TULSA, Okla. — Tulsa is rich in history with haunted halls throughout the city giving the best paranormal experience for those willing to look for them.
From Cain's Ballroom to Gilcrease Museum, things go bump in the night for a lot of unexpected places throughout town. Just as there are many haunted places, there are also urban legends, places rumored to have ghosts in their spaces, across Tulsa.
Teri French of Tulsa Spirit Tours knows a thing or two about the ultimate paranormal experience and she talked to 2 News Oklahoma about these urban legends and how they came to be.
The Philbrook Museum of Art is a cultural and historical place in Tulsa since 1927.
Many visitors to the museum say not only does the museum seem to have an ominous atmosphere, but the statues' eyes follow people around the rooms. Some even claim they've seen the heads on the statues move to look at them.
However, French said Philbrook’s hauntings or otherwise are, at best, just an urban legend.
“Anybody can look at a painting and feel the eyes are following you,” explained French. “That’s pretty natural. Actually, last time I went I had staff tell me they wish they were haunted because they would’ve loved for me to bring tours there.”
Philbrook may serve as the perfect backdrop to a haunted story, but all it is just open to interpretation – just like its art.
It's an iconic performing arts space dating back to the 1950s in Tulsa.
As of 2021, the Spotlight Theater hosts America's longest continuous run of its theatrical productions. The Drunkard and Olio started running every Saturday in 1953 and continues to this day.
Due to that long history, it's no surprise there are claims it is haunted. What gets really interesting about these rumors is that they claim the spirits aren’t welcoming.
It's believed someone entering the basement will hear footsteps coming to them with scratching noises to follow. Witnesses even said there are scratch marks on the basement walls to prove something lurks down there.
However, this is another one French said is just rumors.
“We’ve never been called out there. When I was writing my book, I’d heard stories too,” French said. “I called and talked to them. One of the guys I talked to told me that he had been working there 60 some odd years and the place was not haunted.”
French isn’t surprised the rumors exist though with people coming in and out, there are bound to be stories.
Will Rogers High School
This Tulsa Public Schools building is apparently haunted by the spirit of a man who wears a white tuxedo. Witnesses say he is often seen in the auditorium where he will be on stage or hanging around backstage.
According to legend, the man in the white tuxedo is the spirit of Dr. Carl Barnett. He was a band director who supposedly died of a heart attack during a band concert in the auditorium in 1974.
Despite the sightings of the man in white, French can’t confirm one way or another if the school is haunted.
“I’ve heard a lot of stories about it being haunted. In fact, a lot of schools are haunted,” explained French. “There’s a lot of energy going in schools so it’s not surprising it can be felt there.”
French and her team haven’t been called out there, but it’s common for places like schools, but also hospitals to be filled with spirits. She believes the amount of energy and emotions is what attracts spirits to places like those the most.
In fact, she said schools are prime places for poltergeists to come out and play.
No one knows what lies there – but the school building itself is significant to Tulsa. It’s on the National Register of Historic Places for its art deco style and architecture.
French is familiar with all these places, haunted or just urban legend-wise. But there are other places she’s itching to research including the American Legion building and the VFW, which are some of the oldest buildings in the city.
She’s also kept an eye out for the Tulsa Firehouse that’s next to Oaklawn Cemetery. French says both places are filled with claims of activity, especially since mass graves investigations have gone on nearby. Since Oaklawn was Tulsa’s first cemetery, it’s filled with many secrets she would love to uncover.
These new discoveries and tips are why she changes up the Tulsa Spirit Tours to include new or old locations to keep Tulsans invested in their local history.
“I don’t know where I’m going to be in five, ten years, but as long as people want them, I’ll keep doing them.”
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