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Haunted Brown Palace Hotel
For more than a
Brown Palace Hotel has been setting the standard for luxurious
Not only is it a place steeped in history while modernized for today's
travelers, it is also said to play host to several other era spirits.
Opened in 1892 by Henry Cordes Brown, the hotel has never closed, not even
for a day, though it has undergone numerous renovations throughout the
Brown originally left
his Ohio home in 1860, planning on striking it rich in
However, as his family passed through
his wife liked it so much, she reportedly said to him,
"Mr. Brown, thou may press on to
if such be thy wish. I shall remain here."
Photo courtesy The Brown Palace Hotel
their home, the Browns soon homesteaded 160 acres on what would later
become known as Capitol Hill. A shrewd businessman, Brown
developed the acreage into the most influential neighborhood in the
city, where the wealthy began to build palatial brownstone mansions up
and down Grant and Sherman Streets.
Henry made a fortune
from his real estate development; however the economic panic of 1877
nearly destroyed him. He was forced to sell his palatial estate
Tabor for $50,000, but the enterprising Brown soon recovered his
fortune and by 1880 was worth nearly five million dollars, making him
one of the wealthiest men in
When the Windsor
Hotel, one of
Denver's most elegant at the time, would not let Brown enter
because he was dressed in cowboy attire, Brown decided to build his
own hotel, and in the process, outdo the Windsor.
In 1888, he retained
architect Frank E. Edbrooke to design a new hotel,
the likes of which
had never before been seen in
At a cost of an unprecedented $1.6 million, the luxury hotel was built
in the Italian Renaissance style on a triangular lot at the
intersection of 17th and Broadway. The exterior was
Colorado red granite and
sandstone, complete with 26 hand-carved stone medallions, each
depicting a native Rocky Mountain animal. Made by James
Whitehouse, the carvings can still be seen
between the seventh
floor windows on the hotel's exterior.
Inside, the hotel featured the nationís first atrium lobby with
balconies rising eight floors above the ground. White onyx and
marble was imported for the lobby, the Grand Salon and the eighth
floor ballroom and some $400,000 was spent in the fine furnishings
that graced the hotel.
On August 12, 1892, the hotel opened to the awed socialites of
who were stunned by the iron grillwork panels, volume of onyx and
marble, stained-glass ceiling at the top of the eight-story atrium,
the fine furnishings and numerous amenities.
Serving only the very
initially provided meat, vegetables and cream from its own farms.
It generated its own electricity, had its own incineration system for
garbage, and its own artesian well to provide water.
During the hotelís early days it is said that a tunnel once connected the
with the Navarre building across the street, a gambling den and brothel at
in 1896, courtesy Denver Public Library
Over the years, the
fabulous hotel has seen hundreds of celebrity guests, from Presidents to
Rock Stars, and has a wealth of stories ranging from Prohibition raids, to
bulls having been displayed in its lobby, to the birth of the
Broncos, to --- you got it Ė ghosts!
legend is that of a
who once lived in room 904 from 1940 to 1955. Later, when the
hotel began to offer tours, the story of her life and heartbreak over a
lost love were told to the visitors. Strangely, the switchboard
suddenly began to receive calls from room 904. But this was
impossible, as at the time, the room was undergoing renovation and
had no furnishings, lights, carpet, or telephone lines. Before long,
the story was eliminated from the tour and the telephone calls from room
904 stopped coming.
hotelís dining room, called Ellyngtonís today, was once known as the San
Marco Room, where big bands played, and later the San Marco Strings
entertained the hotelís guests. One night after an employee heard
strange sounds coming from the room, he walked in to find a formally
dressed string quartet practicing their music. Stunned, he said to
the musicians, "Youíre not supposed to be in here,Ē only to hear
their nonchalant reply,
"Oh, don't worry about us. We live here."
employee encountered the apparition of a man dressed in an old-fashioned
train conductorís uniform. Appearing for just a moment, he then
disappeared through the wall. The spirit was seen at the current
location of the airline ticket office, which once housed the railroad
Other reports include the frequent sighting of a uniformed waiter who is
spied in the service elevator, cheerful children who are known to gallop
in the hallways, and a babyís cries often heard in the boiler room.
Today, while the
Hotel may be
dwarfed by the surrounding modern skyscrapers, its reputation is no less
grand than it was over a century ago.
of America, © October, 2005
The Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th St.
303-297-3111 or 800-321-2599
Brown Palace Hotel
in 1892, courtesy Denver
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