The haunted & historic Lumber Baron Inn is for sale!
The John Mouat Mansion
2555 West 37th Avenue
Denver ~ In the Potter Highland Historic District
The Lumber Baron Inn and Gardens
A historic bed and breakfast in northwest Denver has been put on the market, with an asking price of $2.7 million.
The Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens is owned by Walt Keller. Nostalgic Homes is the selling agent.
The Lumber Baron Inn was built in 1890 at 2555 W. 37th St. Keller grew up in the neighborhood around the 8,500-square-foot
Queen Anne Victorian mansion. He purchased the property and began restoration work in 1991. The building had fallen into
disrepair when he purchased it; the mansion had been turned into a warren of 23 apartments.
Keller remodeled the mansion, turning former parlors and ballrooms into meeting spaces, and making room on the second floor for
five B&B suites.
The Lumber Baron Inn & Gardens was named after John Mouat, a Scottish immigrant who amassed a fortune in lumber back in
1890. Mouat was instrumental in Denver’s growth. He worked with top architects to build this 8.500 square foot home for his family in
Highlands – geographically and morally above Denver, a town of the wild west. His home featured cherry, oak, poplar, sycamore,
maple and walnut – all adorned with distinct carvings and ornate detail. The dining room woodwork boasts individually carved
rosettes of a variety of trees. Just as it does today, the third floor ballroom hosted social events under the elegant pyramid ceiling
and on top of the beautiful maple floor. And on the main floor, Amelia Mouat’s original kitchen has been updated into a full catering
kitchen capable of serving our overnight visitors and event guests.
Enjoy over 12,000 square feet in this exceptional Queen Ann Victorian, located in Northwest Denver's Potter Highland Historic
The renowned Lumber Baron Inn And Gardens currently operates as a Bed-and-Breakfast as well as a very popular Events Center.
The inn is a superb turreted three-story Queen Ann Victorian in the popular Potter Highlands Historic District of northwest Denver,
just a stone's throw from downtown.
The unique structure boasts over 12,000 finished square feet of superb luxury victorian finish, adorned in its entirely with Bradbury
and Bradbury ceiling paper and trim borders, suberb quarter-sawn oak woodwork, and includes five full suites with whirlpool baths, a
giant third floor ballroom, a commercial kitchen, and an additional spacious two-bedroom live quarters.
The captivating gardens create an inviting backdrop for the patio and pergola utilized for weddings, retreats, and other events.
Never fear the weather! The fabulous third-floor Ballroom can substitute for the gardens during inclimate weather.
The inn's PUD zoning allows for a wide variance of use. Capitalize on its current use as a bed-and-breakfast and events center, or
convert to a fabulous restaurant with offices above, or maybe redevelop the interior into condos, or how about living in it as an
stupendous single family home at an unbelievably modest price considering its size and finish quality. The sky's the limit!!!
Showings Will Be Limited To Buyers Who Provide Pre-qualification Credentials. Showings Will Take Place On Pre-established Days
Of The Week With A Guided Tour And Video Presentation Provided By The Owner And Caretaker. A Full Color Brochure Will Be
Provided With Property Details And Financials. Call Listor For Details.
Listing Price: $2,700,000
MLS Number: 588773
Number of Guest Rooms: 5
Number of Guest Room Baths: 8
Property Address: 2555 West 37th Avenue, Denver, CO 80211
Property Status: Currently is a B&B
Owners' Quarters: Yes
Year Built: 1890
Year of last renovation: 1994
Years run as B&B: 13
Square Footage: 12,260
Natl. Register of Historic Places: No
3737 W 32nd Ave.
Denver, CO 80211
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
(303) 570-9690 - Phone #
(303) 455-5535 - Office #
(303) 570-9690 - Cell #
(303) 477-4639 - Fax
Owner Walter Keller and his 6-year-old son, John, give a tour of the Lumber Baron Inn at 2555 W. 37th Ave.
The Valentine Room was where the bodies of Cara Knoche and Marianne Weaver were found in 1970.The house was
built by lumber baron John Mouat in 1890, thus the name of the bed and breakfast.
