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Denver Ghosts and Haunted Buildings: Downtown

Updated on September 13, 2013
Downtown Denver buildings are haunted by the ghosts of miners, employees and spurned lovers.
Downtown Denver buildings are haunted by the ghosts of miners, employees and spurned lovers. | Source

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Denver was founded by miners, scoundrels, and other such characters. It is small wonder, then, that in a century-and-a-half of existence Denver has acquired some notable ghosts and haunted buildings.

Haunted Places in Downtown Denver

As the hub of the gold rush that brought miners, con-artists, ladies of the night, and the odd respectable family to Denver in 1858, downtown Denver hosts a number of ghosts in its historic buildings. At The Brown Palace, employees don't give up even after death – nor does a heart-broken socialite; a murdered woman and a postal worker still enact their tragedies at the Oxford Hotel; a hobo and a soldier walk the platforms while a young girl haunts the clock tower at Union Station; and spurned lovers on either side of the sheets appear at Mattie Silk's House of Mirrors.

The premier hotel is still haunted by long-dead employees.
The premier hotel is still haunted by long-dead employees. | Source

The Brown Palace

One of Denver's most luxurious hotels is actually one of its haunted locations. The Brown Palace Hotel, Denver's second-oldest hotel, hosts a number of spirits in its hallways and even its rooms. While they advertise that every U.S, president since Teddy Roosevelt (1905) has visited The Brown Palace (minus Calvin Coolidge, the party pooper), there is no evidence that any of these men are still visiting the historic hotel. Rather a train conductor puts The Brown Palace on the list of haunted hotels. Legend has it an employee was closing up the airline ticket office when he saw a man dressed in an old-fashioned train conductor's uniform. Before the employee could ask if the man was lost from a costume party, the train conductor disappeared through the wall. The shaken employee later discovered the airline ticket office had one stood as the site of the railroad ticket office.

Other ghostly employees who cannot seem to let the job go, besides a ghostly waiter who rides the service elevator up and down, comes in the form of a string quartet. The San Marco Room, still the hotel's main dining room under the name Ellyngton's, once hosted scores of guests listening to the swing music of the San Marco Strings. Another, live, employee, long after the dining room had closed, heard the unmistakable sound of string instruments practicing in what should be a deserted room. He walked in and discovered the string quartet in full formal dress calmly practicing. When he pointed out that they weren't supposed to be in there, one of them replied, "Oh, don't worry about us. We live here."

Naturally, The Brown Palace has seen its share of heartache. From 1940 to 1955 a Denver socialite named Louise Crawford Hill occupied room 904 (add the numbers, Stephen King fans). Before taking up residence there, she carried on a scandalous affair with a man tend years younger than herself; unfortunately he left her for a woman ten years young than him. Heartbroken, Mrs. Crawford Hill moved to room 904 and lived her remaining years as a recluse. Later, when visitors took tours of the building, they inevitably remarked on the discomfort of room 904; helpful tour guides told Mrs. Crawford Hill's sad story. Perhaps they stirred up memories because after that the central telephone operator started reporting phone calls with nothing but static from room 904. At that time, there were no phone lines connected to room 904.

A Brown Palace Murder

The spooky Oxford Hotel.
The spooky Oxford Hotel. | Source

The Oxford Hotel

Located on the corners of 17th and Wazee Streets another of Denver's most haunted hotels comes in the form of an Art Deco building, Denver's oldest hotel, The Oxford. A leading architect at the time, Frank Edbrooke, designed the Oxford Hotel, which opened its doors in 1891. Back then, rooms cost just $1 -- $2 if you wanted a bath. This must have been a remarkable convenience for weary travelers arriving at nearby Union Station.

