The Haunted Denver Public Library

Posted by junketseo in Denver Ghost Tours
The Haunted Denver Public Library - Photo

The pages of a book tell a story, one scribed by an author guiding heroes and villains to a satisfying, or at least logical, conclusion. Each chapter carries the reader through a timeline of events, unlike the spirits haunting some of America’s most haunted towns. These apparitions can be the narrative tools we follow to piece together events long past, be it the development of a seaside escape or perhaps even the construction of a public library. Maybe it’s a little on-the-hose to liken the stories of the deceased to the works you may find stored in a place like the Denver Public Library, particularly as we aim to turn the pages on the library’s own haunted history.


With 19th-century roots, Denver’s public library system has seen the Colorado city blossom from a smaller settlement of 30,000 people to a bustling metropolis of hundreds of thousands. Within that thriving population is a subset of people who didn’t live to see tomorrow, and among them, an even smaller group that found a home in stacks of the Denver Public Library.


Whether you’re looking for a good book or to establish a connection with the past, the library should be a stop during your time exploring haunted Denver.


What is the haunted history of the Denver Public Library?


When the haunting of the Denver Public Library began remains a mystery, just as much as who’s behind it. Could the spirit have been from one of the older branches, a residual attached to one of the many books stored in the basement? 


Discover more of Denver’s haunted tales and locations on a spine-chilling Denver ghost tour.


The 1,000 Books of the Denver Public Library


Generations before the central branch of the Denver Public Library was finished in 1995, several Denver citizens, including W. S. Cheesman and W. D. Todd, established the Denver Library Association in 1874. It’s said that by 1878, the duo amassed around 1,000 books into a collection, setting the foundation for what would become a much larger establishment years down the line. 


What was contained in those volumes was lost with time, but they remain one of the earliest ties to Denver’s founding in 1858. Could they hold the secret of the violent spirit that roams the basement of the Denver Public Library’s main branch? It’s a difficult mystery to solve, as the library underwent many iterations, and who’s to say what happened to the books that made up the original collection?

Denver’s Library System Grows


Cheesman and Todd may have established the Denver Public Library’s earliest incarnation, but librarian John Cotton Data opened the first location in 1889. A wing of the Denver High School hosted the collection of books, becoming a “center of public happiness.” This remained a hub for locals until 1910, when a Central Library building opened, the new Greacian-inspired architecture decorating Denver’s Civic Center Park. For the next decade, as Denver grew, so did the number of branches serving the public. 


By the 1980s, the library’s collection expanded beyond all eight branches and the central hub. So many volumes of books, historical references, and who knows what else were stored in the basement, which was inconvenient and mostly inaccessible to the public. Is this where the Denver Public Library’s ghost first manifested, trapped within the crowds of books hidden below the surface, as if shunned by society? 


Determining where the basement ghost of the core building came from seems impossible, especially as collections moved often as new branches were opened. The otherwise hidden books were removed from the basement. Wherever the manifestation stemmed, it has ties to at least one book that was moved into the current main branch, and it may have everything to do with the Western History Department and its vast collection that moved into the newly added Michael Graves addition in 1995.


The Protective Spirit of the Denver Public Library


Before digitizing thousands of documents, the Western History and Genealogy Department was a collection of over 200,000 books, 600,000 photos, and 3,700 manuscripts, all touched by a bit of Denver’s history. Moved into the public library system in the 1920s, the collection is a treasure trove of information about Denver’s past — and undoubtedly a bind for the often-violent apparition still festering within the main Denver Public Library basement. 


It’s possible that the spirit is there to protect the old volumes of historical information, as many have touted how aggressive it can get. The spirit is so violent, in fact, that it was said to have driven an employee from the grounds, resulting in them quitting. Some versions say it was a security guard checking on the collection in the basement, others a librarian who had a run-in with the specter.


It has no name and no origin—only a presence that has made the library’s basement an uncomfortable place for many. From shoving to blatant hitting, it can be a frightening encounter among the Denver Public Library’s underground volumes.

Denver’s Most Mysterious Haunt


So many apparitions and restless spirits that remain tied to haunted Denver have a verifiable story attached. Maybe they were the victim of a tragic accident or took their own life in a fit of sorrow. Not the Denver Public Library’s ethereal nuisance. It’s as pushy and aggressive as it is mysterious. Do you think you can tame the basement-dwelling ethereal figure haunting the Denver Public Library? 


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