Robert Failing in the back yard of the Barnum House, year unknown.
The Barnum House became part of Denver lore through the embellished stories of Robert Failing, a onetime owner who called himself Bart Barnum and, on tours of the place, claimed to be the great-great-grandson of P.T. Barnum, known for his “Greatest Show on Earth” traveling circus. But as a 2001 Westword article revealed, while Failing might have been quite a showman himself, he was no relation to P.T. Barnum. Still, the show must go on, and new owner Melanie Steinway and her housemates are using the space not just as a home, but as a DIY venue for intimate and curated house shows. They’re calling it the Barnum Better Animal Center in honor of Steinway’s dog, guinea pigs and a rabbit named Chicken.