Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Mysterious trunk found in the Rex Theatre - Curwensville




When Howard Thompson took over The Rex Theatre (formerly known as The Strand) in Curwensville, he probably could never have imagined what would be found on the site just a short while later. William Irwin and Adam Dilliorenti began doing renovations for Mr. Thompson in July, 1935. When the two began excavating the cellar, they discovered a dusty old wooden trunk hidden in the foundation. Of course they were curious as to what was inside, and who wouldn't be? When Irwin and Dilliorenti pried the peculiar crate open, they were quite shocked to find a jaw bone with human teeth grinning back at them... and an assortment of other bones broken into pieces, some charred. This caused great excitement in town. Before the box and its contents were hustled away by investigators, many people caught a glimpse of the creepy mandible and soon everyone was speculating who might have hidden the bones in the old building... and why? 

The last anyone could remember Dr. Hiram Orville King had purchased the lot about 1890, and constructed a home for his family there. The physician built an office for his medical practice in between his residence and the next building a short while after. Down the road he sold just the office building and lot to William Pratt who ran a barber shop at the location. In 1920 Pratt sold the lot to Fred and Francis Thompson, taking the building along with him to a different lot in town but leaving the foundation behind. The Thompson's built The Strand Theatre and eventually  it changed hands and was sold to the Clearfield National Bank. During that ownership it was ran by managers Gribble & Natopoulas who also managed a Theatre in Clymer. In 1933 Mr. Gribble & Mr. Natopoulas updated and installed the photophone and sound equipment, which cost a fortune. The building caught fire not too long after and the contents were destroyed. The lot was unoccupied for awhile until Howard Thomspon bought it with the intention of renovating and re opening the Theater. There had been other managers and such... 

The rumor mill was flooded with talk of people who had disappeared over the years, such as the young Caldwell boy from Rockton who was never found. More importantly, everyone wanted to know who actually buried the person inside the rustic box, concealing it in the cellar walls to keep their secret. Could someone have committed murder? Could the Doctor have ran an undercover operation providing illegal surgeries and made a mistake? It was just crazy to think that all this time no one had known anything about it. Of course when the short investigation was concluded, it was determined that there may or may have not been a cemetery on the plot of land, & in the event that there was, the coffins must have been moved years ago but one was left behind. There was no record of any graveyards or family burial sites there, but what else could be the case? People in town didn't really buy it, but eventually the gossip channel moved on to the next thing and the mysterious trunk and disturbing cargo were forgotten. 

News Articles from The Progress 1940's - 1970's