Every town has its folklore. Fort Wayne is no exception, and we’re celebrated for ghost stories. What else would you expect from a city that hosts an annual Fright Night and Zombie Walk? One famous spirit that may or may not haunt our downtown scene is affectionately called “The Embassy Ghost.”
Visitors need not beware – The Embassy Ghost is decidedly benevolent. Opinions vary wildly regarding his existence. Here’s what we know:
The Embassy ghost is the spirit of a man named Bud Berger. He lived and worked at Fort Wayne’s Embassy Theatre, 125 West Jefferson Boulevard, from 1936 until his death in 1965. History books and photos tell us that Bud was the Embassy’s stage manager and that he also managed the stagehands and performers. Executive Director Kelly Updike confirmed that this was Bud’s role.
“Bud was known to have managed the Embassy as well as several other theaters in the area. It’s my understanding that he loved the building and took impeccable care of it,” said Updike.
Updike will neither confirm nor deny the existence of the Embassy Ghost, but she does have some spectral stories to share. Updike and her staff have witnessed the unexplainable on several occasions during the eleven years that she has managed the Embassy. Read on to learn about some of their spookier moments at the office.
Photo by Steve Vorderman
The Embassy Theatre is famed for its fully restored 1928 Grande Page Pipe Organ. The organ was installed six years before Bud began working at the Embassy, and would have been used frequently for live performances and film showings during the 1930s and 1940s.
It’s still played every week and the organists have noticed a curious event that happens when they practice while the theater is unoccupied. One seat will descend as though a patron has taken a seat, but no one is there. After a few minutes, the seat returns to its upright position and a seat in a different part of the theater will move in the same way. This can continue for the duration of the organ rehearsal, with no worldly explanation.
Dream A Little Dream
A story involving a ghostly dream has been passed down from one of the Embassy’s previous directors. He reported being awakened during the night numerous times after dreaming of Bud Berger. At approximately 5 AM he gave up on sleep and went into work early. Much to the director's surprise, a pipe had burst in the building! He quickly had the water shut off and began cleanup before more extensive damage occurred. Could his dreams have been an effort by the Embassy Ghost to save the historic building?
No Cause for Alarm
Updike has a story of her own to share. One day an internal door alarm sounded, so Updike and staff went to the lower level of the building to investigate. They could find no cause for the alarm, which had come from one of the restrooms. The restroom is open to the public, but the Embassy was closed at the time of the incident. The group did, however, happen upon a curious situation. A sewage pump in the area was nearly broken, its motor on the verge of burnout. The staff had just enough time to correct the defect before it became a major problem (and it could have been a catastrophe if the motor had failed without warning)!
Are You a Believer?
Do you believe in the Embassy Ghost? Patrons who visit the Embassy for tours, shows, and private events often wonder if they’ll catch a glimpse of the famed phantom. Most reports of sightings and apparitions come from current and former staff, but if you have a ghost story we would love to hear it!
Comment below with your Embassy Ghost experience. And do visit Fort Wayne soon. Our city is a wonderful place where even the ghosts are friendly!