Haunts & Jaunts: Triska Opera House Investigation

The Triska Opera House Investigation…and then some!

The first floor antique shop of the Triska Opera House. *Photos by Rick Hinton

  When Dave Triska purchased the building in Rossville, Ill. for a potential business, it turned into something else. It would seem the paranormal ramifications outweighed any business aspirations. The paranormal became the business! And the groups came.

   Dave had an interest in ghost hunting since his childhood, along with a love of antique hunting—a  gift from his parents. He’d heard the stories of Rossville and the building. He didn’t go in blind. He lived in Lafayette, Ind. when the the former opera house/ Masonic lodge came up for sale. He bought it: a quick trip west. “It had to be beautiful in its day. Just beautiful,” he stated. “ This is an amazing building. The history behind it it is phenomenal! There’s not a whole lot left of the opera house—that’s what’s sad.” What else sad was so much ‘junk’ in the building, taking him nine months to clear it all out. He started his antique shop on the first floor, however, the remaining upper two floors had other things in mind.

Chatting with owner Dave Triska. Rear-Laura Hinton, Front-Dawn and Judy.

   The former Ford dealership, and various other businesses, became a place of mysteries. David, intrigued, wanted to learn more. Paranormal groups came and went. My group, South Central Paranormal, did an investigation in 2014. It rocked our world!

   Audio EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon)  recordings have a certain ranking: a Class A being the most desirable. Class A’s are clear, concise, leaving no doubt that something out of the ordinary has occurred. Class B and C are more murkier, leaving room for a boatload of doubt. Any paranormal investigator worth their salt will position many recorders about a location. We certainly did.

   Dave Triska was very cordial and personable. I liked him immediately. He showed us where the opera house stage had once been, now more or less a storage area. He turned us loose. I was anxious to get up to the third floor—the former Masonic Lodge. Don’t know why, but former Masonic areas are always a beehive of activity. That’s has been my experience. And, it didn’t disappoint… 

The 3rd floor former Masonic Lodge auditorium. The right rear alcove is where Laura got her Class A EVP recording.

   Hours passed. We were tired. Not a lot happening. The entire team was in the auditorium of the former Masonic meeting area, stumbling about in the dark. My wife Laura, Judy and I, were off to the side, sitting in chairs just outside the “initiation” changing room. Laura was recording live (listening in headphones). Judy was going on about how she didn’t feel right…that this wasn’t like her. I made the comment, “Oh Judy, you’re just a scared y cat.” Judy agreed. At this moment two things happened simultaneously: investigator Kelly bumped into a desk in the dark. And a Class A voice made a direct reply to what I feel was Judy’s comment, by uttering the expletive “P###y!” Laura, listening live, bolted out of her chair, ripped off the headphones, and exclaimed, “Jesus Christ!” The voice, I feel, was that of a crotchety old man who’d just had his space invaded. Former Masonic Lodge? Yes it made sense. 

   A recorder, placed 50 feet away, picked up the same exchange. We replayed the recording for the team, then to an excited Dave Triska. “See…I told you!” he said. We had a lot to think about on the drive home.

   David Triska passed away in March of 2016. He was buried in Lafayette, Ind. I don’t know what happened to the building he grew to love, investing a large amount of blood, sweat and tears. It essentially became his Baby. I don’t anticipate a return visit. I’d like to think that, while his mortal remains are confined in a cemetery in Lafayette, his soul resides in the former opera house in Rossville, Ill. It gives me a degree of comfort.