So, my cousin, Leigh, and her husband, Greg, came to my house for spring break. They were going to a concert and they also spent a few days just hanging out. I am glad they did. I hadn’t seem Leigh much in the last few years and had never had a chance to get to know Greg really well, so it was fun to spend some time with them.
They had asked me to help them think of some fun things to do in Denver, and I hope we did some things that interested them. The first thing that came to mind was the “Ghost Tour.”
I heard about ghost tours in the old downtown area called Capitol Hill for a while and had thought they would be fun, but had never gone. I knew Leigh and Greg had done some fun things with paranormal groups and classes in the past and were interested in those sorts of things, so I immediately sent them a link to one.
I am not going to share the actual name of the tour we took, but if anyone wants to know I will be happy to share that privately with them.
The tour takes place in the area of Denver which is where there are many old mansions dating back to the 1880’s or so. Molly Brown’s house (the unsinkable Molly Brown) was the first stop on our tour. It is on the first street going north and south that had electricity and is full of old beautiful properties. The area has always been one of my favorites. I was lucky enough to move here after the area was being torn down, inhabited by crack heads, and basically abandoned by all but the worst parts of humanity. The old buildings have always interested me and I love architecture and local history.
We met our tour guide in a parking lot, paid him in cash, and he started taking us around the area. He was a funny, nice man, and kept a better pace than I would have guessed he could.
His knowledge of the history of the buildings he showed us was detailed and interesting. He had a good story telling ability. He knew a lot about the area in general and the history of who lived there, why they might have sold, who died there and how the houses came to be what they are today. Many of the buildings had been either turned into apartment houses or bed and breakfasts. One was an office building. Several times people stopped and talked to him. They had seen him out on his tours and knew him and what he does. A couple people asked how to get ahold of him and where they could find his tours.
The night was beautiful. It wasn’t cold enough to need more than a jacket, even when standing and listening to some of the stories for a while. I was happy the lady who took our reservation told us to wear comfortable shoes. Even in my tennis shoes my feet started hurting after a while. Walking around after dark in the beautiful and trendy area, seeing people out enjoying the weather, looking at the old houses was all so enjoyable.
Apparently the tour used to go inside many of the houses, but no longer does according to their website. The owners weren’t willing to claim liability for what might happen in their properties – that is the explanation.
We heard many very interesting stories, but I can only say that one house really really felt creepy to me. A couple were interesting and had a certain spookiness to them. Especially when coupled with the stories told.
The Croke-Patterson house was by far the creepiest to me. It has a very rich history and not just in creepy story terms. One story was about a woman who lost her child shortly after birth and couldn’t bear to part with her, so moved her body back to the house after burial. Another story was about the care taker. The house isn’t far from Cheeseman Park and when the city decided to move the bodies from what was then the City Cemetary to make it into a park, they hired this man to oversee it. He apparently stored some of the bodies in the carriage house where he lived along with animal bodies – all of which had been mutilated – and then got caught trying to kidnap a neighbor girl. He was hung in the street in the middle of the night. They say his ghost still lives there, and I can’t say I don’t believe it. There were several times I felt a chill on my neck and also we saw some strange shadows. The tour guide told us that often people see the shadow of a chain behind the window wiggle when talking about him, and sure enough, it was wiggling. Suggestion? Trick of the eye? Minds playing tricks on us? Maybe he has someone who makes the chain wiggle when people are there. I don’t know. But it did creep me out. The rest of the house is just as creepy in it’s own way. Here is a link that talks about it a bit. http://blogs.westword.com/showandtell/2011/10/top_ten_creepiest_ghost_sighti.php
I thought the first part of the tour was excellent. He basically told us the histories and the information they had received on their “paranormal investigations”. Unfortunately after a house or three he started talking mostly about his son and wife and their psychic abilities and their “phone to the dead” and their business dealings. Even if he had just stuck to “on a tour once this happened” and briefly told us about something creepy that happened to someone, that would have been interesting to me. But the descriptions of what his son did or what they felt was going on in the house didn’t blend in with the stories and it made it difficult to follow the actual ghost stories. It also sounded a little self serving to be honest… though I don’t know if it was because of the advertising feel or the name dropping part…
I would have much preferred the stories and history to be the main focus. He did say he doesn’t always do the tours, so maybe that isn’t always a problem.
In the end we had a lovely time, even if we got a little tired in the end. The tour guide took us on a longer tour than normal, which was cool because one of the last houses was very interesting to me. We saw a lot of beautiful buildings and blocks, and spent the evening outside in the fresh air with good company.
I would definitely recommend going on a tour like this. Even if you don’t believe in ghosts or spirits or hauntings or anything like that, it’s just a fun way to learn about history you won’t normally hear. The darker side of the area, so to speak.