The Molly Brown House Museum is within a lovely Victorian mansion decorated with stained glass windows and ornamental woodwork. It sits majestically on Pennsylvania Street in downtown Denver, Colorado. The three story building is constructed of red sand and grey rhyolite stone and was built in 1889 for the Isaac Large family. Two of its most famous occupants were James J. and Margaret Brown. Maggie Brown, AKA Molly Brown, became an international household name when she survived the ill-fated Titanic.
The Brown’s, originally from Leadville, Colorado, moved to Denver when J. J. Brown’s gold mine struck pay dirt. They purchased the home in 1894. The couple later separated, but the home was kept in Maggie’s name until she passed away in 1932. Maggie spent much of her incredible life traveling and often rented out the mansion while she was out of town. In 1902, the Governor of Colorado called the Brown home the Governor’s Mansion.
The mansion later became a boarding house, apartments, and a home for teenaged girls. After the popularity of the Debbie Reynolds’ movie, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown,” a new interest in preserving the landmark grew rapidly. The house was restored in the 1970’s and converted into a museum. The Molly Brown Museum offers tours of the home, and programs with exhibits of interest to the public.
Some of the visitors and staff say the house is full of energy from the days of the Brown’s residency. With all the famous owners and guests that periodically lived there, there’s a good chance this is true. Besides the lively home dwellers, there were many servants and boarding house residents who resided in the quarters, too.
Guests are able to visit the bedroom of Catherine Ellen, one of the Brown’s daughters. Maggie’s mother, Johanna Tobin, also occupied this room. She has been seen standing in the window from the street down below. A male servant’s stern face has appeared in a mirror on the first floor which startles the unsuspecting tour guests. The odor of cigar or pipe tobacco is often detected in the area where it is said Mr. Brown like to light up.
Guides say they have felt someone brush past them near the staircase as they lead their daily tours. Light bulbs in the lamps hanging from the ceiling are always coming unscrewed. Many guests have witnessed shadows walking about the rooms, and some have seen a Victorian Lady sitting at the dining room table. A blog mentions that a girl who once lived in the house had a hard time sleeping at night. She complained of hearing footsteps on the upper floor and a creaking noise which sounded like an old rocking chair. Upon exploration of the third floor she indeed found an unoccupied old rocker.
This writer has visited the Molly Brown house and taken the tour several times. It is a great place to visit and receive a history lesson of the Denver high society life style of the early 1900’s. Cameras are not allowed inside the house on the tour. Visit the area where Molly Brown yearned to be a part of Denver society and desired to be ‘up where the people are’ and you will feel unsinkable, too!
For hours and admission fees visit: www.mollybrown.org
Molly Brown House Museum
1340 Pennsylvania Street
Denver, CO 80303
Revamped from December 7, 2009 Arizona Haunted Places story by Debe Branning