Denver Inn With Haunted Past Plans to Apply for Marijuana Hospitality License

Thomas Mitchell
The Patterson Inn, currently a hot spot for ghost tours, could add a marijuana lounge, if the owner gets what he wants.
The Patterson Inn wants to become Denver's first hotel with an official marijuana consumption lounge, and the owner believes he's in the right spot to make it happen.

In 2018, Chris Chiari purchased the Patterson Inn, an old mansion with a haunted past at 420 East 11th Avenue, with the intention of turning it into a marijuana-friendly hotel. The Patterson was zoned as a multi-unit property, making it ineligible for Denver's marijuana hospitality licensing program, but that didn't deter Chiari. He pressed the city to rezone the Patterson as a mixed-use property, a move that Denver City Council approved on August 23.

Marijuana hospitality got off to a slow start in Denver after recreational marijuana was legalized in 2012, with the majority of pot-friendly establishments operating as private venues. The tides began turning earlier this year, though, when Denver City Council approved an overhaul of local marijuana social consumption rules — on April 20, no less. Starting in November, mobile lounges, dispensaries, cafes, yoga studios, hotels and other qualified businesses can apply to the city for a marijuana consumption license, and Chiari believes he'll be ready.

Chiari says that a survey of the property indicated that the Patterson doesn't fall within the city's 1,000-foot buffer zone that must separate a marijuana business from any daycare center, drug treatment center or city-owned park, pool or recreation center. Now he's focused on starting conversations with neighbors and nearby community groups in hopes of making the Patterson marijuana-friendly without surprising anyone.

"I can share now as a true statement that the property at 420 East 11th Avenue in Denver qualifies to apply for a cannabis consumption lounge," Chiari says. He plans to create a parlor-like marijuana space where guests can smoke, vape and eat edibles. He eventually wants to allow guests to vape marijuana in their rooms, too, but is still figuring out his options.

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Patterson Inn owner Chris Chiari
Courtesy of Chris Chiari
"I hope the neighborhood sees the next step as a positive," he says. "For me, it’s just another effort over the last decade as I’ve committed my life to the normalization of cannabis possession and use. For neighbors, I hope they see it as a small effort to get tourists off the street. And for guests, I hope to finally create a legal and licensed space for adult cannabis consumption."

Although the Denver Department of Excise and Licenses can't confirm the accuracy of Chiari's survey results, communications director Eric Escudero doesn't dismiss the idea of a pot-friendly Patterson, either.

"Denver will not begin accepting hospitality establishment licenses until November as our agency works to make sure everything is ready to accept online applications. As a result, we cannot officially confirm this potential applicant's survey results until we receive an application," he says. "It’s good news to hear there is an applicant standing by to apply with a potential property in place that is within the restrictions."

Built in 1890, the building was at one point called the Croke Patterson Mansion, named after the property's builder, Thomas B. Croke, and eventual owner, Thomas M. Patterson. During renovations to the property in the 1970s, workers began reporting whispering voices, weird smells and encounters with spiritual forces, and the stories have never faded. The Patterson is now a popular stop for local ghost tours, and Chiari has his own stories.

While touring the property for the first time in 2011, Chiari says that he ran into the ghost of Patterson's wife, Katherine, who told him to "get off the f-ing grass" as he stood on the front lawn.

If the Patterson's pot lounge comes to fruition, that ghost could soon be telling a lot more people to get off the grass.