BUFFALO, N.Y. - The Town Ballroom has played host to some of the biggest names in music history. Sammy Davis Junior, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Bennett, you name it, they played there.
But another famous, or more appropriate, infamous character who played there frequently was apparently none other than Al Capone. It wasn't music he was playing, it was cards and other games of questionable legality.
During the prohibition era, The Town Ballroom was a speak-easy. There is still evidence of the secret meeting and gambling rooms in the basement. There is even a spot on the wall where the original stone wall had been filled in with cinder block. Many believe that it was an escape hatch tunnel out under Main Street. When the cops raided upstairs, the gangsters and gamblers scooted out the tunnel.
These days the stories surrounding the Town often revolve around the paranormal. Local expert Mason Winfield says the most often-told ghost stories are of a well-dressed African American man who lingers in the front lobby; a little girl spotted in various areas of the theatre; a dark figure in an old-west style hat that hangs around in the wings. They've nick-named him "The watchman"; then there is the visions of a lady in white theatre costumes.
So whether it's the underworld or the "other" world, the Town Ballroom is certainly legendary.