Class conjures photogenic spirits
MORRISON – In 1970, an intruder broke into a Denver mansion, raped and murdered a 17-year-old girl, then killed the girl’s friend. He crossed the second victim’s arms across her chest, signaling he didn’t mean to kill her too, but felt compelled when she walked in on the brutality. Police never found him.
According to certified paranormal investigators Beaux Blakemore and Dee Chandler, the 17-year-old victim still roams the Lumber Baron Inn in Denver as a ghost, appearing in photographs, and she’s not alone. Sometimes her friend appears. Other times, a maid strolls by, or a man, dressed in a turn-of-the-century suit, creaks up the staircase. Frequently, a snooty flapper dressed in green and holding a cigarette struts through the third-floor ballroom.
Blakemore and Chandler have caught a plethora of ghosts on film, and now they’re teaching others to do the same in a Ghosthunting 101 class.
While Chandler, a former attorney, always has been aware of the ghosts that surround her, Blakemore, a radio DJ and oil businessman, entered the partnership as a skeptic. After living in Chandler’s haunted quarters, the ghosts that played tricks on Chandler ultimately convinced Blakemore of their presence late one night by opening a closet door Chandler never used.
The couple began stalking cemeteries and historical buildings, snapping pictures of ghosts, which appear on film in the form of orbs, vortices, ectoplasmic mist or even faces, Blakemore and Chandler said.
They decided to lead walking tours after taking in voodoo, garden and ghost tours in New Orleans. Though they lived in Kansas, they researched Denver’s history, digging up plenty of Wild West stories to start a business.
They stepped into the business with the LoDo tour, a 1.5 mile walk, which traces true stories of Union Station ghosts, miners, cannibals, con men and haunted brothels. They added an uptown tour, pub crawls and Morrison ghost tours, but guests still wanted to learn more about lingering spirits.
In October 2000, after earning certification from the International Ghost Hunters Society, the pair began teaching the general public how to capture apparitions. On the 30th anniversary of the 17-year-old girl’s murder, the ghost-hunters invited the press to the Lumber Baron Inn to capture her on film. When reporters arrived and cameramen began unloading their equipment, Blakemore and Chandler began to regret the invitation; they had never actually taught anyone to capture ghosts on film and were unsure if there would be any proof of the spirits.
Then, as the press filled the non-smoking ballroom – the site of various Victorian social events – the smell of tobacco nearly choked them. In one reporter’s room, the smell of talc powder overwhelmed the guests, though the renter swore he never used such powder. When several people from the press walked into the kitchen, the refrigerator began to shake violently, and back in the ballroom, a couple people heard a woman’s voice, but no one had spoken. That night, the ghost-hunting pair knew they could open up a world of mystery to students.
In Ghosthunting 101, Blakemore and Chandler teach students how ghosts usually appear and how to capture them on film. They pass around an album of photos, filled with apparitions including Charlie, who lives at the Denver Press Club, a black cat in a window without a ledge, a woman’s image in a mirror and a convincing collection of orbs, vortices and mist.
They also talk about what keeps spirits earthbound, including choice, intense emotions, tragedies and malevolence. They recount their experiences with spirits, both friendly and dangerous, then turn the crowd loose to explore the three floors of the mansion on their own.
Beginner ghost hunters explore the 8,500-square-foot mansion, venturing alone or in groups into the ballroom, dining and living rooms, bathrooms and five suites, including the Valentine’s room, where the double homicide took place. Use of a pipefinder, or divining rod, may help guests locate the magnetic energy of the spirits inhabiting the inn. Guests click away, often aiming cameras around people’s heads, where orbs tend to congregate.
Those with digital cameras receive direct evidence (or lack) of the ghosts, and Blakemore and Chandler display the digital pictures they captured throughout the evening on a large screen after amateur ghost hunters congregate to share stories.
The pair introduces Ghosthunting 101 monthly in various haunted locations including the Lumber Baron Inn, the Denver Press Club and the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park. The next haunting takes place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Stanley Hotel. Tickets are $25, and credit card reservations are required. For more information, call (303) 987-1858 or (800) 275-8802.
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