The Campus Theater’s mischievous manager

Posted: August 6, 2012 in Denton Ghost Stories, Haunted Happenings

Denton’s beloved Campus Theater isn’t just a place to enjoy wonderful community plays, it is also the haunt for one of Denton’s guardian spirits, Mr. Harrison! Over the years, Denton has showcased numerous entertainment venues like the regal Wright Opera House (now home to Recycled Books) and movie cinemas in Andy’s Paschall Building as well as the infamous 1920s-50s “Theater Row” on the West side of the Denton Square. The Campus Theater was opened in 1949 with the film I Was A Male War Bride starring Dentonite Ann Sheridan and Cary Grant, then later hosted Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway’s red-carpet world premiere of Bonnie & Clyde in 1967. The theater closed in 1985 for almost 10 years before being remodeled to house the Denton Community Theater, which is about to celebrate its 43rd consecutive season as one of the oldest such groups in the nation. In 2009, the building was designated a Texas Historical Landmark.

J.P. Harrison was the Texas Interstate Theaters’ business manager for The Campus Theater when it first opened, known for sharply dressing in a gray suit and his wily sense of humor. He famously constructed elaborate lobby displays with local high school drama clubs and was an active civic leader. Theater folk are a superstitious bunch and Harrison is also said to have had great fun in pranking his employees… a proclivity that has not ended even after his passing! There are many stories of this mischievous manager continuing to startle performers and patrons with ghostly footsteps patrolling the halls, relocating objects in offices and onstage, or tinkering with the lights during late night rehearsals, but it’s considered bad luck if a production does NOT experience Mr. Harrison’s ghost! Needless to say, most shows have been very successful indeed.

The beloved Mr. Harrison

The beloved Mr. Harrison

The DENTON HAUNTS GHOST TOUR will share some of these hair-raising encounters during our twilight ghost walk of the haunted Denton Square!! LIKE us on Facebook to to stay up-to-date on our tour schedule!

  1. Doc T says:

    A rather humorous “Letter to the Editor” ran in the 6 August 2007 Denton Record-Chronicle, from former officer Dwight Crawford of Sanger, recalls how Denton Co. Sheriff’s deputies helped keep the peace along the Square’s Theater Row late at night during the 70s. Explains Officer Crawford:

    “Jim Tom and I would drive up in our police car. We would strike up a conversation and tell them that they should not dally around and they should head straight home. We would tell them that ‘Wolf Man’ had been seen out tonight and he was on the prowl. Then we would elaborate on his evil deeds and what he looked like.

    They all would usually laugh and walk off shaking their heads in disbelief. Jim Tom and I would drive off then intercept their route. We would find a wooded area, hide the police car, turn off the lights, and turn on the outside speaker.

    When we saw the group approaching, one of us would howl like a wolf over the mike. They would scatter like a covey of quail. Our official police cruiser could run 140mph any day of the week, but they’d be home, in bed, with the lights out before we could get there.

    Those were the days when police officers were your friend, and used their common sense to prevent crime.”

    Common sense and a few Andy Griffith-style shenanigans, it seems!

  2. I went on this Salem ghost tour that told us about this mischievous Park Ranger that would dig up an old uniform and where it as she walked pass a window with people on a ghost tour looking up at her as her friend shined a flashlight from below. Afterwards she would put back on her Park Ranger uniform and go down and talk to the people on the tour about the ghost that haunts the Custom House.

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