Temple Building Tour and Interview
Interview with Julie Hagemeier at Temple in Lincoln, Nebraska
On Friday July 27, 2018 I had the opportunity to interview Julie Hagemeier. I want to start off by saying that she was a delight to speak with and she went above and beyond to answer my questions and even provided a tour of the building so that I could see the places said to be haunted. Throughout the interview we discussed the history, ghost stories, entertainment, and layout of the building. She provided an incredible overview and even took the time to put together a packet of information for me to take home.
Julie is the General Manager of the Temple Building. Her day-to-day activities include everything from operations of the theater, marketing, publicity, public relations and external relations, company management, and much more. She became the General Manager in 1995 after graduating with a Master of Arts degree from the University of Nebraska. She loves the history of the building and the ghost stories associated with it. She enjoys sharing these elements with anyone who wants to learn more about the Temple Building.
The Temple Building was constructed as a result of a grant provided by John D. Rockefeller in 1904. The building is now a part of University of Nebraska campus, but was originally not placed on the property because the Rockefeller family, according to locals, used “tainted” money to fund the building. Construction officially began on April 17, 1906 and the doors opened in March of 1907. By raising funds through selling tickets , adjunct professor Harriet Alice Howell and the Dramatic Club donated $500 dollars. Their contribution was the largest monetary pledge by any student group and Howell would become a key figure within the theater. The Dramatic Club presented the first production, You Never Can Tell by George Bernard Shaw, on January 26, 1908. The Dramatic Club would later become the University Players under the leadership of Howell.
An expansion to the Temple Building was added in 1924 and the Studio Theater was opened in 1932. In 1954, Howell Theater was opened. The new theater provided upgraded equipment, lighting, and sound with new theater seating and a stage. 1979 brought on an entire renovation of the building in which everything was updated except for Howell Stage and the attic. As of today, the only area in the building that has not been renovated is the attic.
According to Julie, the attic is the most notorious section of the building for hauntings. Several people have reported supernatural events. One of her favorite stories involved a prop master who was trying to find the perfect doll for the play The Woman in Black that is about a ghost story involving a mother who lost her child. While searching the attic, the prop master went to the area where toys are stored. He found several dolls but didn’t like one in particular, so he took each ones head off and moved them around to different bodies. He left for lunch, leaving the doll heads laying out for him to work on when he returned. Upon returning, he found all of the heads had been replaced back on each original body. He claims that he locked the door to the attic before leaving and was the only person who had been up there that day. Others have also reported several instances of paranormal activity associated with the toy section. The attic is also an area of the building that frequently is reported to have objects move on their own, especially chairs, that tend to move back to the original spot it was taken from.
Theater chairs in the balcony of Howell Theater move on their own as if someone just stood up and the sound of clapping is frequently heard. On the stage, tap dancing has been heard on numerous occasions when no one is up there. Lights flicker on and off and shadows have been seen moving back and forth from the sound booth to the light booth, which because of a lack of a door, was impossible.
The most common ghost story told about Temple Theater involves the death of a carpenter. During the original construction of the building in 1906, the carpenter, along with his father and brother, were working on the building. One morning while standing on one of the cross beams of the fourth floor, the carpenter lost his balance and fell to his death in the area that is the Howell Theater stage today. People heard noises near stage left, get a clammy feeling on their skin, and feel as if they are being watched.
The most notorious ghost said to haunt Temple Theater is that of the late Department Head Dallas Williams. Williams had a larger than life personality. He was eccentric, acerbic, and a trickster at times. He was legendary with his students because of his personality. Williams was chair of the department from 1940 until his death in 1971. He was known to throw chairs across the room to get everyone’s attention. Although Williams did not die in the building he is generally the one to blame when chairs move across the floor when no one is around.
Temple provides a wide variety entertainment. The Nebraska Repertory Theatre has performances that tend to be newer work that has just been on Broadway. They are composed of professional actors, directions, and designers, but do include student involvement. This year they are celebrating their 50th Anniversary. Some of their upcoming performances include Mother Courage in November and Hair in March through April of 2019. Temple also houses Theatrics, which is completely student run. Students produce, direct, and sometimes write for these performances. All students in Theatrics are undergrads. Three theaters are within the building to provide a home for such a vast array of entertainment.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Julie for taking the time out of her day to speak with me and show me around Temple. I truly appreciated her willingness to share her stories and the tour she provided was fun and enlightening.
For more information about upcoming events at Temple check out:
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