Jack Nicholson’s portrayal of the kind husband-turned-psychopath in the movie The Shining, put Colorado’s Stanley Hotel on the map as one of the premier haunted destinations in Denver, but there are several other haunted places and urban legends in Mile High City.
The famous hotel, opened in 1909 by Freelan Oscar Stanley, of “Stanley Steamer” fame, draws thousands of visitors each year in search of the otherworldly spirits such as Stanley and and his wife. Reports of the piano in the grand ballroom playing by itself, as well as mysterious apparitions appearing in guest rooms, keep guests coming back for more.
While the Stanley Hotel is certainly one of the most notorious haunted places in Colorado, Denver is home to several establishments that reportedly include inhabitants from the past who refuse to vacate the premises.
The Lumber Baron Inn
2555 W 37th Ave.
Like many of the historic mansions in and around Denver, the Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens was built by a Scottish immigrant named John Mouat, who made his fortune in the lumber trade in the late 1800s. No expense was spared as the home was built, incorporating cherry, walnut and sycamore woods into the interior, all ornately carved in one-of-a-kind designs. Mouat hosted extravagant parties and social events in his home, welcoming the richest and finest families in Denver.
Mouat eventually left the mansion and all its grandeur, leaving it to change hands many times among Denver’s silver, lumber and real estate barons. While the Lumber Baron sat empty during the early 1970s, rumor has it that a teenage girl who was squatting in the mansion illegally was brutally murdered. Her friend subsequently went looking for her, and as the story goes, she was also murdered.
Neither murder was solved and some believe the bonds of friendship have tied the two girls to the home eternally, with claims of unexplained footsteps and paranormal phenomena active in the home.
The Patterson Historic Inn
420 E 11th Ave.
Originally known as the Croke-Patterson Mansion, the Patterson Historic Inn is rumored to have some of Denver’s most mysterious and spookiest beginnings. Legend has it that Thomas Croke, a successful merchant who went on to serve as a state Senator, had the mansion built in 1890 but entered the completed building only once. He was so spooked by something in the home he never returned. The home was sold to Thomas Patterson two years later.
Stories of the mansion’s history are wide and varied, including one telling of two guard dogs found dead after jumping from the third-floor window. Others claim the body of an unidentified young girl is buried in the cellar, and later claims declare that Patterson himself can be seen wandering the grounds.
The Inn has been restored to its original glory and now serves as a thriving Bed and Breakfast. Considered one of Denver’s most elite lodging destinations today, the Patterson Historic Inn includes nine themed rooms, including the Antoinette, the Prague, the Cheshire and the Royale.
The Buckhorn Exchange
1000 Osage St.
One of Denver’s oldest drinking and eating establishments, the Buckhorn Exchange holds the State’s first liquor license, and has been a favorite gathering spot for some of the most famous, and infamous, characters of the West for more than a century. Established in 1893 by Henry H. “Shorty Scout” Zietz, the Buckhorn catered to silver barons, Indian chiefs, gamblers, businessmen and Zietz’s own band of nefarious friends, including Buffalo Bill.
Zietz was a man of prosperous vision and saw the endless potential for business when he built the Buckhorn directly across from the Rio Grande Railroad yards. Each week railroaders flocked to exchange their paychecks for gold, and in return each man received a token good for a free lunch and a beer from Zietz.
Reports of mysterious voices heard in the restaurant, as well as sounds of footsteps and claims of tables moving on their own lend questions as to which of the establishment’s notorious visitors have taken up residency from beyond the grave.
Today the Buckhorn still boasts an impressive collection of taxidermy, a rare collection of guns and historic photographs that invoke thoughts of those who came before.