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(Back to Colorado Haunted Index)

Lumber Baron Inn –
HauntedHouses.com

Haunted Place: Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens

Address:

2555 West 37th Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80211
Phone: (303) 477-8205

Location:

John Mouat's 1890 Mansion, known as The Lumber Baron Mansion since 1991 can be found in the Potter Highlands Historic District in the heart of the historic Italian section of Denver. Its rough days are behind it now, thanks to the redevelopment efforts of the city some twenty years ago.

Description:

When Tom and I stayed here in July of 2015, this beautiful 9,700 sq.ft. four storied, seven bedroom, ten bath, glorious Queen Anne Mansion was for sale. It sits on a corner lot, that has 14,000 sq feet. There is a beautiful garden area in the front yard, a charming wrap around porch that surrounds the entire house, and a large garden, with fountains, flowers, statues and green lawn in the back of the house, where people have enjoyed this space as their wedding or special event venue.

While the Kellers have owned it, other special events have taken place here, as well as plays, because it was built to have lots of room inside and outside for entertaining. The mansion has two large parlors; one in the front of the mansion, and one in the back of the mansion, that opens to the back porch area.

The Kellers have sold most of their antiques in the parlor and dining room, but this allows the visitor to admire the fabulous carved woodwork closely. There is a lovely bar as well. Enjoying a beer or a glass of wine didn't come to a screeching halt because of the Prohibition years. Local authorities often looked the other way in the western states.

A large, maple floored ballroom on the fourth floor has been a stage for plays and murder mysteries. It has an occupancy for a hundred people, and a small stage area for the performers.

The decor and artistry inside is as grand as the outside of the house. The wood carvings throughout the mansion are splendid, as is the stair case. The fireplaces are all exquisite, with their original mantels and beautiful carvings. Many of the up-scale decor touches used in 1890 are all still there. It truly was a dream house of the John Mouat family, and the Fowler family as well.

The current owners, Walter and Julie Keller, have completely restored this mansion to its former glory, which would please the original owner, John Mouat.

denver-hotel

HISTORY:

In 1848, John Mouat was born in Scotland, and immigrated to America in 1873, at the age of 25; settling in Denver, Colorado. John worked hard in the lumber industry, and got married, and settled down with a family. Both his business and his family were very important to him.

By 1890, John not only was the owner of the Denver-based John Mouat Lumber Company, but also was a contractor. John used his own sawed lumber from his mills to build over 200 buildings in Denver; turning it from a rough mining town with funky structures, into a respectable city with fine homes and buildings.

John built this fine mansion to reflect his accomplishments in wood production from his business; using his finest wood milled at his sawmills for the benefit of his family; wife and five children. Of course, there is a variety of wood seen throughout the mansion's rooms, featuring cherry, oak, poplar, sycamore, maple and walnut that was hand carved by gifted craftsmen.

Each room show-cased a different kind of wood chosen by John himself. The dining room had carved rosettes for its finishing touch, that depicted the different kinds of tree wood used in each room of the house.

As of 1915, the Mouats still lived in the family mansion. John Mouat died in San Diego, California, so at some point the Mouat family moved out. Perhaps the cold, Denver winters had gotten to be too much, and John and his wife decided to retire to sunny California. With all the children up and out with families and homes of their own, who could blame them?

The Mouat family sold their mansion to Hiram Fowler and his family, who lived there while the location was still a well-to-do neighborhood. Hiram Fowler had made his money from his mining business, and was known for his kindness to the neighborhood children. The ballroom was used every day as a children's playroom, and children loved to play with the Fowler daughter's lovely doll playhouse. Other children enjoyed flying a little plane around the space!

The Fowler Family was attached to this mansion, and wanted to find a way to keep it, though they probably should've sold it when the mansion's neighborhood was still considered a good one.

Various members of the Fowler family owned the mansion up until 1990, but stopped living in it at some point in time. Instead, they tried to turn it into a commercial property, raising income to support the mansion; with its growing list of things needing to be fixed.

Sometime in its history, the mansion became a business school for awhile. Then a very popular, commercial effort was put into play; providing housing for the public.

