A story of heartbreak has turned into a local ghost story surrounding Van Buren’s King Opera House. The building first opened in the late 19th century in the peak of the Victorian Era. It’s during that time the King Opera House gained its ghostly origins.
The legend goes that a young actor who was part of a theater troupe was performing at the King Opera House. While in Van Buren he fell in love with the young daughter of the town doctor. It was a relationship the young girl's father would not approve of. The two planned to runaway together and went to the Van Buren Train Depot in hopes of fleeing the town.
When the town doctor found out he became furious and took off in a horse and buggy for the train depot where it's said he whipped the young actor to death.
Today, the tale has emerged into a legend surrounding Van Buren's King Opera House. Many former directors of the facility say the ghost of the young man wandered to the old theater where he remains today.
Several former employees who have worked at the King Opera House say when they are alone they often feel like there's someone in the room with them. A former director with the Young Actors Guild, which in the past regularly performed at the King Opera House also said she once turned off the lights only to discover every light in the theater had turned on by itself the following morning. Others actually say they've seen the ghost of the young actor in person.
The ghost is said to materialize, dressed in a top hat and victorian style coat with a long cape, still longing to be with the young girl he fell in love with all those years ago.