Monday, March 15, 2010
world360 - Of all the hotels in Denver, the Oxford is the oldest and the most haunted. Reports of spectral visitations have mediums, ghost hunters, and hoards of the curious flocking to this historic structure in search of evidence and experiences from the wild beyond. Some may find what they seek, (or at least believe they do), and others may not, but the truth is ghosts of the past fill this anachronistic wonder and they are all around. No special skills or equipment are ever necessary to visit with the spirits, just a pair of eyes and an open mind.
Built in 1891 by partners Adolph Zang, Philip Feldhauser, and William MyGatt, the Frank E. Edbrooke, (also designer of the Brown Palace), design withstood the test of time. When the hotel first opened, rooms cost only $1.00, ($2.00 with a bath), and guests easily made the short walk from Union Station just one-half block away. Later, an annex was added, the interior was remodeled and the Cruise Room Bar was built. After 1945 and the end of World War II, train travel declined and so did the fortunes of the Oxford. The entire neighborhood also declined and did not re-surge until the early 1980's. Today, the Oxford stands as not only a living museum of Western Art, but also a portal into the past.
As visitors walk through the archway entrance, a transformation takes place. It becomes almost impossible not to feel the movement of days gone by and the passage of 117 years of guests coming and going. Just as beautiful, antique clockwork marks the passage of time, 19th century architecture makes the time stand still. It is easy to imagine when a fire maintained in the lobby fireplace warmed and welcomed guests. The ornate iron, the handcrafted wood and the precise tile still evoke the sense of luxury that was status in the days of Robber Barons, gilded cages and the Victorian ethic. A fine collection of oil paintings decorates the walls, antique furniture fills the halls and rooms, and various other forms of art from sculptures to artifacts are scattered just about everywhere one looks. Indeed, a stay at the Oxford is almost like staying in a museum as much as it is staying in a fine hotel. When it comes to décor, the Oxford has no equal. In fact, a few guests loved it so much, they refused to leave.
Reports of ghost visitations in Room 320 are the most prominent. I do not know what goes on in there. I tried to book the room, but there is a waiting list. If I were a ghost and every living soul wanted to sleep in my room, I would cause some ruckus too. There are also reports of ghost visits in the Ladies Room downstairs, but, if you ask me, that might well just be the ghosts of some 19th century adolescents still working through teenage angst. During my entire visit, I did not encounter one, visible ghost, or at least I do not think so. Instead, the entire hotel is a ghost from the past and maintains the spirit of everyone who ever stayed there. You feel it in the lobby, you feel it in the rooms, and you feel it as you wander the halls. There is no escaping the lure of the Oxford.
Are there ghosts at the Oxford? The mediums believe so, especially after a visit to the Cruise Room, and, after all, what self respecting ghost would not want to stay in a hotel so nice? If I were a ghost, that's where I'd book my eternal stay. Yet, if you are still of this world and still seeking contact with the past, the Oxford is a good place to start. Maybe that's why so many people keep finding excuses to keep on haunting the place and making it Denver's Oldest and Most Haunted Hotel.
Click for video
PARANORMAL INVESTIGATION: THE OXFORD HOTEL, DENVER, COLORADO
Enter Room 320 at your own risk!
Bridget Johnson blogged live during an investigation at the Oxford Hotel - 10/31/08
I'm blogging live tonight with the Colorado Paranormal Research and Investigations team from the site of what is reputed to be the most haunted room at Denver's Oxford Hotel. Check for updates beginning after 9 p.m., when we'll be set up and waiting for that darn guest who keeps ducking out on the room bill...
9:05 p.m. We're all getting ready for the watch! Room 320 is small, with an ornate little living room and the infamous bedroom in which a murder occurred way back when. More on that as our research team and history experts relate the story to the 10 guests assembled on the floor and the couch. "We have a good mix here," says a trio on the couch. "We have a total skeptic, a total believer, and somewhere in between."
* Intros have begun to a packed house, crammed in on cushions. Just introduced myself to the group. And historical expert is now telling the story of the Lizzie Borden murders and staying at the little ax-whacker's house.
* This room is known as the "murder room," he says. Historical expert Kevin Pharris, owner of Denver history tours, is now telling the story. Calls the Oxford the most haunted building in Denver. One of the guests, he notices, is clutching the hand of her date. He tells the group that if anyone needs a hug or chocolate, they've got both!
* Notes that the Oxford used to just be a men's hotel, dating back to 1891, and only had one ladies' room. It went out of business and fell into disrepair. It was fixed up and reopened. Things began happening, he says, after the renovation, not before.
* There's apparently a ghost in the hotel who watches women when they use the bathroom. Gnarly.
* However, there's also apparently a girl searching for her canary in the attic. The Oxford, by the way, isn't allowing the attic tours anymore. They don't want the reputation as the haunted hotel, apparently. Yeah, nobody has Google.
* Now they're talking about gruesome Market murder stories on the record in the, well, Rocky Mountain News! "They would have page after page of the most lurid details," Kevin says. Now we have page after page of Campaign 2008. Which is worse?
* Maggie of the paranormal research group is using a puck that throws out random words based off the ambient temperature while Kevin is telling stories of Denver's sensational past of prostitutes getting killed a la Jack the Ripper. And, of course, the sensational details that the Rocky delivered at the time!
* The schedule for tonight, by the way, is until midnight. In for the long haul! And yes, part of that will be in the dark.
