer. Ken recalled getting a cold sensation on his back and neck. After further investigation they found an air vent directly above the stalls pushing cold air in the room. They then began to look for any heat sources and found none in the bathroom.

After being unsuccessful in getting a response in the bathroom, Christy and Erin left the bathroom only to sit down right outside the bathroom door. Erin had sat on a couch next to the area that she had felt a tap on her shoulder earlier. Christy had sat down on the stairs that lead up to the main entry area. Ken had stayed in the bathroom with an audio recorder. Christy suddenly experienced a cold breeze pass by her on the stairs and immediately said that is was on her left side. Erin immediately took a picture of Christy at that moment. When looking at the picture Erin had taken, it shows a solid orb along side Christy’s left side. Christy claims that it felt as if it was moving up the stairs. They continued to call out for a sign but had no results.

Ken, Erin and Christy then proceeded to the nearby storage room. Ken noticed a strange light appear on the wall and then disappeared. All three members agreed that it was due to a vehicle passing by outside. There seemed to be little activity in the storage room.

Tim and Dan were able to debunk the moving shade. They found a vent near the shade along with a slight breeze from the window. There was very little movement in the shade. Although the shade did not move violently, there was some movement in it. They tried to communicate by asking for movement in the shade and got no response.

Tim and Dan then proceeded to the Pastor Office for further investigation. There was no sign of any activity.

Steve, Melissa and Judy proceeded to the dressing rooms in the lower level below the stage. This area was a strong interest to both Judy and Erin (sensitive’s) when we first arrived. Judy reports that the feeling in there now is far different than earlier in the evening. It seemed to be much more relaxed. Judy was using an EMF detector, Melissa and Steve held an audio recorder. They found no signs of activity.

The team reassembled in the common area. At that point, Tim, Erin and Judy from the Hastings Paranormal Team had departed.

After a short break, the team reassembled to new areas.

Ken, Steve, Melissa and Deb would proceed to the attic. Christy and Brian would proceed to the stage. Dan and Nancy would return to the Pastors Office.

In the attic, Ken and Melissa spent time at the east side of the attic while Steve and Deb stayed at the west end. It was very dark in that area and was also very loud. All of the mechanics for the heating and air conditioning were located in that space. Ken and Melissa began calling to communicate. Because it was so difficult to hear, Ken and Melissa walked over to where Steve and Deb were sitting.

Steve and Deb had mentioned that they had heard the sounds of chains rattling. They claim that it was coming from a closed door in the attic. Steve and Ken proceeded to open the door and found themselves on a catwalk above the stage. As Steve began walking on the catwalk, he then heard the sound of a chain once again. Ken did not hear it. However, it was later heard on the audio recorder. Melissa and Deb stood outside the door. Steve and Ken noticed that there are some chains hanging above the stage some of which were attached to ropes. Ken tried to move them by hand to make them rattle. The chains were very taunt and did not make a sound. The team tried to debunk the chain sound but was unsuccessful. They continued the investigation and found no other activity in the attic.

In the stage area, Christy and Brian began there investigation. They both had first sat in the seats of the audience area. It was there that they experienced the smell of roses or a floral scent related to possibly some kind of perfume. They had both noticed this. Knowing that all investigators were told not to wear any perfume or cologne, they immediately began to search for the source of the smell. After looking around to see where the smell could be coming from they than began to walk up on the stage. While walking up on the stage, they again both smelled the scent of roses. The odor then disappeared. The source of the smell was never determined. They continued there investigation on the stage and found no further activity.

Up in the Pastors Office, Dan and Nancy felt nothing unusual and reported no activity.

The team reassembled in the common area.

After a short break, the team once again set out in new areas.

Ken and Melissa proceeded to the balcony on the second floor. Steve and Deb would investigate the dressing rooms under the stage on the lower level. Dan and Nancy would investigate the library. Christy and Brian would now investigate the kitchen area in the lower level.

Ken and Melissa with an audio recorder, sat up in the balcony, right of the stage. Ken had seen a light move from right to left in the organ room just below the balcony left of the stage. He took several pictures. Ken noticed a light pass from left to right in the organ room a second time. Melissa did not see the light. Ken and Melissa then walked up to the nearby Pastor Office for a short time and found no activity there. Ken and Melissa then started to walk across to the balcony left of the stage. Ken began to call trying to communicate with someone. Ken asked for a sign and shortly after that he heard a noise coming from the balcony left of the stage. They had walked closer to the balcony and asked again for another sign and once again there was a bump or bang that came from the balcony left of the stage. After several pictures they were greeted by Dan and Nancy on the main level. It is undetermined what the noises were. After Dan and Nancy showed up, they were not heard again.

