High-Class Hauntings at Denver’s Historic Brown Palace Hotel:
[custom_headline type=”left, center, right” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ accent=”true”]It Doesn’t Have to Be Halloween for These Ghosts to Give You Goosebumps. [/custom_headline]
Standing quietly in the center of the empty second floor Brown Club, I felt nothing. This should have been quite acceptable, but since my husband and I were on a mission to meet a resident ghost, it was disappointing, to say the least. Even the frigid breeze turned out to be nothing more than a sign the air conditioning system was in tip-top shape.
As we made our exit, my guide dog, Otto, abruptly stopped and stood stock still in the doorway. Despite my ‘forward’ command, he wouldn’t budge.
Fearing I might have to pick him up and carry him out, I gave a gentle tug on his leash, which seemed to break his trance and got him moving slowly toward the elevator. Otto had seen something, because he was staring intently at something. My husband couldn’t see anything, and of course, neither could I.
Had we just experienced one of the paranormal events that have become an integral part of the Brown Palace’s history and marketing plan? Since the hotel has its own historian, I contacted Deborah Faulkner to help shed some light on the curious incident of my dog in the doorway.
Deborah didn’t disappoint. She proved to be an invaluable resource, offering up fascinating information about the hotel’s past, and some of its unpredictable inhabitants.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ icon=”lightbulb-o”]Other-Worldly Temper Tantrums and Odd Apparitions [/feature_headline]
Although Deborah has served as Brown Palace Hotel Historian for seven years, she also spent several years as a tour guide. This afforded her numerous opportunities to delve into the history and hauntings of this four-and-a-half star Denver icon.
One of the most valuable tools Deborah utilizes to do her job so well, aside from her knowledge, love of history, enthusiasm and humor, is a wealth of archived material. Making full use of original blueprints, documents, photos, newspaper articles and reviews, as well as items such as old menus, she has come to understand what has made the hotel what is today.
Public tours are offered on Wednesdays and Fridays, and private custom tours are available upon request. Naturally, October is the most popular month for ghost tours, and Deborah’s first pre-Halloween month saw her leading 73 of them. ”That’s when I learned to say no,” she chuckled.
“The ghosts are pretty dynamic,” Deborah explained. “Most are not connected to any room or any time of year. They don’t come on command. They’ll turn up when you least expect them.” She then proceeded to tell of two entities who favor specific areas of the hotel.
Mediums are occasionally brought in to help add dimension to already-existing ghostly tales. One such visit by a medium on Halloween resulted in a startling insight regarding a room long believed to be haunted.
The medium indicated the presence of a woman in a corner of the room. She sometimes crossed to the bathroom, but mostly remained in one spot. “And she’s steamed,” the medium concluded.
Apparently, the entity didn’t like to see women wearing pants, and hated tattoos. This ghost felt the people being brought into her space were not good enough to be in the Brown Palace Hotel. Deborah’s response to this revelation was, “Too bad. She’s dead. We’re not. And I’m going to keep bringing people in here.”
The following day, November 1, the Day of the Dead in Spanish culture, when the veil between this world and the next is supposedly at its thinnest. Deborah led a ghost tour for four young women, and the afore-mentioned room was on the agenda.
One of the women wanted to photograph the ghost’s corner in hope of capturing an orb in her photo. When the flash went off a brighter more intense light was visible within the illumination of the flash.
The young woman’s fourth photo, revealed not an orb, but something like horizontal lightning. “I got goosebumps on my arms and the back of my neck,” Deborah recalled. “That wasn’t a phenomenon. That was a pissed-off entity.” And that was when she knew the Brown Palace Hotel was really haunted.
But what of Otto’s experience? Deborah suggested a possible answer.
Sightings have been reported of a man in a dark suit or uniform near the entrance to the Brown club. He wears a cap, and is said to resemble an old-time railroad conductor. One of the hotel’s security staff calls him Thomas, and it was this man’s acquaintance we were hoping to make the day we visited the hotel.
“When people try to speak to him,” Deborah said, “he drifts down to the first floor and disappears into the wall of the 90 degree angle of the hotel’s right triangle.”
When the Brown Palace hotel first opened in August, 1892, the entire ground floor was encircled with shops and businesses. In the right corner of the triangle was the office of the Rock Island Railroad.
One of Deborah’s tour participants insisted he saw Thomas coming out of the women’s restroom outside the club, and heard his footsteps, but no one else did.
The man returned the following year and clarified what he had seen. It was not the women’s restroom outside the club. He walked to the opposite wall, where he had seen Thomas, there was no door, only a blank wall where he thought the women’s restroom had been.
Consulting the original blueprints, Deborah discovered a huge steam pipe that ran from the boiler connected to an artesian well, which ran all the way up to the roof.
This artesian well has supplied the hotel with all its water since it was built and is located 720 feet down. Visiting psychics believe when the aquifer was penetrated a gateway to and from the next world was opened. “Your dog figured it out,” Deborah concluded. But perhaps Otto simply saw someone who might give him a head-scratch, and didn’t care from which world he came.
[feature_headline type=”left” level=”h2″ looks_like=”h3″ icon=”lightbulb-o”]The Worldly Hotel [/feature_headline]
The Brown Palace Hotel’s triangular shape has been a downtown Denver landmark since it opened on August 12, 1892. Although the Oxford Hotel opened the previous year, it was closed for major renovation over a period of several years in the late 20th century. The Brown Palace has been open every day since its debut, making it Denver’s longest continuously operating hotel.
The Brown Palace Hotel was designed and built for Henry C. Brown of Ohio, a carpenter-turned-real-estate success story. Brown made, lost and remade his fortune, and purchased, among many other strategic properties, the triangular plot of land upon which the luxury hotel that bears his name now stands.
Constructed in the Italian Renaissance style, the building’s exterior is comprised of Colorado red granite and Arizona sandstone. Look up to the 7th floor, and let your eyes linger on some of the 26 carved stone medallions separating the windows. Each one represents a Rocky Mountain animal.
The hotel’s interior is decorated in a combination of late Victorian and 1930s décor. The atrium, soars eight floors above a lobby of marble and imported Mexican onyx. Cast iron balcony railings draw your eyes to their ornate and exquisite grillwork. For reasons unknown, two of the grillwork panels were installed upside down, and have been left unaltered.
The Brown Palace has all the elements of a historic luxury hotel. From the cigar humidor in the Churchill Bar, to the individual tea strainer as part of each setting for afternoon tea. Attention to detail and appreciation of tradition makes this landmark well worth a visit.
Whether you plan to book one of the 241 rooms or suites, drop in for a meal, a drink, a tour, a spa treatment, or a look-around, you will be charmed by the many intriguing facets of the Brown Palace Hotel.
“It’s a magical place, a powerful place,” Deborah concluded. “It’s a sanctuary place for travelers, and I hope it will always remain that way.”
The Brown Palace Hotel
321 17th Street
Denver, CO, 80202
Phone: (303) 297-3111