Haunted Molly Brown House

Haunted Molly Brown House
Although during my junior high school years I lived only a few blocks from the Molly Brown House where Margaret Tobin was born in Hannibal, Missouri on July 18, 1867, I don’t believe I've ever heard any rumors that this house is haunted. The Molly Brown House at 1340 Pennsylvania in Denver, Colorado, however, is a completely different story.

Margaret Tobin and husband James Joseph Brown purchased the Victorian mansion in the Capitol Hill area of Denver in 1894.

The 7,000 square ft. mansion was built of red sand and gray Rhyolite stone in 1889 by architect William Lang and came equipped with “electric lights, a telephone, indoor plumbing (including one indoor bathroom with hot and cold running water), and forced heat and air.”

The mansion had three floors that included a library and family parlor and quarters for the female maids as well as a grand staircase.

After their legal separation in 1909, Margaret retained possession of the house. She spent less and less time there after the separation, and eventually began renting the home out until the Great Depression. At that time, it was turned into a boarding house. After her death in October of 1932, the house was sold out of the family and subsequent owners renovated the home for separate rental spaces.

In 1958, the mansion became a “gentleman’s boarding house for two years,” before it was leased out to the City of Denver for a “home for wayward girls.”

In 1970, the house was scheduled to be demolished. Mr. Art Leisenring created an organization called Historic Denver Inc. which was able to raise the funds to save the house. It was restored to its 1910 state and opened as a museum.

Paranormal activity experienced in the Molly Brown House include the smell of pipe and cigar smoke which is believed to be indicative of J.J. Brown’s presence (although Margaret's mother was also known to smoke pipe tobacco in the home).

Cold spots and the spirit of Molly have been experienced by staff and visitors in her bedroom.

The apparition of a lady dressed in Victorian clothing is often seen sitting at the dining room table in the house. She is said to enjoy having her picture taken and she likes to rearrange the dining room chairs. It is believed that this spirit is that of Margaret’s mother, Johanna. Strangely, I found no mention of Margaret’s father’s spirit visiting the house, although he died in his bedroom there in 1899.

The window blinds in one of the bedrooms “raise and lower on their own.” This was the bedroom of J.J. and Molly’s daughter, Catherine Ellen. Johanna sometimes stayed in this room as well and her image has been caught in one of the windows in the room.

In a mirror hanging near the stairs on the first floor, the entity of a man believed to be a male servant is sometimes glimpsed.

Not long ago, a tour guide at the Denver Molly Brown house, Demetrius O’Connor, was finished for the day and closing up for the evening. He was walking down the back stairs when he felt a cold breeze rush by him. He thought this was strange, but then saw one of the windows on the second floor was open and assumed that was the source. He closed the window and was walking away when he noticed a shadow of a lady next to his on the floor of the room. When he turned around, no one was there.

References and additional information:
Iversen, Kristen. Molly Brown: Unraveling the Myth. Boulder: Johnson Books, 1999.

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