The Cruise Room, now a popular martini bar, was built to resemble one of the lounges on the Queen Mary when the Oxford Hotel went through renovation in the early 1930s. Its newly earned reputation as a LoDo hotspot hasn't stopped one of its original patrons from taking a seat at the bar. One night a bartender served a man who wore what appeared to be an old-fashioned post office uniform. Perhaps thinking the man was just taking retro fashion to the extreme, he served the man his beer, ignoring his remark that the beer was expensive, and went about the business of serving other customers. The bartender and fellow patrons alike noticed that the man was drinking his beer – notable since most other people swirled colorful liqueur in martini glasses. They also noticed him since he was muttering to himself about "the children." At one point he distinctly said, "I have to get the gifts to the children." Muttering drinkers are nothing new to a bartender, so he paid the postal worker little mind – that is, until the man left and he went to pick up the empty beer bottle, which was still completely full. The bartender later learned that a postal worker, a regular at the Oxford Hotel, had been delivering Christmas gifts to nearby Central City in the early 1900s. The postal worker never arrived, and most people assumed he had absconded with the gifts. The postal worker's reputation, if not his life, was returned when his decomposing body was discovered on a mountain trail. The children's Christmas gifts were still with him.

Just like The Brown Palace, the Oxford Hotel has a haunted room: 320. In this room a young woman was caught by in flagrante delicto by her husband with another man. Enraged, he murdered her in her bed, a bed with the engraved blessing, " Come Gentle Dreams the Hours of Sleep Beguile." Now a distinct presence is felt in Room 320, one that is particularly hostile to men sleeping alone in that room.

The former brothel still hosts ghosts.
The former brothel still hosts ghosts. | Source

Mattie Silks House of Mirrors

Hotels are not the only haunted places in Denver. And speaking of girls with loose morals, Mattie Silks House of Mirrors was once Denver's premier brothel. Madam Jennie Rogers opened the House of Mirrors in 1898. Built in Denver's Red Light District of the time, 20th and Market Streets, the front parlor of the House of Mirrors features a huge crystal chandelier and, of course, the mirrors from which it gets its name: floor to ceiling mirrors on all sides. Mattie Silks, another famous madam, bought the House of Mirrors after Rogers' death in 1911.

Even more so than at The Brown Palace and the Oxford Hotel, this bordello saw its share of heartbreak. During his ghost walking tour, Denver historian Kevin Rucker tells a story of doomed love. One of the working girls had a regular patron, and they fell in love. Desperate to get out of the life in a bordello, she begged him to leave his wife and take her away from the House of Mirrors. Finally, the fellow promised to do so, swearing he would tell his wife that very night and return for the hopeful lady of the night. Unfortunately he fell ill and could not return until morning. The distraught prostitute, sure her fellow had lied to her hanged herself in her room. Now the light in that room is seen brightening and dimming, perhaps like her hopes did that night.

However, the only recorded death at the House of Mirrors was, indeed, committed by a working girl, but one who mourned the loss of her own marriage. Ms. Ella Wellington left her husband and children in Boston so that she could work at a "resort." In truth, she ended up working at the House of Mirrors. Depressed, she committed suicide by shooting herself in the head with a 32 revolver. One of the other girls found her, but she was already dead. These days, passerby on street level may look up to the top floor when the ladies slept and see a flickering light on the left-hand side when no one should be upstairs. Some have even reported seeing a restless lady pacing on the second floor, again in the left-hand window and again when no one should be around.

Union Station
Union Station | Source

Union Station

At one time, Union Station was the busiest railway station in the West. It connected Denver to Cheyenne, and it also served as a station for all four railroad connections at the time.

Of course, such a busy hub drew in all sorts. One was a three-fingered hobo. Perhaps he lost his fingers jumping the rail. He spent a large portion of his life in Union Station, and now he appears to be spending his death there. He can be spotted following passengers getting on and off the trains. He waits on the platforms at all times of the night. He has even been know to bother the ticket agent. Probably he couldn't do so in life.

