Posted: Feb 2, 2012 5:13 PM by Marnee Banks (Helena)
Updated: Feb 3, 2012 12:07 PM
In 1905 the sound of change dropping into the offering plate echoed past the doors of the Unitarian Church.
Clara, the preacher's wife, had just died and the congregation was taking up a collection to buy a window in her memory.
Now more than 100 years later all that remains of Clara is the stained glass - and a ghost which some say haunts what is now the Grandstreet Theatre.
Theatre manager Tom Cordingley said, "It does get to you. You start hearing noises. You start seeing things out of the corner of your eye. It gets a little weird."
Cordingley says several people have experienced Clara's presence.
Cordingley recalled, "There was a woman that was working here with a table saw in the basement. She would cut some wood and turn off the saw, go upstairs, and the saw would come on. She's the only one in the building. So she goes back down to see what's going on and nobody's around."
Legend has it that Clara loved children and so still to this day she keeps watch over them as they take the stage; Cordingley said, "I hear there's a light, some kind of a glow up there, but I have yet to see it."
The story of Clara has been told and retold, and over the years exaggerated to say that Clara plunged to her death by falling from the balcony.
While no one really knows how she died, her memory remains etched in glass.
Our Haunted Helena series will continue next week as Evan Weborg takes us to Carroll College.