* More of Denver's salacious history. One in three Denver hookers having an STD, men fooling around, men fooling around and getting robbed and murdered while they were fooling around.
* Back to Room 320, where we sit! There was a double murder in the original bed here. It's the only headboard in the hotel that has a poem carved into it. Kevin can't find proof of it in the papers, but says that doesn't necessary mean anything because Mayor Speer was totally corrupt and could pay to keep things covered up. Wife and a boyfriend caught by hubby. No historical evidence -- we don't know who they are.
* Most people checked into this room aren't told about the haunted history, and most of the time nothing happens. But when it does happen, it's always the same. Only men who are staying alone are affected. Kevin takes the group into the bedroom.
* It's happened to about 25-30 men. Man will be laying here on the bed, sleeping, waking to a ghost at the foot of the bed, cussing him out, telling him to get out because he was corrupting a wife. Apparently one male guest ran down in his boxers to the front desk. Kevin turns out the lights on the guests. Says another story is single men will also be awakened by bathroom light going on and off quickly. Feels bed depress on one side as guest feels someone lie down next to him.
* Maggie scans the spooky bedroom for baseline temperature readings, which will help in future comparisons:
* Now Maggie is talking to the group that's assembled in the living room again, getting ready to describe the equipment they use. First is a temperature reading device that sniffs out cold spots. Then a digital camera that allows for instant review of pictures. The gadget for the baseline temperature readings. Maggie notes that electromagnetic fields can often produce symptoms that make people think they're haunted, depending on their sensitivity. They use a K-2 meter to measure readings. Also has a Sony Handy cam with infrared; helps her see in the dark.
* The "paranormal puck" is described more in detail. It a laptop that a guy designed that incorporates temperature and EMF readings, etc., with the entire Websters dictionary. That and another paranormal reading device keeps spitting out the words Betty and Veronica. One of the guests just suggests that the ghost really like Archie.
* Maggie is now playing examples of EVP -- electronic voice phenomenon, voices picked up on recording when at other sites in the area. Some of the creepiest ones are from the Stanley Hotel. None of them, though, say "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy." :)
* Now comes time to try to get EVP readings here in the room. Maggie lets the Halloween ghost watching crew here listen to the recordings, watch the puck, monitor temp, and wander the bedroom with the infrared camera. now the lights are out and Maggie is asking questions of the alleged ghost to see if yes or no questions are answered.
* The electronic voice generated thing keeps spitting out the words "remember" and "smell." Remember the smell??
* Earlier in the evening, the blog file that I'd started at the office became hopelessly corrupted -- you'll see on the first post that I had to start a new file. Now Maggie's computer has gone into capture mode without anyone touching the screen. She asks said alleged ghost if it's the one who's been messing with his our computers.
* The electronic voice generated thing keeps saying sorry. Sorry he offed his wife, or sorry he screwed with my blog??
* Some of the names it's coming up with are Larry, Seth and Maddie. I Google these with denver and oxford hotel just to see if any historical records come up. Nada. Maggie's efforts to coax any ghost to show itself are unsuccessful. One guy volunteers to go lay on the bed. Probably just tired of sitting on the floor in our cramped living room quarters.
* No scream from the bedroom, which is over my shoulder. My laptop screen is the only light, along with Maggie's laptop. She now demonstrates another tool that she doesn't especially trust with its lack of scientific proof, which scans radio frequencies really fast to search for words or sentences. Maggie opines that there's too much room for human error.
* Nothing much yet. Maggie asks the crowd if the tools she using are a "little too much hack." She notes that ghost hunting stuff "is up to your own interpretation and beliefs." She notes how the puck can be open to interpretation when the human mind is searching for patterns and trying to come up with answers.
* The lights are back. Whew. If it wasn't spooky, at least I was tempted to take a nap. Maggie says they'll analyze the video and voice recordings in the next few days and see if there's anything there. I also recorded the night on my digital recorder, just for kicks.
* No guaranteed ghosts, the guests are told...
* The guests are getting ready to leave, but Shawn with Denver History Tours is going to stick it out for the whole night. Stay tuned... I'm going to wrap up with Maggie after everyone leaves and get her impressions.
* The girl who was manning the infrared camera said that at one point the screen went hazy without touching the focus.
* Maggie says the evening went well, especially letting people know how paranormal investigations really go, but she's looking forward to reviewing the evidence.
THE MORNING AFTER
After we left the hotel, Maggie and Shawn both agreed that they didn't get any sense of a haunting in the room. I agreed that nothing gave me the heebie jeebies, even when the lights were out and the infamous darkened bedroom was over my shoulder. I listened to the recording I made of the lights-out session and heard nothing remarkable.
A friend e-mailed me this morning asking, "So? Did you come away with any changed views, one way or the other?" Hey, this is the opinion section, so here goes: Being a Catholic, I'm not closed to the idea of the paranormal. But like the Vatican needs a boatload of evidence before approving an exorcism, I go in a skeptic waiting to be shown the evidence. Now, some of the recordings Maggie played from other sites, like the Stanley Hotel, were pretty convincing. But nothing yet from the admittedly creepy Oxford.
NOTE: I received a comment from a reader about a year ago who had stayed at the Oxford Hotel a few days after participating in an investigation at the Stanley Hotel. Her brief stay at the Oxford Hotel was, by far, the most frightening night she had ever experienced. She claimed to have heard voices of children and had her leg grabbed twice...Lon
Some Guests Loved Denver's Oldest Hotel....So, They Stayed