Now Arriving: Historic (and Haunted?) Downtowns

Features and Profiles
October 15, 2021 / By / Post a Comment

Along the 21-mile A-train commuter rail line, you can visit three prominent downtowns, each rich with history and some of the oldest buildings still standing in North Texas. The downtown squares and main streets of Denton, Lewisville and Carrollton may be popular spots for dining and shopping; but, by diving into their pasts, you’ll discover tales that continue to … creep up. And what better way to celebrate Halloween than at an event in one of these spooky locations?

The Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square in Downtown Denton

Denton’s downtown is full of places with ghostly pasts, including the Denton Opera House and the Campus Theatre, but no place has as much history and tragedy as the Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square. In the late 1800s, more than a dozen fires occurred on the Square, burning down entire rows of buildings. The present-day Courthouse is the third one to ever occupy Downtown Denton. The first burned down in 1875, and the second was demolished in 1894 after being struck by lightning.

Construction of the Courthouse-on-the-Square was completed in 1896 and included a basement for holding cells, which now houses a museum. Over the years, several deaths occurred in the building; and, after the basement was renovated, some visitors witnessed strange events, especially at nighttime. You can enter the museum for free on weekdays between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. and on Saturdays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. If you’d like to tour the museum at night, the Denton County Office of History and Culture is hosting a free event, Night at the Courthouse Museum, on Thursday, October 23 from 6 to 8 p.m.

Outside, on the Courthouse lawn, you can visit the grave of John B. Denton, after whom the city is named. Denton died in battle in 1841; and, in 1901, a grave believed to be Denton’s was moved to the present location. The remains, which were previously found in 1856 by a group of boys, could only be identified by the blanket that contained them, a broken gun and some gold teeth.

The Denton County Courthouse-on-the-Square is located at 110 W. Hickory Street, just a few blocks from the Downtown Denton Transit Center. The Courthouse is the centerpiece of the town square and is surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars.

The Greater Lewisville Community Theatre in Old Town Lewisville

Lewisville’s most historic buildings are in Old Town, and one is so well known for paranormal activity that ghost enthusiasts flock to it. Over the past 135 years, what is now the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre has been used for many purposes, including a movie house and a church; but, originally, it was the Cobb’s Dry Goods Store. The Cobb Family was known in the area for their musical talent and would often entertain guests, which is much in the spirit of the theatre today.

In 2009, an investigator of paranormal activity visited the theatre and detected energy footprints with an electromagnetic field radiation meter. Since then, the theatre has been evaluated by a psychic medium, who claimed to have spoken with members of the Cobb Family. The theater is also a central point for ghost tours.

The Greater Lewisville Community Theatre is located at 160 W. Main Street, a half mile from Old Town Station. The theatre is not currently open to the public, but tickets for 2022 shows go on sale in November. Until then, visit the outside of the theatre and possibly interact with its friendly occupants by joining a local ghost tour.

Ghost tour participants using dowsing rods at the Greater Lewisville Community Theatre. The rods have been said to move when participants ask questions in areas with paranormal activity. Photo courtesy of Gateway Ghost Tours.

The Square in Historical Downtown Carrollton

Given the past of the Square in Historic Downtown Carrollton, some business owners have stories of unexplainable occurrences. Located on the west side of the Square, 1104 S. Elm Street was once the Rhoton Dry Goods and Undertaking Company. In the 1920s, it became the town’s first complete mortuary facility and the morgue remained on the Square until the 1950s. Today, visitors have said to witness startling activities at and nearby the location and even captured events on video.

On Saturday, October 30, the City of Carrollton is hosting a free Halloween event from 4 to 7 p.m. called Ghost Town. It features carnival games and a costume contest, along with a free Halloween-themed movie.

To get to the Square, take the A-train to the Trinity Mills Station. From there, you can take a four-minute DART ride to the Downtown Carrollton Station.

Do you have any spooky stories after visiting one of these places? Let us know if the comments section below!

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