Like a lot of former gold rush towns in the state, Victor has plenty of ghost stories, especially at the Black Monarch Hotel.
For years, it sat empty. But locals would consistently report seeing a woman in the corner window that faced the intersection of Victor Avenue and 3rd Street.
“People on the street would see a woman standing with her arms up in the air, almost like she's parting the curtains in a V,” said Erin Barnes, the hotel’s publicist. “So they would call the police and the police would come and no one would be here.”
The ghostly window is now located in the Nikola Tesla room of the Black Monarch. Denver developer, Adam Zimmerli, bought the property in 2018 and renovated it while leaning into the haunted history and people’s fascination with what goes bump in the night.
Every room in the newly renovated hotel is themed mostly after serial killers, with the notable exception of the Tesla room.
Why the inventor and electrician? Well, rumor has it, he wired the original hotel and much of Victor when he was living nearby in Colorado Springs.
Before it was a hotel, the property housed a triple threat of a saloon-casino-brothel. Then in 1899, a fire leveled most of Victor, including the original structure. It was re-built by W.S. Sexton as “the finest gentlemen's club this side of the Mississippi” and named the Monarch.
Before it was abandoned, Barnes said it changed hands a couple of times, at one point becoming an art gallery. Now, it’s full of spooky paintings, skulls and suits of armor, and the design is black, black and more black (even the toilets).
Josiah Hesse, a Denver-based author, recently organized a “haunted writer’s retreat” at the hotel. He and 10 other writers spent a week at the Black Monarch (although not all of them chose to sleep there) to get inspired.
“This place has a lot of stories of hauntings and it definitely has a lot of history, but at the same time it's like a Disneyland ride,” he said. “It's just all so fun and almost touristy, but in a really smart and charming way. Nobody's going to be overwhelmed with fear to the point where they can't write or think.”
Hesse was staying in the Tesla room that week and experienced a couple of unexplained events, like the feeling of someone tapping his forehead in the middle of the night, or hearing a loud party happening downstairs after he went to bed.
“It was very brief, but a crowd of people, some laughing, glasses tinkling, a piano playing,” he said.
Barnes said that exact same story Hesse told gets reported about twice a month from guests who sleep in the Tesla room.
“Most people go to the window to see, 'Is there a party going on?'” she said. “All the times that this has happened, there’s been nobody there. And often the sound will just stop too when you go and look.”
There is one other room that’s chock full of extra-creepy decorations and reported hauntings: the Black Annis room. This room, complete with a suspended bed and faux animal hides, is themed after an old English legend about a forest- and cave-dwelling witch who would kidnap misbehaving children and eat them.
Sammy Moore, a poet at the haunted writer’s retreat, stayed in the Black Annis room. She said one night, the swaying of the suspended bed abruptly stopped.
“It was like someone grabbed it, but it wasn't scary,” she said. “And a few minutes later the ropes — there are four ropes anchoring it to the ceiling — and one of the ropes, it was like someone grabbed it and pulled it. I could see it move and it felt like whatever had stopped the bed originally didn't get the response that it wanted, so it upped the game a little bit.”
Owner Adam Zimmerli’s renovations will continue, with more spooky rooms to come. If you go, bring your sense of whimsy and be prepared to meet some unexpected hotel guests. That’s what Hesse and the rest of the writers did.
“Whether it's real or not, you know, proving that ghosts exist, is the supernatural real, that's not necessarily what we're up to,” Hesse said. “We're here to jack up our imaginations and explore all those different vivid corners of our minds.”
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