Unfortunately, like many grand mansions, the John Mouat/Hiram Fowler Mansion wound up being divided into 13 apartments, bringing in a lot more people to live there, which sped up the wear and tear on this lovely building. The mansion served as an apartment building, perhaps starting sometime in the 50's, if not earlier or perhaps later.

As the decades progressed, the neighborhood changed, and this grand old dame slipped into serious disrepair, as a poorer population moved into the fixer-upper opportunity homes and buildings. In the 60's, '70's, and '80s, a variety of people lived here; some not so careful, and some not so nice, resulting in some consequences that had some lasting effects.

The Fowler family became stuck with the mansion; not able to sell it at a reasonable price because of the ghetto-status of their neighborhood. Plus, using the mansion as an apartment complex wasn't profitable. Because they were not making much in rental income, they were also lax in putting in security measures that were badly needed for the safety of their tenants.

By 1970, the renters were paying only $96.00 a month to rent a small room. The mansion suffered further decline. By the late 80's, the John Mouat/ Fowler family mansion qualified as being a real fixer-upper opportunity with some severe issues, making it unacceptable for human habitation. Not surprisingly, it was condemned in 1990, when the redevelopment movement was in full swing in Denver.

Luckily, a very young Walter and Julie Keller fell in love with the mansion and rescued it from its date with the wrecking ball, probably to the relief of the Fowler and Mouat family descendants. The Kellers lovingly and painstakingly put the house back together as a single family home and restored it within a three year period, investing a boatload of money, time, perseverance and skill. They converted the basement apartments into one large apartment, and chose to live there themselves, having faith that the neighborhood was changing for the better, which it did.

After stabilizing and restoring the mansion, The Kellers filled the common areas with antique furniture, and added antique beds, bath tubs, showers, and dressers to the various guest rooms.

They replanted the gardens in the front and back and added statues and fountains and decor of the 1890 era outside as well.

Because a hundred + year old home always needs a hearty upkeep budget, the Kellers put their mansion to work to bolster this important fund. The Kellers started their bed and breakfast business; The Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens. They also made good use of their indoor and outdoor space by starting a wedding venue and event business as well.

The Kellers also started a stage theatre in their glorious, maple-floored ballroom, that was well-supported by the Denver community. The Kellers found that they loved producing plays as well as acting in them; more than running a bed and breakfast, and other people's special events.

By April of 2008, the Kellers had burned out on the bed and breakfast and special events businesses, and wanted to buy a bigger place for their theatre group. As of July of 2015, their beloved Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens was still for sale: $2,300,000. While they have stopped serving breakfast, you can still stay there.

While we didn't get breakfast or coffee, we appreciate the fact that we were able to stay at the Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens in a glorious room, before the mansion may be sold to a private individual or group. We also got to hear about the recent paranormal experience of an affable staff member who gave us a tour. As we were leaving, a couple who stayed in the very spirit-occupied Valentine Room told me about their experiences they had during their evening stay.

history of Manifestations:

People who love their home in this world, sometimes choose to spend their afterlife in this special place, or just visit often, especially if they had to or chose to move out, or lost it suddenly do to unexpected death.

(Hartford Twain House * Custer House * Frick House * Moss Mansion * Pittock Mansion Museum)


Past spirit owners also may have concerns about their property, due to past or present treatment of their property by the living.

(Bullock Hotel * Hearth Stone Historic House * The Hermitage * Hearthstone Historic House)

People who enjoyed working at a building, often like to visit, or keep doing their job, not letting the fact that they are in spirit form get in their way.

(Brumder Mansion; {Doug, Mike, Suzanne & Lorraine} * Hunt Morgan House; {Aunt Betty} * Brewery Arts Center; {Mason member, James Maar} * Stanley Hotel; {Mrs. Smith})

While The Lumber Baron Inn has long had a dedicated staff, Walter and Julie have apparently had another employee or perhaps two in spirit form; who perhaps worked for past owners or the business school, but are not on the Keller's payroll.

