What makes a building scary? Is it the creaky attic or the eerie stairwell that leads to a dark, cold basement, or is it the eroding aesthetics and mysterious nooks and crannies?
According to Amir Ameri, PhD, a professor in CU Denver’s College of Architecture, all of the above. The term “haunted house” was introduced with the revival of medieval architecture in the 18th century. Think tall spires, turrets, stained-glass windows, brick and stone, rounded staircases, narrow hallways with sharp corners.
“They tend to be more asymmetrical, more fragmented, more vertical,” Ameri said. “It’s this fragmentation that makes you wonder if something is hiding.”
Denver is home to its fair share of spooky settings, particularly in older neighborhoods like Capitol Hill. Below are five haunted spaces to visit—if you dare—this October.
Croke-Patterson Mansion, 420 East 11th Ave.
Built in 1890 by Thomas B. Croke, the stately mansion on Capitol Hill is now a bed and breakfast. Legend has it that two dogs leapt to their death from the third story during a renovation, objects have gone missing, and otherworldly voices have been heard. Some even say they’ve spotted Thomas Patterson, a former owner of the home, in the courtyard between the mansion and the carriage house.
Peabody-Whitehead Mansion, 1128 Grant St.
Located along what was once known as “Millionaires Row” near the Colorado Capitol Building, this mansion was built by William Riddick Whitehead and later occupied by Colorado Governor James Peabody. Whitehead, who served as a battlefield surgeon during the Russian Crimean War and the American Civil War, is said to have died of an illness on the property. According to local news outlet The Know, after the mansion was converted into a restaurant and nightclub in 1955, there were reports of breaking glasses and mysterious forces moving forks and knives around the kitchen.
Molly Brown House Museum, 1340 Pennsylvania St.
This beautiful Victorian was once the home of Denver socialites J.J. and Molly Brown (the Titanic survivor) and now serves as a well-known museum, showcasing Brown’s mementos and memorabilia. But that’s not all: Tour guides, museum workers, and tourists say they’ve spotted the spirits of what appear to be the former owners and their family members, and sometimes, they’ll even catch a whiff of J.J.’s pipe smoke or notice furniture rearranged.
Brown Palace Hotel, 321 17th St.
A lot can happen in more than 100 years, which is why this historic hotel is said to have visits from the spirits of past guests, employees, even musicians. Legend has it that a Denver socialite lived in room 904 from 1940 to 1955. When the hotel included her story of heartbreak in its tours, the switchboard began to receive calls from the room, even though it was empty and undergoing renovation.
Cheeseman Park, 1900 E 11th Ave.
This may be the most haunted place in Denver to spend Halloween. That’s because it was a cemetery until it became one of Denver’s most popular parks in the early 1900s. The undertaker at the time, E. P. McGovern, was ordered to move 5,000 graves, but due to allegations of dismembering the corpses so they could be placed in child-sized coffins to make more money, he was dismissed before all of the graves could be relocated. A couple thousand bodies are expected to remain.