The historic and Haunted......
Photo from the http://www.grosvenorarms.com website
SINCE 1931, DENVER RESIDENTS FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE HAVE CALLED THE
HISTORIC GROSVENOR ARMS APARTMENTS HOME
Author: Laura Watt
Denver Post Staff Writer
It anchors the corner of East 16th Avenue and Logan Street like a great battleship, its
bricks and stones built for heavy service, still seaworthy after nearly 75 years. Boilers
churning, brass-gated elevators rising and falling, the building harbors its secrets and
gathers fresh ones each time a new tenant moves in.
When they say they don't build them like they used to, this is what they mean.
Harry Potterish. Dakota-like. Even haunted.
The Grosvenor Arms Apartments opened for business in the fall of 1931. With its deep
flagstone courtyard, medieval gray stone walls and winged serpents guarding the Gothic
front door, coming here is like stepping into the past.
But it is very much in the present. Unlike many buildings of this vintage, the Grosvenor
has survived and thrived virtually intact, without falling into seediness or disrepute, its 106
units still spiffy, full of character and sought-after.
In a rental market where the vacancy rate runs upward of 13 percent, the Grosvenor's is
less than 5 percent, and its lobby and hallways teem with residents, many under 30.
"It's an extremely nice place to come home to," says 22-year-old Jesse Marks, a dancer
with the Colorado Ballet. "It's beautiful, it's old. It's a nice mix of downtown residents."
Laura Paisley, a 25-year-old occupational therapist who has decorated her apartment in
a spare, modern style, says the building felt like home to her when she moved in.
"I could tell that people were proud of this building," she says.
They were and are.
The reason The Grosvenor feels like home is because Louis Mack, the mogul who built it,
wanted it that way, and because his daughter, 90-year-old Barbara Mack McKay, has
insisted it stay that way. Although she has not lived in the building for years, she
maintains her apartment on the seventh floor and comes often to see
"This is a family affair. It's my heritage," says McKay, who visited the site with her father
every day when the building was going up. "My father felt people wanted privacy. That's
why he used the best materials. It was built to be their home."
When it opened, the "absolutely fireproof" building was touted as having "the very latest"
in modern conveniences: "The women folk will love the Eureka gas ranges" an article in
The Denver Post said at the time.
The Eureka ranges are long gone, but original tile remains in most bathrooms, and the
apartments retain the arched doorways, original woodwork, hardwood floors, telephone
nooks and glass doorknobs popular in the '30s.
Thick, solid walls keep the noise to a muffle. All of the apartments are either one-bedroom
or studios, so the Grosvenor was never for families with children. In fact, children were
banned at the beginning, though not now. Today, one teenager lives in the building.
"In the early days, you had to have references to get in," said Andrew Caron, who has
lived here with his wife for 30 years. "People were lawyers, doctors, professionals."
Current residents may skew toward high-tech office workers, but at least two denizens of
The Grosvenor seem to come from the mists of time.
Ghosts - The Man in the Mirror and The Woman Upstairs
"Who knows what secrets these old buildings have?" says Marshall Gregory, who has
lived at the Grosvenor for 10 years. "I do believe in ghosts. I don't discount (the stories) at
Gregory hasn't seen one, but others have. Janice Eldridge, who was resident manager at
The Grosvenor for several years, twice saw a tall, broad-shouldered man dressed in a
dark suit and fedora in one of the large mirrors that flank the lobby. He was looking at her.
"I said 'hello,"' she says.
Eldridge also felt the presence of an unseen young woman in the hallway outside the
eighth-floor laundry. "She had a very long skirt that would swish. Very elegant. I was
never scared. I never felt a menacing feeling. I always felt like they were protecting us."
Teresa Montano, a weekend manager, also saw the man in the mirror, heard silverware
banging in her kitchen sink in the middle of the night and once a very bright light flashed
between her and a friend in the elevator after the friend accidentally flicked off the
overhead light. And The Woman Upstairs?
"When your arms are full of laundry, she'll push the elevator button for you," Montano
The ancient Otis elevators, with their brass accordion doors, are notoriously fickle, often
skipping floors or stopping between them. Lots of residents have some tale about
something a little odd at The Grosvenor.
"I had a friend here leave for the weekend and when she came home her TV was on, on a
sports channel. And she never watches sports," says Neil Sarno, a 32-year-old engineer
for Douglas County. "And the storage units creep a lot of people out. There is definitely a
certain presence and a spirit here."
Ah, the storage units. Crypt-like, dimly lit, on the top floor, nobody likes going there,
especially alone. They're chilly even when it's hot.
Eight floors down, in the office where it's not spooky at all, property manager Dick Pfeifer
smiles gently when ghosts are mentioned. He's never seen anything supernatural, he
says, and he's been running things at The Grosvenor for 25 years.
"I take care of business," he says. "What's special about this place? See that door? It's
original. See that carpet there? It's in great shape."
It does seem a little strange, though, that when a visitor takes the elevator alone for the
first time, she pushes Five and it takes her up to Eight - the haunt of The Woman
Upstairs. The elevator pauses as if deciding, then eases back down and stops dead
between Three and Four.
Another firm push on the Five button, and the old Otis rises slowly, reluctantly, to its
Staff writer Laura Watt can be reached at 303-820-1483 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
333 E. 16th Ave.
Built 1928-1931, opened late 1931
106 apartments, all one-bedroom or studios
One-bedroom rents for $575 a month;
studios from $400. Cable, HBO, heat and
Modeled on: The Grosvenor House Hotel, London
Owner: primarily the Mack family
Original owner: Louis Mack
Architect: Walter Simon
Builders: Dutton & Kendall
Construction: Cement, brick and stone
SOURCE: Denver Post, The (CO)
January 30, 2005
Edition: SUN LIFESTYLES
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