Ten spooky stories from Denver's own Croke-Patterson mansion
"Anyone can write a ghost book and make it up, but when you've got something in your neighborhood that has a rich history and you can tie the spirits to who lived in that house, that makes your hair stand up," says Ann Alexander Leggett, who co-authored A Haunted History of Denver's Croke-Patterson Mansion with her daughter, Jordan. The pair researched the famously ghost-ridden mansion's history, and will be signing copies of the book tonight. The $25 tickets (which must be purchased ahead of time online) supports Historic Denver and also grants access to the mansion from 6 to 9 p.m.; closed for years to the public, the house has been undergoing renovations to become a bed and breakfast. Here are the spookiest mansion ghost sightings.
photo by Ann Alexander Leggett
10. The caretaker in the carriage house
Ann Alexander Leggett: The carriage house has a whole different energy than the main house and it's interesting because here's Krista [a psychic] having a conversation with people that I can't hear. There's a spirit in the carriage house of an Irish caretaker, and both the Pattersons and the Crokes were of Irish descent. And she [the ghost] was in the carriage house and she was immediately put off by us being there and just said, "What are you doing here?" and Krista explained that I was writing this book and everything and immediately the woman said "Okay, if she's ever afraid in the main house, just tell her she can come here and she'll be safe" and then the next thing she says when we're getting ready to leave, she says, "Tell her we want her to write the whole story. She has to tell the whole story." That's a little bit of pressure.
9. The ghost of Kate Patterson helping a pregnant woman
AAL: There was a woman who lived there with her family and she was pregnant with triplets at the time.
Jordan Alexander Leggett: They were the last single family to live there in the late 90s, early 2000s.
AAL: In the late stages of her pregnancy, she was obviously pretty uncomfortable. One morning she was just in bed and not feeling well and just couldn't roll over and an apparition appeared to her and offered her hand and actually helped her roll over in bed. The apparition said "My name is Kate." And, of course, Thomas Patterson's wife was named Kate, or Katherine, so that's one of the stories that people don't know so much about.
8. The opening and closing drawers
AAL: The same woman's husband had an office up on the third floor and he had a desk in between these two little closets, and they had a couch on the right-hand side, and he always had his drawers locked. And she said you could sit on the couch and watch the drawers open and close and open and close. And then you'd get up and they're all locked.
7. The attempted exorcism
AAL: When the woman who lived there had the triplets, she had a friend who brought in a priest who was gonna bless the house, kind of exorcise it. So they brought in this priest. He walked in and immediately went in to the front parlor to start his blessing and all of a sudden all the plaster starts to peel off where this fireplace was and this dark vortex of wind comes out of this fireplace. The priest just left.
6. The phantom voices
AAL: The psychics that we brought in and the paranormal groups picked up you can't believe how many voices.
JAL: Mom took a psychic in and this woman just had a tape recorder in her hands and two days ago I finally got the tape and from what I can hear it's some of the craziest stuff ever. Like, Krista will pick something up and say "Oh, I'm getting a woman named Rosemary, Rosemarie, something Marie, Mary? You know, I don't know" and you hear a pause and there's this whisper that's like, "Rose."
photo by Ann Alexander Leggett
5. The woman who feared for her soul
AAL: When they had offices there, they couldn't keep tenants because typewriters would type in the middle of the night by themselves, babies crying on the third floor, party noises coming from a back closet, and so those kinds of things persist. When we first started the research I had just googled "Croke-Patterson" and I got this lady's blog and she said she used to have an office there in the late 80s. She said all kinds of strange things happened there. So I got her email and said, you know, "Would you be willing to talk to me about it?" And she didn't answer me and didn't answer me. Finally, she came back and said "Why?" So I explained who I was and that I was writing a history of the house and about the hauntings as well. She said, "Well, okay, I just want my stories to be taken seriously because they were very intense to me." So I sent her this list of questions and she answered a couple of them and it's a little bit vague, and then I don't hear from her again and so I emailed her back and time goes by and she sends an email back that says "Good luck with the book." She just couldn't go back there. She just couldn't deal with it anymore.
JAL: She did answer a few questions initially and one was "Did you ever feel like you were physically unsafe in the house?" And she's like, "I never felt physically unsafe, but I feared for my soul."
4. The super-human wind
AAL: In the early 70s they were gonna tear it down and a woman named Mary Rae, who's now a realtor in Denver, basically saved this house and bought it. It had tenants in it; it was an apartment building at the time. But she couldn't keep people in it. They were bailing in the middle of the night because of the baby crying and all this kind of stuff.