Ken and Melissa then left that area and proceeded to briefly visit several rooms on there way back to the common area. While walking past the main entry to go down stairs, Ken had heard the rattling of a door knob. He was sure someone was trying to get in the front door. When he turned around to check the door, there was no one outside of the door. Ken checked the door and it was still locked. Ken and Melissa then proceeded to go to the common area.

Dan and Nancy found no activity in the Library. They then walked to the main level and entered the stage and seating area. They had seen Ken and Melissa up on the second floor. Dan and Nancy proceeded back to the common area.

Steve and Deb experienced no activity in the dressing rooms below the stage. They then proceeded back to the common area.

In the Kitchen area, Christy and Brian once again came across the scent of roses/flowers. This was very interesting considering they were nowhere near the stage where they smelled it last time. They then heard a loud bang in the kitchen. After further investigation it appeared to be coming from an ice maker in the kitchen. They then proceeded back to the common area.

The team began breaking down the equipment and departed the location at approximately 0345.



SCPI conducted an investigation at this location to investigate unexplained activity experienced both by employees and guests. The activity reported ranged from full apparitions to shadows moving across the rooms. Others reported smell of cigar smoke, strange lights and playful tricks with stage equipment. The full apparitions consisted of two different females. One has been seen on more than one occasion standing in the women’s restroom staring in the mirror. She has also been seen moving about, in and out of the restroom. The other female was seen in the kitchen by one of the employees whom no longer work for the theatre. The females seem to be from two different eras. One appears to be from the 1800’s. The other could possibly be from the 1950’s.

SCPI conducted the investigation using a variety of devices throughout the location. The devices included several video recorders, audio recorders, EMF detectors, thermometers, compasses, several digital cameras and two sensitives.

Some team members did report a variety of feelings while in certain areas. Both sensitive’s experienced entities in two different locations. One of the sensitives was physically touched by an unknown source. This experience happened just outside the women’s restroom on the lower level.


Incidents or Experiences:


  • Numerous EVP’s were obtained, most sounded like a female voice.
  • Numerous Orbs were seen in many digital photographs.
  • Sensitive team members “felt” the presence of a female entity near the women’s restroom on the lower level.
  • Sensitive team members “felt” the presence of a male entity above the stage area on the catwalk.
  • One sensitive team member was tapped on her shoulder by what she believes to be a female entity.
  • One team member experienced a feeling of tightness in the head and throat in the gallery.
  • Two team members heard noises in the balcony left of the stage.
  • Several team members heard the scream of a female.
  • Two team members had smelled the odor of roses/flowers in the audience seating area and on stage. They also smelled roses in the lower level kitchen.
  • Two members heard a loud bang in the back dressing rooms below the stage.
  • One member experienced a cold movement on her left side while sitting still. A photo was taken of her at that exact time and a solid orb appears next to her on her left side.
  • Two members heard the sound of a chain rattling up in the attic area which appeared to be coming from the catwalk above the stage.
  • Two team members experienced the smell of fresh leather up in the gallery.



The primary goal of the investigation was to attempt to obtain through the use of electronic equipment and a variety of recording devices in an attempt to add validity to past claims or incidents that reported at the location. Most of these claims were provided by employees of the establishment.

SCPI was able to obtain numerous EVP’s on audio recording devices, sounding more like female, for which no reasonable source could be found. These EVP’s were obtained from many different locations in establishment. Digital photographs also revealed orbs in different locations.

Two sensitive members felt a female and male presence in two different locations. One of the sensitive members was physically tapped on the shoulder from behind.

Two team members experienced the smell of roses/flowers in two different areas. Two other team members experienced the smell of new leather in one location.

Two team members heard noises which appeared to be a response to a question asked.

After the collection and review of all evidence and compilation of reports, the evidence collected and reports submitted do appear to conclude that there is some activity of an unexplained nature occurring at the location. However, the evidence obtained and the personal experiences reported are not of the weight to label this location “haunted”. There is however, enough evidence to indicate that there is some form of paranormal activity occurring at the location, the source of which cannot be identified.

It is recommended that SCPI remain in contact with this location and that any new or additional activity be reported to SCPI for a possible follow-up investigation to attempt to obtain additional supportive evidence.

Signed  ____________________________________________      Date  _____/_____/_____

Founder SCPI









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