Fred the Ghost
The State Theatre is proud to boast of a paranormal legend … FRED the Ghost, who has made several appearances in the past few years to patrons, volunteers, and staff.
Here’s the story:
While live performances at the State Theatre were in decline during the 1970’s, there were strange sightings reported – a presence no one could account for. When the theatre was empty, maintenance workers would sometimes glimpse a man at the back of the theatre, just standing, or perhaps entering one of the utility closets. On a few occasions, the police were called and found no one in the building. Once, hair bristled on the necks of dogs they had brought, but nothing was visible to the officers.
Several people have guessed at the identity of the mystery man, J. Fred Osterstock, a distinguished looking gentleman who managed the company that owned the theatre from 1936-1965. Due to a flood in 1955 that covered the first floor of his house for several weeks, Fred lived at the State Theatre, setting up home in the office located to the right of the foyer. He died on October 20, 1957 and is buried in Easton Cemetery. His spirit continues to live on at the State Theatre.
Convinced that his presence has never left, the staff of the State Theatre has named the ghost FRED. Almost ten sightings have been reported, with some of the voyeurs being members of the State’s Board of Directors. Then in the late 1970’s, Historian Ken Klabunde saw someone walk off the empty stage while closing for the evening. Some time later he found a photograph of Osterstock and recognized him as the man on the stage.
Fred has managed to endure the State Theatre’s restoration, completed in 1990, and continues to have a strong, distinct presence at the State. He is included in the book Ghost Stories of the Lehigh Valley and was introduced to the nation in 1999 on the syndicated radio program The Mike Gallagher Show, which broadcast live from the State Theatre, paying tribute to the Theatre’s live-in friend.
In 2003, the State Theatre honored FRED by naming the Annual FREDDY AWARDS after him – an awards ceremony that recognizes outstanding achievement in local high school theater.
Follow FRED on Twitter @FredtheGhostPA
State Theatre History
that appeared in 2017 Easton Irregular, Heritage Edition.
|1873||Northampton National Bank constructed. The granite facade and the Foyer are original.|
|1910||The bank was demolished and the small Neumeyer Theatre was built.|
|1914-1916||The theater’s name changed from Neumeyer Theatre to the Northampton Theatre, and then to the Colonial Theatre.|
|1925||Architect William H. Lee of Philadelphia was employed to design a new, larger theatre. He was inspired by the architecture of old Spain and the Davanzanti Place in Florence, Italy. Many local Italian artisans created the elaborate frescoes and gilding.|
|1930-1960||The death of Vaudeville and the development of talking pictures was evident at the State. A larger movie screen and new equipment for stereophonic sound were installed.|
|1960-1981||The lobby and foyer were painted brown and blue, covering the beautiful frescos. The theatre was used primarily for rock concerts during the 1970s.|
|1981||The theatre was turned over to the National Development Council. Threatened with demolition, a group of concerned citizens calling themselves the “Friends of the State Theatre” raised enough money to purchase the theatre, screening classic films to ensure some income. The State Theatre was established as a 501(c)3 non-profit organization.|
|1982||The City of Easton provides a $20,000.00 grant to investigate the possibilities of the theatre.|
|1985||The neighboring “Best Market” is acquired by the “Friends of the State Theatre.”|
|1986||RENAISSANCE CAMPAIGN – PHASE ONE:
$1.2 million was raised by the Friends. Renovations included upgrading the stage (a state-of-the-art gridiron, the structure which supports stage props and lights), a new velvet curtain, and new lighting controls. Fire and smoke alarms, exits and lights, and bathroom facilities were added, as were an upgraded and expanded electrical system.
|1990||RENAISSANCE CAMPAIGN – FINAL PHASE:
$2.5 million raised from private, corporate, and public partners. Renovations include the restoration of all seats, installation of new carpeting, and the construction of openings and stairways to connect the theatre with the Best Market. A comprehensive artistic restoration (ceilings, walls, etc.) is completed.
|1997-1998||This State Theatre Center for the Arts season has 53 performances, attracting 60,000 patrons.|
|1999-2000||This State Theatre Center for the Arts season has 92 performances, and attracts nearly 100,000 patrons.|
|2001||The State Theatre celebrates its historic 75th season. The annual reading program “Spotlight on Reading,” encouraging literacy in local 5-8 year-olds, begins during the summer of 2001. For the first time ever, the State Theatre stages over 100 performances in one year.|
|2002||The State Theatre announces the 2003 FREDDY© Awards, recognizing significant accomplishments in high school musical theatre. The first phase of construction begins, and new administrative office space is opened.|
|2003||The cameras roll as the first ever State Theatre Center for the Arts FREDDY© Awards is televised live on WFMZ Channel 69. Twenty-two High Schools from Lehigh & Northampton Counties in Pennsylvania and Warren County New Jersey compete for outstanding achievement awards in 21 categories, including a student scholarship from DeSales University.|
|2005||The State Theatre and WFMZ Channel 69 received a 2005 Mid-Atlantic EMMY® Award for outstanding Performing Arts Program for the 2004 FREDDY© Awards telecast.|
|2009||The BRAVO! Capital Project gets underway, designed to address the needs that are crucial to the continued viability of the State Theatre. A Patron Annex with much needed rest-rooms, a new HVAC system, facade and sidewalk renovations (meeting the standards of downtown Easton’s historic district), a new stage floor, as well as production improvements to include expanded wing space and artist accommodations, are all part of this important project.|
|2010||FREDDY© Awards are the subject of a feature length documentary film by CanyonBack Films, Los Angeles. Most Valuable Players previews at the State Theatre in April, and has its world premier as part of the DocuWeeks Showcase in New York and Los Angeles. The $3.6 million BRAVO! Capital Campaign is completed. Facade, lobby and production improvements better position the 19th century theatre to accommodate 21st century audiences and performances.|
|2011||The FREDDY© Awards receives it’s 2nd Mid-Atlantic EMMY® Award for outstanding Performing Arts Program for the 2010 FREDDY© Awards telecast.|
|2012||The FREDDY© Awards celebrates its 10th anniversary, entitled “FRED X.” 30 schools participate. A total of 30,000 students have participated and over $300,000 in college scholarships have been awarded through the program since inception.|
|2014||The State Theatre is approved as an Education Improvement Organization by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for the FREDDY© program. Buinesses that are awarded tax credits through the Commonwealth’s EITC program may now direct allocations in support of the FREDDY© program.|
|2015-17||The State Theatre embarks on annual, public Year-End Fundraising Campaigns which include the installment of a new main stage curtain, roof repairs, interior plaster repairs, LED lighting upgrades and renovations to The Gallery Annex.|
|2017||The historic State Theatre celebrates 90 Years of WOW. The Season culminated with the 90 Years of WOW Gala in June, featuring a main stage performance by Juno Award winner Jim Witter that was written specifically for the State Theatre.|
|2017||The FREDDY© Awards celebrate 15 years and surpasses the $1,000,000 mark in Scholarships and Community Awards passed through the program to participating students and schools.|