People who were violently killed at the hands of another person, sometimes are restless and aren't ready to leave this world. They are stuck; can't let go of the emotions of their brutal death, and want to stay to see and hope for justice. Sometimes such troubled spirit's choose to just continue on as if they were still alive in body form, not letting the fact that they are in spirit form stop them from having some sort of life in this world. These restless spirits yearn to accomplish their dreams, and mourn that they were ripped away from their life's desires. They may have regrets about their choices that led to their death.

Kahler Hotel; {Helen Bach} * Brumder Mansion; {young prostitute, Italian gambler, enforcer Joe} * Wabasha Street Caves; {3 gangsters} * Scarlet O'Hara Pub; {Mr. Colee} * Ashley's of Rockledge; {Ethel Allen}.

In 1970, a very pretty, free-spirited ceramic artist, and independent 16 year old, Kara Kanoch, dropped out of high school, and moved from the comfort of her Denver suburban home in Golden to get her own little space; all done with the consent of her parents. Her father, Richard, explained to a Denver Post crime reporter, Kirk Mitchell, who was writing an article on cold cases in Denver; October 11th, 2014.

Her father, Richard, shared; "She was independent as all get out. It got to the point where we felt, rightly or wrongly, that if we didn't allow her to do so, and not go along with it, and not stay on good terms with her, that she might possibly run away, and then we wouldn't know where she was."

She moved into the run-down Mouat/Fowler Mansion, now in a scary neighborhood, paying $48.00 dollars a month for a room with a roommate, that the present day owners, the Kellers, now call the Valentine Suite. The ballroom on the third floor was often the scene of wild drug parties, held by people you wouldn't want to meet in a dark alley, and perhaps lived in some of the other rooms in the building.

After going home again to celebrate her 17th birthday, on Sunday, October, 11th, 1970, Kara informed her family that she wanted to return to school and graduate. She planned to move out of her rented room in four days, and had found a job, thanks to the help of her father, who guided her to find a better living space to rent and a job to support herself. Kara was planning on going to art school after graduating high school to perfect her artistic abilities in clay.

Kara had had enough living in her dingy room at the Mouatt/ Fowler Mansion, and had learned her lesson in the realities of life. While her roommate was away in California, someone had broken into her room several times using a knife, and stole some of her possessions, worth 280 dollars.

One wonders why the owner at the time, J. H. Fowler, didn't screen his/her tenants better, put a stop to the wild parties in the ballroom, put in a dead-bolt in Kara's door, or try to put in better security. All of these things could of saved Kara's life, and the life of her friend, Marianne Weaver.

The last time Kara spoke to her mother and dad was the day after her Sunday birthday party. Early Monday evening, a violent man; {perhaps one of her fellow renters who knew she was temporarily alone, was moving out soon, and probably stole the stuff}, broke into Kara's room while she was there. Despite Kara's efforts to defend herself with a kitchen knife, he brutally raped her, and strangled her to death, stuffing her body under the bed.

Unfortunately, Marianne Weaver, mother of a small child, who lived with her parents in Lakewood while going to Arapahoe Community College, stopped by around 9 pm to visit her friend, Kara. Marianne walked into the murder scene while the killer rapist was still there. Marianne was shot in the head, execution-style, and left with her hands folded over her chest, trying to point the police in thinking that these killings were the result of a drug deal gone bad.

These two murders made quite a splash in Denver, and became the front page headline in The Denver Post on Oct. 13, 1970: “Teen Girls Found Slain in Denver Apartment.” This produced a lot of unwanted publicity for J. H. Fowler, who blamed Kara for her own death and that of her friend. Kara was a "hippie" and was the one with the wild drug parties; a lie that was not true at all.

Despite all the excuses and blaming the victim strategy, J. H. Fowler shared some of the blame for their deaths, and had to live with that on some level. The despicable killer has never been caught, and this is still an open, cold case. The number to call if you have any information on the killer: The Denver Police Department at 720-913-7867.

MANIFESTATIONS:

Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens is considered to be the most haunted place in Denver. Six regular spirits now call this mansion their earthly home or place to visit.

The female spirits of Kara Kenoche and Marianne Weaver.