Another spirit that seems to have taken up residence in Union Station is that of a little girl. She resides in the clock tower. In 2000, a maintenance worker went up into the tower to adjust the clock for daylight savings time. A few minutes after he had disappeared up the clock tower, he came running back out. His face was white, and his hands were visibly shaking. He told passengers waiting for the evening train that he had seen a young girl walking around inside the tunnel. She looked deathly pale – more so than him – and she was dressed in old-fashioned clothing. 1800s-style clothing. The original structure of Union Station burned down in 1894. Had the little girl been a victim of the fire? Or had she been a passenger who expired on the train station premises? Either way, legend has it she is still wandering the station, perhaps waiting for her train to depart.

In its time, Union Station saw its share of soldiers go through. Modern transportation has replaced the train as a means of transporting troops. However, one soldier seems not to have gotten this message. Passengers have remarked on a militaristic energy in an otherwise civilian train station. A few late-night travelers have even claimed to see a soldier up on the Mezzanine level of the station. He just passes back and forth along the balcony until he quietly vanishes.

LoDo -- Downtown Denver

show route and directions
A marker321 17th St, Denver, CO -
1600 17th St Denver, CO 80202
get directions

The Brown Palace

B marker1701 Wynkoop, Denver, CO -
1701 Wynkoop Street, Denver, CO 80202, USA
get directions

Union Station

C marker1600 17th St Denver, CO 80202 -
1600 17th Street, Denver, CO 80202, USA
get directions

The Oxford Hotel

D marker2009 Market Street, Denver, CO -
2009 Market Street, Denver, CO 80205, USA
get directions

Mattie Silks House of Mirrors

Denver's Haunted Buildings

Location
Ghost
The Brown Palace
train conductor
The Brown Palace
string quartet
The Brown Palace
Louise Crawford Hill
The Oxford Hotel
post office worker
The Oxford Hotel
murdered unfaithful wife
Mattie Silks House of Mirrors
spurned lady of the night
Mattie Silks House of Mirrors
depressed lady of the night
Union Station
3-fingered hobo
Union Station
little girl in the clock tower
Union Station
soldier

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    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Well, Denver's a relative newbie, only 150 years old. But we were founded by scoundrels and ladies of the evening, so that adds a bit of fillip to the mix! Thanks for stopping by.

    • Cyndi10 profile image

      Cynthia B Turner 3 years ago from Georgia

      Hmmm. It seems Denver has its share of otherworldly inhabitants sharing the city along with the rest of you. The older and more notorious the city, the more likely it is to have lingering citizens. Is it the result of over-active imaginations or is it the real thing? It's always fun to read about a city's hauntings. And you have a Zombie Crawl! Now that adds spice to the mix. Thanks for introducing us to your city's ghostly dwellers!

    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 3 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      It's a cool way to see some historical buildings in downtown Denver. Thanks for stopping by!

    • mtpocketts profile image

      mtpocketts 3 years ago

      Fascinating information, if I ever make a trip out to Denver I will definitely consult this Hub again. I love a good ghost story!

    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      I saw/felt something at Mattie Silks. It's pretty creepy! Thanks for stopping by!

    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      FlourishAnyway, Denver is a great city! If you're in Denver around Halloween, you might even make the Zombie Crawl!

    • amandajoyshapiro profile image

      amandajoyshapiro 4 years ago

      Very creepy and sounds like fun! It would be cool to catch a glimpse of these spirits. Have you ever seen them for yourself?

    • nArchuleta profile image
      Author

      Nadia Archuleta 4 years ago from Denver, Colorado

      Denver's a great city. I hope you had fun -- thanks for stopping by!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 4 years ago from Chicago Area

      I've been to Denver, but wasn't there long enough to check out the attractions. I'll have to remember these for the next time. Voted up & interesting!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 years ago from USA

      I loved this for the detail into the ghost stories and the variety. Makes me want to go to Denver just to check out the places. Especially around Halloween, I imagine this should be a very popular read. Voted up, interesting, and sharing.