Johnny Keller walks down the creaky staircase. His mother once heard the stairs make noise and saw the steps move,
but no one was there. Johnny also shares his bedroom with a spirit he calls Nicey Nice Ghost because, 'Every
morning he says hello.'
Walter Keller was barely of legal drinking age on April Fool's Day 1991 when the newlywed sunk his heart and all his
money into a dilapidated north Denver mansion. Where neighbors saw a fright house with boarded-up windows,
drooping eaves, cracked paint, rotted wood and overgrown weeds, Keller envisioned a romantic bed and breakfast
filled with turn-of-the-century antiques.
Before opening the Lumber Baron Inn, the former teacher says he knew nothing about neighborhood lore that
dubbed his Victorian home haunted. "I knew there had been two murders here," says Keller, "but that's all."
Then, not long after move-in day, he watched from the porch as a group of preteens planted themselves on the
sidewalk and eyeballed him and his 10,000-square-foot house. "All of the sudden one of them ran up to the side of
the house, tapped the wall, then they all ran down the block screaming,"recalls the 34-year-old Keller, while seated in
the bed and breakfast on a claw-foot Empire love seat with angels carved into the mahogany.He named his inn after
Scottish timber mogul John Mouat, who built the house in 1890. Keller says the restoration has attracted historic-
preservation awards along with a parade of couples wishing to wed in the Lumber Baron's Victorian garden and sleep
in its neoclassical Honeymoon Suite.
Since snapping up the fixer-upper for $80,000 in 1991, Keller has invested more than a dozen times that amount
restoring the house to its original charm. That's why the homeowner was up late one night in 1993 cutting shower tiles
when he had an eerie encounter. Keller crouched just between the Honeymoon Suite and the Valentine Suite, where
crushed velvet adorned a king-size Indonesian wedding bed.The house was quiet, but something bothered him. "I just
felt something,"Keller says. "It was like someone was standing over me, watching. Then I'd look over my shoulder, and
no one was there."
The presence vanished in a frozen gust, and the hairs rose on his neck. Keller says it's no coincidence that the
encounter happened just outside the Valentine Suite. Thirty-three years ago, the room was the scene of a gruesome
A violent past
In 1970, Keller's dream home was a run-down apartment house. Cara Lee Knoche, a free-spirited 17-year-old with
flaxen hair and a bumpy nose like her dad's, had abandoned her suburban upbringing to live in a $48-a-month studio
there."I remember going up that stairwell,"says Jack Isenhart, head of security at Regis University and a former
Denver police detective. "It was dank and mysterious, and there was this pungent odor of marijuana."
Marianne Weaver, 18, often dropped by Knoche's apartment. The night of Monday, Oct. 12, 1970, the Arapahoe
Community College student left her Lakewood home intent on another visit. According to newspaper reports the
following day, a friend drove past Knoche's hangout pad in the middle of the night. He spotted Weaver's car and
found it odd that Knoche's apartment was dark.The man later told police that he parked his car and walked inside. He
found Knoche's door ajar. When the friend flicked on the light, he discovered Weaver with a bullet hole in the middle
of her forehead.
Her killer had positioned her body on Knoche's bed with arms crossed over her chest, vampire-style. Looking closer,
the witness spotted another arm sticking out from under the bed. Knoche had been stripped, strangled and packed
away like an empty suitcase.The witness fled the house and called police from an all-night diner on Federal
Boulevard. "There's something awful.There's two dead girls there,"he said. Police spent months interviewing
neighbors and friends of the victims.
"There were a lot of people in and out of there," says Isenhart, one of the first investigators on the scene 33 years ago.
"Remember, this was a time when people traveled the streets and were often taken in by friends. We had some good suspects, but
they never panned out. I think we even had one guy try to confess to the crime, but his story didn't fit." Police never uncovered a
murder weapon or a motive - something that haunts Isenhart to this today. "You just don't forget something like that, the way those
girls were murdered,"he says. "There's always been a mystique surrounding that house."