Staff of the inn, former residents and visitors have actually seen a young female apparition in the Valentine Room, in the hallway and on the stairs.

These two spirits have also made their presence known when they are not visible, in their Valentine Room, on the central stairs and in the hallway that runs by their room.

We interviewed a young couple who stayed at Lumber Baron Inn the same night we did. They told me that they heard strange noises, felt unexplained cold spots and chills, and were a bit uncomfortable about it. It is always a bit scary when a person does realize for the first time that yes indeed, spirits are real. There is an unseen world around us.

As we came up the central stairs to our room, I felt slightly dizzy and tingly, the sign I get when spirits are present and watching.

According to Kirk Mitchell's cold case article in the Denver Post mentioned above, the owner, Walter Keller had an encounter with a spirit one night when he was in the hallway space between The Honeymoon Suite and The Valentine Suite, squatting down as he cut tile for a shower, in 1993.

Walter was interviewed by Denver Post reporter, El Ashanti Jefferson. He told her of his experience. Walter felt an unseen presence, standing over him, watching him work. When Walter turned around to see, no one was there, but he felt a frozen gust of wind which made the hairs on his neck stand up. There was no reasonable explanation for this frozen gust of wind.

An apparition of a black female maid-

She is dressed in a uniform or an earlier era, has been seen, going about her chores.

A male apparition - thought to be a family member of either the Mouat or Fowler Family, or a male servant of some standing. I think that it is most probably a teacher of the business school, still teaching.

This fellow has made himself visible, and has been heard talking in various rooms of the house.

An older, authoritative male apparition - Probably a former owner of this property, or perhaps a former administrator of the business school.

Has made visible appearances in front of the living, in the first floor common rooms, smoking his pipe. The living can smell the aroma of tobacco. Sometimes, just the aroma of tobacco can be noticed even if he chooses to be unseen, just to let the living know he is there.

A female apparition, sometimes dressed as a flapper - Perhaps a family member or friend of the family who loved the 1920s' parties.

This female apparition has been noticed and seen in the ballroom over the years.

The staff member who gave us a tour told us of his experience, while taking down the chairs after a play performance. He heard the sound of something moving in the back of the ballroom. Looking up, he saw a brief appearance of a woman in the back of the ballroom, walking through quickly. Thinking it was his wife, he went down to see why she was up in the ballroom. He found her down in the kitchen, and she hadn't been in the upstairs area. They were the only two left in the mansion.

Paranormal Findings:

EVP evidence / videos of other forms of communication have caught some serious evidence of their presences.

These spirits have made it plain to the living that they are here, as so many people have experienced their efforts to be made known and noticed.

Several paranormal groups have made contact with the two young murder victims, and through EVPs, have gotten the horrible tale of their murders, but not enough clues to catch the killer's name, until Spirit Paranormal did two investigations; one in 2011, and one on October 19th, 2012. At both, they captured the full name of the killer, said by multiple spirit voices. All the spirits who stay there chimed in to set the record straight, wanting this creep to be brought to justice. Knowing the name of this killer is a start, but finding the proof to convict is still something standing in the way of justice.

Spirit Paranormal reported it on their facebook page on October 20th, 2012; "Another unbelievable event at the Lumber Baron Inn last night folks. If I was not there to see this in person I would not have believed it. For the second straight year we received the same name of the killer from the unsolved 1970 double murder on the ITC device! The EXACT SAME NAME said multiple times by several different spirit voices!! It literally gave me the chills!! We also ran into several members of the cast of the TV show Ghost Detectives while we were coming in so it seems we are not the only ones trying to help solve this 40 year old cold case!"

still haunted?

A Big Yes Indeed!

The truth is slowly coming out, as it did in the murder of Helen Vorhees, the Brach candy heiress. Voices of all the spirits were recorded. Many people have had experiences staying and working there.

Sources Include:

The Ghost Hunter's Field Guide, By Rich Newman, Llewellyn Publications, 2011.

legendsofamerica.com

facebook.com


LumberBaron.com

blogs.denverpost.com

bizjournals.com

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