The Haunted Heart of Denver

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The Haunted Heart of Denver
Series Title:
The Haunted Heart of Denver
Ekstrand, Peg
Place of Publication:
Denver, CO
Center for Colorado and the West
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Auraria Library
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Auraria Library
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The Haunted Heart of Denver | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:43:20 AM] Home The Haunted Heart of DenverThe Haunted Heart of DenverSubmitted by nwharton on 8-19-2012 11:05 AMAuthor: Kevin Pharris Publishing: Charleston, SC: Haunted America, 2011. 107 pages. Black-andwhite photographs, bibliography. 6 x 9. $19.99 paperback. Reviewer: Peg Ekstrand Reviewer Affiliation: Metropolitan State University of Denver Kevin Pharris makes an astoundingly confident claim in the preface to this bookthat he has an innate propensity for historical accuracy and a devotion to the truth(10). Yet, a mere five pages later, guiding the reader on a walking tour of Capitol Hill, sharing the chilling tales . gleaned over years of discussing ghosts(15), he states that the phrase One Mile Above Sea Level, carved in one of the granite steps on the west side of the Colorado State Capitol, points to the true 5,280-foot-high marker. In fact, there are three different markers on the steps, each claiming to be the exact mile-high spot. However, it is the bronze medallion placed by a group of students from Metropolitan State College of Denver in 2002 that bears the officially accurate measurement. To make matters worse, the author repeats this error again in one of the photo captions on page 17. Pharris is flippant throughout the book, as he illustrates in this first example. He tells his reader (or tour participant) to be seated once the mile-high marker, referred to above, has been located. Sit down so that your posterior is exactly a mile high and continue reading!(15) Such informality is not professional and certainly not necessary. Next, in describing Henry C. Browns real estate development on Capitol Hill, Pharris writes: Sure the area had some height and offers a fine view of the mountains to the west, but anyone who thought that this land would be anything was either chewing on some loco weed with the cows or was simply deluded(20). While mentioning the vacant status of the Croke-Patterson-Campbell mansion, he offers another pert remark. If there are any millionaires out there reading this with lots of money and nothing to do with it, I want you to put this book down now [authors emphasis] and do two things: first, immediately give me a call and lets be good friends (Ive always wanted a millionaire for a friend), . and second, buy the mansion and make it what it was destined to be: an opulent and wonderful haunted bed-and-breakfast, offering respite for folks on both sides of the divide, so to speak(35). On the lower downtown (LoDo) walking tour, Pharris includes a story about John Fitzgerald, a barber from Leadville, who traveled to Denver in the spring of 1884 to buy supplies and partake of the female pleasures found along Market Street. He ended up in the company of Miss Mattie Lemmons. Pharris states that at this point we are forced to surmise some, so let me give it a go (93). Unwisely, Fitzgerald had bundled all of his cash for purchasing his tonsorial supplies in the front of his pants. The bulge caught Miss Lemmonss eye as she glimpsed his enormous, his gigantic, his prodigious . wad of money . . [and] how she EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanNow, thats wrong! Some of these Japanese are citizens of the United States. Colorado Gov. Ralph Carrs response to Executive Order 9066 forcing Japanese into internment camps during WWII.


The Haunted Heart of Denver | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library[12/8/2015 9:43:20 AM] must have cooed!(93) Historical accuracy? Pshaw! Licentiousness such as this has no place in a work published by the History Press, Haunted America Division or no. Sandwiched in between the walking tours in the book are detailed ghostly encounters. One chapter, A Life with Ghosts(51), describes the reminiscences of a woman in her early sixties named Ivy. Her memories are of run-ins with a phantom she calls the Thing(52). It beckoned her in the night fifty-plus years ago while she was visiting her grandparents farm near whats now the intersection of Simms and Belleview. Her ghoulish experiences persisted throughout her teenage years and into young adulthood. Gradually, visits from the Thing tapered off until recently. Ivy is quoted as saying, Im getting more tired and Im not strong enough to keep it so far away from me. Now that I am all alone, its visits have become more frequent(60). More specter activities fill the chapter about a house on Inca Street, somewhere in the historic Baker neighborhoodcreepy sounds, mysterious tiny footprints left in the dust upstairs, and stray cats and pesky squirrels taking over the house. Brinker and Stella, the owners, had been trying to restore their old home, but ultimately they were driven out, moving to a new house. The ghosts were finally dispatched using a paper maze. The property, still owned by Stella and Brinker, remains vacant today. While the oral history documentation on each and every encounter with these spirits is very detailed, no history of the house on Inca is given nor is any history of the Baker neighborhood offered to give the reader a sense of time and placea disappointment. Pharris does make a few points that are of interest. He mentions that famed entrepreneur Walter S. Cheesman died in 1907 at his temporary home, 1200 Pennsylvania in Denver (now known as the DunningBenedict Mansion), as he waited for the construction of his new home several blocks away, at 400 East Eighth Avenue (now the governors residence at the Boettcher Mansion). Then he writes of the bodies that were unearthed just two years ago in the area immediately to the east of Cheesman Park, which served as Denver first cemetery, and another one that turned up recently when the Denver Botanic Gardens was excavating for its new garage on York Street. His explanation of the 1880 Halloween night Hop Alley race riot against the feared [Chinese] Yellow Horde is factual and well written. He even ties it back into the denizens of Market Street. These prostitutes helped the escaping Asians who would have died at the devouring hands of the ruthless mob, but the Chinese had, in great numbers, fled into the bordellos that neighbored their businesses in Hop Alley(105). Even though I have rendered a less-than-kind critique of his book, I doubt that Pharris will be undeterred as he exuberantly proclaims to the reader, Perhaps youve been saying something to yourself along the lines of: Self, this is really one of the most amazing books I have ever read. Whoever wrote this must be astoundingly good looking, intelligent and humble (96). I rest my case. Reviewer Info: Peg Ekstrand has lived in the Capitol Hill neighborhood since 1987, and she has given countless tours of central Denver. She is the director of client services for CRL Associates, a leading government relations, public affairs, and strategic communications firm. For seventeen years she served as the public relations director for the Colorado Historical Society. Ekstrand has a masters degree in history from the University of Colorado Denver and is a Colorado history instructor at Metropolitan State University of Denver.