Santa Maria High School
Ethel Pope Auditorium
901 S. Broadway, Santa Maria, California 93454
On the corner of Broadway and Morrison Avenue in the town of Santa Maria on the Central Coast is Ethel Pope Auditorium which is part of the Santa Maria High School. Santa Maria High School was originally built in 1892 and rebuilt in 1920 to what the present day school is. The original school actually sat where the Ethel Pope Auditorium now resides. The school was further remodeled in 1971 after an earthquake when parts were condemned and demolished including a bell tower that was originally connected to the Ethel Pope Auditorium. The grand Ethel Pope Auditorium, for all its glitz and glamor, is sadly haunted, and has been for many many decades.
Which brings us to shortly after the new school and Auditorium were built in the early 1920s. A senior at the high school named Jeanette was very much into drama, and although she mostly got smaller roles, she held out hope and kept trying. Finally she landed the part of Juliet in Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. She practiced endlessly, making sure she had the part completely down, rehearsing her lines to perfection, and even designing and sewing her own costume.
When opening night came, Jeanette rode her bike to the auditorium. Somehow she ended up arriving late, just barely getting there in time to go on. She was perfect, performing every line and every scene exactly how it was suppose to be and received a standing ovation for it. After the show, she left immediately, disappearing before her co-stars could heap more praise upon her.
The next day, Jeanette's mother called the drama teacher at the school and in between tearful sobs, explained that Jeanette never made it to the auditorium or the show, because she had been hit by a car on her way there. She was thrown from her bicycle by a passing car and died on the scene, never having made it to the auditorium. The teacher, was, of course, mystified, for she had seen, in fact hundreds of people in the audience had seen, Jeanette perform the night before, after she had been declared dead as a result of the accident.
Another darker version of Jeanette's death is far more tragic. Instead of getting the part of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet she is once again relegated to a bit part. Having tried so hard, and yet still ultimately failing, Jeanette was despondent. Consumed with despair and having given up all hope, Jeanette went to the auditorium the night of the show, but not with plans to perform. She climbed up to the catwalks over the stage before the show began, and there fashioned a noose. Slipping it over her head, she jumped as the curtains began to open. Instead of the opening line "Two households, both alike in dignity", the audience was instead greeted by the hanging body of Jeanette!
But the story doesn't stop there. For several decades now, someone has been haunting the Auditorium. Jeanette has been seen by students and teachers alike, although many of the students refer to her as "Ethel" or "Ethel Pope" due to the name of the auditorium. Jeanette has been seen up in the balcony watching rehearsals, moving along the catwalks, hanging out in the dressing rooms, and even crossing across the stage.
Despite death, Jeanette's show still goes on . . .
Across the street is the historic Santa Maria Inn which plays host to multiple ghosts and spiritual activity!
- vicky of guadalupe, ca on 2015-10-27 said:
- Having worked at SMHS for 30 years, there has been strange happenings in the Ethel Pope Auditorium over the years. From noise in the balcony, curtains moving when no one was there. The Basement where the performers change, lights flickering, face in the mirror of a person who was not there....
- Pat Stappart Hudak of Pullman, WA on 2015-07-31 said:
- I seem to recall a similar or same story a few years ago. In my 4 years as SMUHS in 1949-1953 nobody ever mentioned her. I think it is fiction.
Last Edited: 2014-10-22