Tim Kilgannon, co-owner of the Blake Street Vault, says he has felt paranormal activity at the bar. (Denver Post file photo )
I like stories of haunted bars. Don’t really know why. They just intrigue me.
The owners of this saloon report cold spots throughout the saloon and the “clicking of high-heeled shoes”.
Speaking of haunted watering holes, there is this bar in downtown Los Angeles (about 4 blocks away from my place) that is supposed to be an old bank vault turned bar. The Crocker Club, as it is now called, is said to have a “ghost bar”. It’s a section of the lounge that holds most of the paranormal activities.
Since my brother and brother-in-law are coming to watch the game (Go LAKERS!) tonight, I think I might make a stop at this place. Anyone care to join?
In a window above the entrance to the Blake Street Vault (1526 Blake St.), there’s a little tableau: A mannequin dressed as an Old West party girl sits facing the street, a bottle of Jack Daniel’s close at hand on the barrel next to her.
It’s a tribute to Lydia, the ghost that’s supposedly still hanging around in the bar nearly 150 years after it was built. The historic building has seen a lot since 1863, so it’s not too hard to believe there might be something left over from Denver’s dusty past.
The evidence is everywhere: In the basement, dark entrances lead to tunnels that long ago went under Blake Street, maybe to nearby brothels. The huge, ancient gears of the former freight elevator are still in one corner. During renovations, workers found century- old liquor bottles — one with bitters still inside — stashed all over the place.
So when bar manager Kyle Banks swears he’s seen Lydia out of the corner of his eye, and the hair stands up on his arms just talking about it, skepticism starts to seem a little silly.
It’s not that the bar is a cobweb-covered spookhouse. It’s actually a warmly lit, clean, pleasant space, with ’80s rock hits playing in the bar and Snoop Dogg chattering in the kitchen.
But unlike many joints in booze-friendly LoDo, the Blake Street Vault avoids slick, modern decor and themes in favor of an old-Denver feel: The bar tables are barrels, the ceilings are pressed tin, the floors are wood. They’re reminders of a rougher, harder time in what’s now Denver’s party neighborhood.
“After looking at all the restaurants down here, it seemed like no one really emphasized the historical aspects of those buildings,” says co-owner Tim Kilgannon. “We’re a true saloon.”
He says it took 19 months to renovate the building, which started as a saloon and boarding house and spent its most recent decades as a costume shop.
“It was just such a mess,” he says. “The previous owner bought it in 1973 for $10,000. . . . It was a nightmare to get it all up to code.”
It was during the renovation process that the building started to reveal its history. The old bottles showed up in nooks and crannies, the tunnels yawned and the building’s vault was discovered in the basement, obscured by brick and accessible only by a trapdoor.
Kilgannon says workers and visitors occasionally got strange, unpleasant feelings in the center of the main bar, including improbable gusts of ice-cold wind.
Even Kilgannon, who’s “not huge into the ghost stuff,” had a spooky experience. While in the basement with a building inspector, he — and the inspector — heard the sound of a woman’s high-heeled shoes clicking on the floor above them.
Except that the floor was still carpeted, and no one with high-heeled shoes was supposed to be in the building. Kilgannon ran upstairs and checked: Nobody there.
A group of ghost-hunters sniffed out the building, and the legend of Lydia was born. The investigators said the ghost that was knocking over glasses, appearing in the bar and generally freaking people out was the apparition of a saloon girl from the building’s early days named Lydia.
In the spirit of friendship, the colorful salute to Lydia went up in the front of the building. Banks says he greets Lydia now and again, and he’s pretty sure she likes the Blake Street Vault and the people who visit.
Drinkers enjoying themselves in the convivial main room likely have no inkling that Lydia might be lurking, but Banks offers a quick tour to those who ask. It’s more historically interesting than paranormally scary, at least until you get to the vault.
Step inside, and you’ll see it: There are scratch marks on the ceiling. More like claw marks, really. . . . Time for another drink. Upstairs.
Full source: DenverPost