Inspired by their eerie and possibly haunted nature, the Stanly couple marry at Albemarle’s former opera house – The Stanly News & Press

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When most people think about their dream wedding, it usually involves getting married in a church, hotel, or even a banquet hall. Some even envision exotic destinations like a white sand beach in the Caribbean.

But for a Stanly County couple, their ideal location was quite different – and much more spooky and even ghoulish.

After dating for almost a year, Madeline Hana, 27, and Adam Barringer, 38, offered several wedding options, including going to Vegas and getting married in a salt cave in Asheville, before moving on to the interior of some kind of abandoned building. , maybe even a church.

The couple quickly settled in a location known to many in Stanly as supposedly haunted: the vacant former opera house above Starnes Jewelers in downtown Albemarle.

The wedding took place on Friday afternoon, followed by a reception at Tiffany’s At The Boardroom.

“I’ve known Opera my whole life,” Hana told SNAP before the wedding, noting that she had visited the venue several times over the years through her work with the Uwharrie Players and in various settings. photo shoots. “So I knew it was accessible. “

As a grown actress, Hana appreciated that the space had a functional stage and good natural lighting. The potential presence of supernatural beings was also a plus.

“We’re big, eccentric people in general,” she said. “We love everything artistic and creative and we kind of treat this whole wedding as an art project.”

Save a life

Although they both grew up in Stanly County, Hana and Barringer first met on Halloween in 2019 while they were both working at Little Tokyo in Albemarle.

Meanwhile, Hana, who was married, suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts as she had been sexually abused in previous relationships, but not with her husband. Looking back, Hana said that she and her former husband would have been better off just as friends.

“For a very long time, I lived my life based on what others thought was best for me and not what made me happy or what I wanted,” she said. “Just a lot of not loving me and living for myself.”

Hana and Barringer saw each other on and off for several months as a friendship began to develop.

“I liked his personality,” he said. “She was funny, sarcastic and I liked the playfulness.”

He remembers the first time he started developing romantic feelings for Hana, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic. She played the ukulele and performed with her band Almost Exes at an acoustic party in Little Tokyo.

“I got to see her past who she was, something deeper and more meaningful,” he recalls. “And this is the first time that I really thought that this could be someone that I could create a life with.”

Hana, who admits she has long been attracted to Barringer, quickly divorced her husband and started dating Barringer last November.

As someone with a history of trauma and depression, Hana said once she started dating Barringer everything changed. She stopped taking antidepressants, lost weight, and learned to love life again.

“When I first met him he basically reminded me of the fire I had inside me,” she said. “This marriage is not just a celebration of love, but a celebration of life.”

She readily admits that Barringer saved her life. She hopes her story can help encourage other struggling people to find the light, even in the darkest of situations.

“There is magic to be hoped for,” she said, fighting back tears.

Choosing a wedding venue

After they dated for a while, Barringer bought a ring, although he never knew when to propose. He had held the ring for many months, but the right time never presented itself.

“I’m a bit of a perfectionist and I want everything to be perfect and so, I’m going to sit on things until I create what I really want to happen,” he said, noting that he had already spoken to his family and friends about his intention to propose.

Finally, at a night out in Charlotte, Hana brought up the subject of engagement and Barringer, after a few drinks, let it slip that he had a ring for her. The two then began planning the wedding, although no formal engagement had taken place.

About a month later, they went to Asheville to study the possibility of getting married in a salt cave. Barringer brought the ring with him, still trying to find the perfect time to propose.

While having lunch at Crave Dessert Bar, Barringer finally made his entrance, having a waiter place the ring on Hana’s lime pie, which was his favorite dessert. He then proposed, amid the fanfare of other restaurant customers, some of whom even bought them champagne.

“I had a hunch he was probably going to do it because I knew he just wanted to be done with it,” she said.

The couple joked that the organization of a post-wedding proposal had already been largely planned based on their “weird” personalities.

At the restaurant, they decided to remove the salt caves and get married in a different setting. Barringer started looking at pictures on his phone when he came across an old abandoned church, which intrigued him. Hana then brought up the idea of ​​getting married at the Opera.

“The weird, haunted mythical vibe is definitely something we’ve been looking for,” she said. “We like to create a bit of magic.

Barringer had actually never heard of the Opera until Hana mentioned it. But once he visited, he just clicked.

“The way the natural light entered the building and its age and with the cobwebs and dust, I felt like the vibe I was looking for,” he said.

As self-proclaimed old souls, Hana and Barringer are fans of the early 20th century, especially the 1920s, and the Opera House – which has been around for over 100 years – therefore made sense.

“It was a perfect fit for what we wanted to do,” Barringer said.

Wanting to get married in an abandoned building, Hana and Barringer chose the vacant Opera House. Photo courtesy of Madeline Hana.

Is the Opera really haunted?

Having known Gene Starnes, owner of Starnes Jewelers, for many years – he was a regular when she worked at GloryBeans CoffeeHouse and he was always a supporter of the Uwharrie Players, Hana contacted him a few weeks after the trip to Asheville, inquiring about using the space on the second floor for her wedding. They told him that only a dozen people would be present.

Although initially surprised, Starnes agreed. (The space is not open to the public, although special events may take place if approved.)

It was the first time anyone had contacted him to get married in space.

“I was just surprised,” Starnes said of the request. “I said, ‘Well, we don’t have electricity up there and it’s not cleaned up and it’s not in good condition,’ and they said, ‘Well, it’s okay. . This is how we want it. We want it rustic and in an unusual place. ‘ “

Although first opened in 1898, Starnes Jewelers moved to its current location around 1908. An opera house was located on the second floor of the building and hosted hundreds of lectures, covers, theatrical productions, musical performances and several early films. cinematographic, according to information from the Stanly County Historical Society website.

Largely abandoned as a performance hall upon the completion of the Alameda Theater in 1916, the Opera House was used by PJ Huneycutt to store his coffins and coffins during the Spanish Flu of 1917-1918. The space had been used for other purposes over the following decades, most notably as a dance hall, but remained vacant for many years.

The Opera has existed since the beginning of the 20th century. Photo courtesy of the Stanly County Historical Society.

While Starnes said he was not aware of anyone who died in space or any corpses kept there, the Opera House nonetheless became a source of morbid fascination for many in the county and was a starring location. for many tours of local ghosts and paranormal investigators.

Starnes said that over the years he had encountered many ghosts at the Opera House, although they were all friendly, including a man in a brown suit and brown hat and a woman in a flowing white dress. He also heard voices and music sometimes playing on the second floor. A visiting paranormal group once told Starnes that the likely reason was that spirits were allowed to leave the skies to revisit some of their favorite places, including the Opera House.

“I’m not a big believer in that sort of thing,” he said of the supernatural, “but it made me a believer.”

After Hana and Barringer informed their family and friends about their plans, they were asked if the Opera House had been renovated and repaired.

“We were like no, it’s pretty much the same, very abandoned,” Barringer said.

Like Starnes, they both believe there are ghosts residing at the Opera House and they told SNAP that they hope the spirits make their presence felt during the wedding.

“I hope one of them will come and say hello to us while we’re at it,” Hana said.

In a brief follow-up interview on Monday morning, Barringer said the wedding was “everything I could imagine,” although he didn’t pay much attention to the presence of spirits.

“I was so focused on the ceremony itself, but it was very magical and it was everything we could have wished for,” he added.

The couple had a “mini moon” at Myrtle Beach this weekend and plan to travel to New Orleans in the spring.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with SNAP since January 2019. He graduated from the State of North Carolina and received his Masters in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national newspapers via the AP wire.

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