Once the home of lumber baron John Mouat in the late
1800’s, this former mansion now serves as an elegant bed and breakfast and
event location in the historic Potter-Highlands neighborhood. Not only
does it cater to the new traveling public; it is also said to host some
lingering spirits who refuse to move on.
The mansion was built in 1890 by John Mouat, a Scottish
immigrant who had amassed a fortune in lumber. Between 1889 and 1892, the
Mouat Lumber company built over 200 buildings in Denver, helping to
transfer the town from a mining camp to the glittering city that it would
become. Built along Cherry Creek, overlooking the rowdy mining camp below,
Mourat built the "best” building for himself, his wife and five children.
Lumber Baron Inn,
courtesy Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens
his finest "wares” in the 8,500 square foot mansion, each room
featured a different type of wood varying from oak to cherry to
sycamore, maple and more. With an eye for detail, every fire place
mantle included distinct carvings and fine details. Wood in the dining
room included numerous carved rosettes representing the varied species
of trees used in the guest rooms, each which had its own private bath
and a phone. The third floor, which the Mouat’s utilized to host
lavish parties, featured a 20 foot pyramid ceiling and a shining maple
floor. It was the largest and grandest house in the neighborhood.
Alas, like many
historic buildings, the mansion passed through a number of hands
through the decades until it finally was nothing more than a run down
tenement building. It was during this time that a terrible event
occurred – the murder of two young women.
In 1970, a 17
year-old runaway girl who was living in the building was brutally
raped and strangled to death. Shortly afterward, her 18 year-old
friend had the unfortunate timing of stumbling upon the murder. The
killer then shot the second girl. The murder, which remains unsolved,
is allegedly blamed for the paranormal activity that takes place in
the building today.
By the 1990’s the building was in such terrible shape
that the city had condemned it. However, in 1991, the once glorious
structure was saved by Walter and Julie Keller. Fully restored today,
the Kellers went through the long and tedious process of removing the
many years of neglect and restoring the building’s original grandeur.
Today, it serves as the Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens, one of Denver’s
most beautiful examples of Queen Anne architecture, and plays host to
weddings, murder mystery weekends and overnight guests.
Since it has re-opened, the Inn has experienced a
number of haunting incidences, including sightings of a young woman.
Often, phantom footsteps are also heard.
Investigated several times by paranormal groups who have used
Electronic Voice Phenomena (EVP’s), some have said they were able to
contact the two murdered women, who, although relaying their horror,
have obviously not given enough clues to arrest a killer. The murder