JAL: Not even like, "I'm gonna leave." They were just gone in the morning. Didn't pay their rent, just left.
AAL: She had a young couple living down on the main floor in one of the units and she gets a call on a Sunday afternoon, and they have a baby and he says "You need to come over now." And so she goes over and he opens the door and the place is just turned completely upside down--everything is in shambles. There's a big fireplace that had a huge wood and brass insert, really heavy. And it's not there anymore simply because they were sitting in the apartment and all of a sudden this insert blew out from the inside like this terrible huge force of wind came down the chimney and blew this thing out. A super-human force Mary said would have had to have done this. It was an extremely old heavy piece.
JAL: 75 pounds at least.
3. The baby in the basement
JAL: In the 80s they have this seance and the medium is like "I'm seeing something in the basement. There's a child who died, a crazy weeping mother," like the whole shenanigans. So they go down to the basement. In this back corner somewhere behind the electrical panel there's this corner of brick that sticks out that's vaguely the size and shape of a fireplace and so I guess that night they dug behind that wall and they found, well, it varies what they found. Either they found ashes or they found nothing or they found sea salt and sea sand that you can't find in Colorado. As time has gone by, there have been people who have done tours of the house, legally or not, and they replenish the sand in the hole. I guess apparently there was a story about a woman who had lost her baby and dug it up and buried it in the wall, and then it was found and re-entered in the cemetery. It's kind of an odd conglomeration of rumor that has gotten larger over the years. It's really hard because the census is once every 10 years so if there was a child it may not have been reported. We've had a few mediums and psychics in there who do say there was definitely something with a child in the basement.
2. The suicidal guard dogs
JAL: There was some remodeling going on in the 70s, they were turning it into offices, so they had had some trouble with a transient population--people were breaking in and whatnot.
AAL: The workers would come in every day and find that everything they'd done the day before was undone.
JAL: They were blaming the homeless people, but there were people who were like uh, maybe it wasn't the homeless people, maybe it was the house. So they got a guard and a fence, and neither guards nor fences apparently had any effect, so they got three guard dogs instead.
AAL: And put them in the house.
JAL: So night number one, one dog goes through a plate glass window on the third floor--he dies on the driveway. Crazy. Night number two, the second dog goes through the same window and they find the third dog shaking and drooling or whatever in the corner somewhere on the third floor, basically out of its mind.
AAL: So basically the premise being they were so afraid by something in the house that they jumped to their deaths.
JAL: One of the guys from Rocky Mountain Paranormal has found a guy who was there, like, found the dogs on the driveway. So part of it is true. I don't think there was a third dog according to that gentleman and there's no temporary or plate glass window on the third story, so I think they went out of the turret room, which is a little tiny window.
1. The woman at the top of the stairs
JAL: A few people have had a lot of trouble walking up the stairs to the third floor. You get two thirds of the way up the stairs and all of the oxygen is gone. On the tape you can hear Mom and the psychic gasping.
Months later, I found a death certificate totally by accident. Death certificates are not easy to come by, and I was at the clerk and recorder because at a certain point in the 1960s anything beyond that is either in the basement of the City and County building or in the library, so I was going to find out where exactly the book I was looking for was. And he pulls up on the microphiche, he's like "Oh yeah here's back to 1960 or something" and he's like, "What is this?" and it says "Death Cert." So he pulls it up and there's a random death certificate stored with the tax records on this house and it's for the house when Dr. Sudan owned it. Dr. Sudan his wife it turns out committed suicide in the house. It wasn't publicized, there's no obituary, there's really nothing about it, and then he got remarried five years later and so this death certificate is a copy of the one issued the day of, so it looks like he had to prove that she was dead or something so he could get remarried. So I found this death certificate and it says how she died and all this stuff we didn't know. The woman who committed suicide, she mixed rat poison and water, which creates cyanogas which is similar to Zyklon B, which is the gas they used in the Holocaust to gas people. Within one to three minutes, all the oxygen is gone.
AAL: Krista felt [the gasping] was the woman who died form the cyanogas suicide and basically suffocated and couldn't breathe. She felt that woman stands at the top of the stairs. And how bizarre that Krista and I didn't know that.
JAL: We didn't know till months later.
For more information and to purchase tickets for tonight's event, visit http://cpmansion.eventbrite.com/.
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