Legend says it was here, in his funeral parlor, where Pearl DeVere's sister, coming to collect Pearl's body, noted the dyed auburn hair and found out …
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Legend says it was here, in his funeral parlor, where Pearl
DeVere's sister, coming to collect Pearl's body, noted the dyed
auburn hair and found out her sister was no dressmaker but,
instead, employed as madame at the Old Homestead brothel. The
high-minded sister turned tail and caught the first train back
By By: Rob Carrigan
For years, Oscar Lampman took care of the dead in Cripple Creek.
And it is a wonder more ghost don't hover around 300 E. Bennett,
the one-time base of operation of the basement
"Cripple Creek can bury its own dead," editorialized The Cripple
Creek Times then. Indeed, and let he [or she] who is without sin,
cast the first stone.
It was here that gold mining magnate Sam Strong's body lay, with
much of his hard head blown away from a shotgun blast.
Countless other bodies, their owners whom suffered the violent
deaths of violent times, underwent embalming in the lower level of
Also for years, the Manhattan Barber Shop, with eight porcelain
tubs for baths, occupied the first floor, and you would think some
of the hanger-on, hang-around crowd would hang at such a popular
place - even in an afterlife.
But oddly enough, a comforting ghost apparently haunts the
premises of the old Fairley Bros. & Lampman Building.
A lilted voice, singing high in the scales and steeped in the
accent of the Emerald Isle, a faint wisp of rose-scented perfume,
the clackety-clack of old manual typewriter, are offered as
evidence of the presence of "Maggie."
Stories of Maggie have swirled at least since the
Noted Western artist Charles Frizzell, who ran an art gallery in
the building then, and Katherine Hartz, who had the Sarsaparilla
Saloon in the building beginning in 1968 and eventually purchased
it, both related stories for Chas S. Clifton's 1983 book, "Ghost
Tales of Cripple Creek."
"That was during the good old hippie days and a lot of people
coming through town would be looking for a place to 'crash' for the
night," Frizzell is quoted in Clifton's book.
But when the Frizzell's allowed visitors to stay in unused
portions of the upper two floors, ghostly commotion centered in
what used to be a ballroom on the third floor usually quickly drove
away "crashers" before a second night.
"At times, Frizzell says, mysterious blue lights danced down to
the second floor, the living quarters. He and his wife tried to
stop them by shutting the twin doors on the staircase, but someone
else seemed to want that door open," wrote Clifton.
He quotes Frizzell: "We would tie them shut with a twisted coat
hanger because we could not lock them. We could go downstairs in
the gallery and know there was no one upstairs, but we'd come back
and find the hangers untied and the doors open."
Hartz had an even more finite visit from Maggie.
Also from Clifton's book quoting Katherine Hartz: "I was walking
down the hall on the second floor. As I walked I heard sounds like
someone was upstairs with high heels on, walking above me. I
realized that in order to do so, whoever it was had to be walking
through the walls upstairs."
According to the account, when she investigated, she encountered
a woman in her late 20s or early 30s, tall, good-looking brunette,
with her hair in a "Gibson Girl" roll, wearing a white shirtwaist,
ankle-length dark brown print skirt and high-heeled
Later, in the 1970s, having trouble with small unexpected
electric bills and reports form police and nearby shop owners of
late night lighting of the upstairs rooms, the
Hartz expected to find evidence of squatters but found instead,
the building locked and undisturbed with electricity turned off at
the fuse box.
But even after the advent of gaming and the building's
conversion to Colorado Grande Casino, the sightings have
"Some have reported that singing and dancing is sometimes heard
emanating from the old ballroom, as well as the sounds of Maggie's
lilting soprano voice heard singing an Irish accented concertina,"
reports "Legends of America Newsletter" owner and editor Kathy
"At the casino, security guards have often reported
Maggie along with a gentleman friend playing the slot machines
after hours. She has also been caught on tape by the security
cameras. However, after being viewed and stowed away, the tapes
mysteriously vanished," reports Weiser.
Today, a café named in honor of Maggie resides in the building
along with the casino.
Over the many years, tenants in the building in addition to
those previously mentioned - included The Central Drug
Store on the northwest corner of the first floor. The upstairs
on the second floor was occupied mostly by professionals with five
attorneys and four doctors leasing space in 1902 and
"On the third floor, B.P.O.E. 316 - a very influential
organization in the city - had their meeting hall [the location of
the ballroom]. The Elks were pleased to lease this space, but they
were looking for a permanent home.
They found this in 1911 when the Elks purchased The Gold Mining
Exchange Building," according to "Cripple Creek: City of
Influence," a 1994 book by Brian Levine.
Perhaps Maggie, and other ghostly friends never noticed the
party had relocated.
Rob Carrigan is a third-generation Colorado native and publisher
of the Courier View and the Tribune. He can be reached by emailing
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