Now the unsolved murders are part of the Denver Police DNA Cold Case Project. Mitch Morrissey, chief deputy district
attorney in charge of the project and someone who's familiar with the Lumber Baron Inn killings, says Denver police
are reviewing cold cases using updated technology and FBI grant money. "I can't tell you any specifics because this is
still an open case," Morrissey says. "But generally what we look for in old homicides is hair, body fluids, fingernail
clippings or old clothing that might have blood on it."
The fact that the murders were never solved may be why the spirits of Cara Lee Knoche and Marianne Weaver are
restless, according to Dee Chandler, a certified paranormal investigator. Chandler co-founded the Mile High
Paranormal Society. She also has conducted haunted tours of Lower Downtown and is negotiating the rights to a
story about communicating with another Denver murder victim.The former attorney says Marianne Weaver is the
ghost who most often appears to people at the Lumber Baron Inn.
"The other girl (Knoche) was a runaway who had a lot of guests in and out of her apartment," Chandler says.
"But Marianne's death was unexpected. She was in college. She was a noted horsewoman. Now she's yelling out for her crime to be
solved."During the initial investigation, police suspected Weaver's murder was unplanned. Chandler agrees."When you pose
somebody the way she was laid out, it means 'I didn't mean to kill you, you just happened to witness this and I can't have a witness,"
So perhaps it was Weaver who brushed past Walter Keller in 1993, and who also appeared to Keller's ex-wife,
Maureen Welch, a couple of years later. Welch stayed up late waiting for guests to arrive. The woman sat alone in her
foyer, reading, just below a creaky stairwell. "Suddenly she heard someone coming downstairs," Keller says as he
guides a visitor through the house. He steps heavily to show the loose, whiny planks in his staircase. "When she
stood up and turned around, she could actually see the wood move, but no one was there."
On another occasion, the mother of a bride planning to wed at the Lumber Baron was arranging floral centerpieces in
the inn's fourth-story banquet hall. "Out of the corner of her eye she saw a young woman in a blue flapper dress
sitting on the window bench with a glass of champagne in her hand," Keller says while glancing around a turreted
sunroom just off the banquet hall. "When she walked back to say hello, she felt a cool blast of air, and there was no
one there. She literally ran down the stairs, screaming for me.
"Ghost hunt launches Tales like these prompted Chandler to conduct a ghost hunt at the Lumber Baron Inn three years ago. The
event, which she chronicles in "Ghosthunt: A Guide to Ghost Photography and Field Investigations"(Great Unpublished, $15),
happened on the 30th anniversary of the double homicide.That night, dozens of people poked around the house attempting to
capture spirits on film. Even the overnight guests were in the mood to be spooked. "I encourage cynicism," Chandler says.
"But everybody experienced something that night, and they all reported it individually."
Chandler could relate to their experiences. That night, she stood alone in the banquet hall when an invisible someone
whispered in her ear. She was also with a group of people in the kitchen when the refrigerator suddenly shifted back
and forth. While sensing a presence in one the guest bathrooms, Chandler snapped what she says is a photo of
Weaver's reflection in a mirror hung 8 feet off the floor.The ghost hunt convinced Chandler that the two murdered
girls are not the only spirits at the Lumber Baron Inn. "There's a black woman who was apparently a maid who died in
the house," she says. "The General stands on the second-story guarding the entrance, and the mischievous 1930s
flapper girl is usually upstairs." Both Chandler and Keller discovered the General after smelling pipe smoke throughout the house,
which is a nonsmoking facility. Other people reported smelling women's powder. Children are most in tune with ghosts, Chandler
says. Perhaps that's why Keller's 6-year-old son, Johnny, shares his bedroom with one. "Yes, yes. I see him every day,"says the first-
"I think he's a boy ... a teenager. He looks kind of gray. He has orange eyes and a yellow nose." Johnny calls this
spirit Nicey Nice Ghost because "Every morning he says hello."When the boy gets older, he may learn from his dad
that a police psychic also once walked through the basement where Johnny's room is now and insisted she felt a
presence there. Right now, Dad doesn't worry much about scaring his son. "What's fun is that even when we're
alone," Keller says, "we never feel alone."
SOURCE: The Denver Post--- Elana Jefferson
Invisible roomers never complain
Ghosts make themselves at home, say Lumber Baron Inn owners
October 19, 2003
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