Born brings downtown Champaign hauntings to life

Born brings downtown Champaign hauntings to life


Mahomet resident Camille Born debuts a tale of a haunting at the Orpheum Theater during “After Dark: Champaign Ghost Stories.” Admission to the spooky tales go to benefit the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum.

Along the old, muddy streets of Champaign, when laboring immigrants made local empires possible and the Orpheum Theater housed a vaudeville and moving pictures theater, criminal activity and ghost stories haunted the area.

Mahomet resident Camille Born brings these tales and the historical downtown area to life through “After Dark: Champaign Ghost Stories.

The 60-minute tour begins at the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, which originally opened in 1914 to house variety show acts, such as the Marx Brothers, Will Rogers and Harry Houdini. Born will then take guests to landmark spots throughout Downtown Champaign before ending the tour with a debuted haunting in the stunning Orpheum Theater.

While all of the stories are not native to Champaign, Born melds paranormal activity with accurate Champaign history. Through research and personal interviews, Born selected eight stories which highlight a boggy downtown area, railroad workers, prohibition and an enchanting entertainment era.

“There have been some disturbing events that occurred in downtown Champaign,” she said. “Disturbing events often lead to hauntings.”

Museum Coordinator Zoe Stinson contacted Born in late summer to coordinate a haunted storytelling event to benefit the Orpheum Children’s Science Museum.

Tours on Oct. 11, Oct. 18 and Oct. 25 at 7:30 and 9 p.m. are $10 for members and $15 for nonmembers. Participants must be 12 or older.

Born has been performing living history presentation since 1995. Before becoming a professional storyteller in 2005, she was known as “The Queen of Halloween” in her neighborhood. Born now enjoys telling spooky stories to audiences all month long.

The Orpheum Museum and Born hope to develop this program to become a staple in the Champaign area.

For tickets, contact the Orpheum Box Office at 217.352.5895. There is limit a 15 persons per session.

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