SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — The Shrine Mosque turns 100 years old this year and with its rich history of legendary acts and performers, it has brought millions of people from all over through its doors. However, according to some people, there are some guests that have never left … even after death. Frightly News Investigates looks at the haunted history of the Shrine Mosque.
100 years of the Shrine Mosque
Constructed by the Abou Ben Adhem Temple, the Shrine Mosque’s story began on November 3, 1923. It is located at the intersection of Kimbrough and St. Louis at 601 E St Louis St.
The architects responsible for its design were Heckenlively and Mark, and the stunning stained glass windows were created by Stanley Uthwatt.
According to the Shrine’s website, the fraternal organization the Abou Ben Adhem Shriners—”Abou Ben Adhem” translated from Arabic means “May His Tribe Increase!”— had their first meeting on October 15, 1903. The members consisted of the Knights Templar and Scottish Rite fraternal organizations.
In 1906, the Mason Lodge located on East Walnut—currently Hotel Vandivort— voted to construct the auditorium as a headquarters for the Shriners. It cost $600,000 in 1920, which was equivalent to about $7.3 million in 2014.
Although shaped like a mosque it isn’t a real one. The members do not follow the tenets of Islam, but reportedly there have been Muslims who have mistakenly visited the Mosque.
At the time the venue was known as the largest auditorium west of the Mississippi and was the second largest stage behind the New York Metropolitan Opera Theater.
Apart from its role as a shrine, the Mosque has played a significant role as a cultural hub. The auditorium can seat 3,200 people and the lower level event area can hold 1,300. It has hosted community events like telethons, dances, concerts, and even Presidential visits. World-class performers have graced the stage such as Vienna Singers, the Blue Collar Comedy Tour, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, circuses, and Elvis Presley.
Here’s a behind the curtain tour of the Shrine Mosque:
Is the Shrine Mosque haunted?
“You’ll meet some people that will tell you they’ve heard things and seen things,” said Shrine event booker Steve Mason. “I’ve been up here a lot by myself at night, you know, closing up after a concert or whatever. I’ve never seen anything here or really heard anything. But there are some guys I know that, you know, I would believe every word they say. They’re a masonic brother and they have had some weird experiences.”
Mason said he has heard stories of people seeing a child and an old man, possibly a janitor, roaming the hallways.
“There was a guy … working here for the Route 66, he was on stage finishing some stuff up and hears the paint sprayer kick on and stop. So he goes up there and it’s turned on … he’d been there all day and had never heard it before. Just out of the blue, somehow [it] switched on,” said Mason.
Other reports of ghostly activity include loud hammering, motion-detecting lights going off for no reason, and one woman claiming she was hit in the back.
“The girl said it felt like someone slapped her in the back up there and she pulled her shirt up and she had like a … looked like a handprint right in the middle of her back,” said Mason.
Regardless of these stories, Mason said he has never experienced anything paranormal at the Shrine.
OzarksFirst and the Southwest Ghost Finders (SWGF) teamed up to conduct an investigation of the shrine. You can find the video at the top of the article.
During the night, SWGF members split up into two groups. One group surveyed the auditorium and the surrounding areas, while the other stayed on the lower level near the kitchen.
The auditorium group said they kept seeing what looked like movement in the upper balcony areas but were not able to get any readings on their tools all night.
The lower-level group did manage to observe and record Electro Magnetic Field detectors going off from one end of the room to the other—almost like ping-ponging back and forth.
A bathroom light was seen turning off and on during an interview with Mason and a motion-detecting device went off by itself at the end of the night.
In a previous investigation, SWGF investigators found a faucet in the kitchen was running despite all members being in a completely different area of the building. They also heard the clanging of glass in one of the bars as if someone was washing dishes. When they tried to communicate with a spirit at the bar with OzarksFirst, one member claimed she felt cold goosebumps and that someone had touched her.