FOREWORD

The Equitable Life Assurance Society of New York erected Denver's premier office building, using the design of prominent Boston architects who also planned the neighboring Boston Building. Andrews, Jacques & Rantoul gave it a floor plan like two "E's" placed back to back. This endowed the Equitable with distinctive light wells showering even the poorest paid secretary with sunshine and fresh air.

This nine-story edifice does not have a steel frame skeleton: the huge Pike's Peak granite blocks of the first two stories support the seven upper-story gray brick wells. Terra cotta banding helps separate the upper floors into successive horizontal wedding cake layers. This Italian Renaissance Revival edifice is further embellished with dentils, egg-and-dart molding, acanthus leaves and an ambitious cornice. The fifth floor Palladian window ad balcony is adorned with nude cherubs or amorini Italian: little loved ones) that may shock anyone looking up.

The fireproof construction was a collaboration between the architects and local firms: the Denver Terra Cotta Company and the Golden Pressed & Fire Brick Company with wood work by McPhee & McGinnity. In the sanctuary-like interior, the buttery-yellow marble wainscoting is complimented by the marble mosaic tiles in Byzantine motifs on the vaulted ceilings. Marble from France, Italy, Vermont and Tennessee enhance the interior, with a particularly notable, almost translucent Sienna marble reception desk and stairway walls. This marble lobby is illuminated by a tripartite, transomed Tiffany window at the southwest end and elegant chandeliers. A grand bronze stairway leads to a landing with a spectacular Tiffany stained glass window, "The Genius of Insurance" in which the Equitable Company, represented by Minerva, the Greek goddess of protection, comforts a bereft widow and orphan.

Easily the finest office building in town, the Equitable housed the Colorado's governor's office until Governor Davis H. Waite moved to the State Capitol Building in 1894. The city's leading law firms, the First National Bank of Denver and the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad all moved in shortly after the building's 1893 grand opening. By the 1920, the leading stockbrokers nested here and the town's wheelers and dealers came to watch the Equitable Buildings' ticker tape.

This well-maintained landmark has been overshadowed, but not outclassed, by the many new skyscrapers of the 17th Street financial district. An extensive exterior restoration project is underway via a generous matching grant from the History Colorado's State Historic Fund through a partnership with Historic Denver, Inc. The Equitable Building is well on her way to sparkling again as the Queen of Seventeenth Street, the Wall Street of the Rockies.

Here you will find the Equitable's long, remarkable and sometimes creepy story told for the first time by Kathleen Barlow, a CU-Denver graduate student and King Fellow who has undertaken the first of what we hope will be a series of commissioned building biographies by able students such as Kathleen. The Equitable Building's Board of Directors and Elizabeth Caswell Dyer, building manager, commissioned this study and made it possible by sharing their many records, knowledge, stories and contacts. Having fallen under the spell of this loveable, fantastic giant, they wanted more of us to know of its fascinating past.

---Thomas J. Noel Prof. of History, University of Colorado Denver Co-Director of the Center for Colorado and the West At Auraria Library

THE SETTING

"If God is in the details," architectural critic Mary Voltz Chandler wrote of Denver's grand old office building, "the Equitable is celestial." As you walk into the Equitable Building for the first time, prepare to be astonished. This monument to the vast ambitions of Denver and the wealth of the Equitable Life Assurance Company of the United States is still stunningly opulent. Visitors and employees are greeted with marble surfaces, mosaic tiled ceilings, Tiffany stained-glass windows and a sweeping grand staircase.

Children touring the building marvel at the intricate brass detailing throughout the building. The National Register landmark is also an anchor of the Denver Landmark Preservation Commission's Downtown Historic District. Currently, it houses a wide range of businesses, Offices, a bank, and retail outlets keep the building buzzing with activity on a daily basis. Yet reminders of the past constantly surround tenants in many ways. Not only is the building a magnificent physical reminder of Denver's past, many say the Equitable building is home to spiritual souvenirs of the building's occupants.

The history of the Equitable Building mirrors that of Denver itself: Its home at the corner of Seventeenth Street and Stout has long been the heart of Denver's central business district. When completed in 1892, this landmark represented a step towards sophistication and prominence, which many people felt Denver lacked.

From the beginning, many boosters believed that Denver was destined to be the commercial hub of the Rocky Mountain region. To help Denver on its path, promoters employed many tactics to attract Eastern companies' investment dollars. In a particularly imaginative endeavor, William Newton Byers, founding editor of the Rocky Mountain News attempted to entice eastern investors to the infant city by claiming that Denver would become the "steamboat hub of the Rockies" and announced the departure of several ships "laden with passengers and freight." While this particular draw to Denver did not pan out for investors, many enterprising businessmen and women did find lucrative business opportunities. General stores, hotels, saloons, and newspapers all sprung up to support the mushrooming metropolis. Although many Colorado communities were destined to become ghost towns, Denver defied dicey odds. It boomed as the city's overblown claims of navigable waterways and potato-sized gold nuggets were replaced by more realistic business opportunities.

After the original boom, Denver lost population and business when the transcontinental railroad bypassed it for Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory. Leading Denver businessmen pitched in to save the city by founding their own hometown railroad, the Denver Pacific, which was completed in 1870. After that, the Kansas Pacific, the Colorado Central and other railroads also soon steamed into town. With the arrival of the railroads, miners were able to more effectively get their precious metal ores to smelters across the country. The mining bonanza brought pay dirt to Denver as well as the wealth that gave the city its finest office building.

Nathaniel P. Hill, a chemistry professor from Brown University, introduced Colorado to more effective smelting techniques to extract gold, silver and other precious metals from Rocky Mountain ores. Hill studied smelting techniques in the United States and Europe and established the Boston and Colorado Smelter in Black Hawk in 1868. This made him one of Colorado's richest tycoons. During his tenure at Brown University, Hill met a promising young student named Henry Wolcott to whom he offered a position at his smelter. Wolcott's success with the Boston and Colorado Smelter served him well and the clean-shaven Massachusetts-born Yankee quickly moved into Denver's business elite. During the 1870s Wolcott served on the board of directors for the Equitable Life Assurance Society in New York. He often advised the Equitable president, Henry Hyde, on mining investments in Colorado, Arizona, and Nicaragua. Using his expansive business knowledge and connections, Wolcott influenced Hyde to establish a Denver office for the Equitable Life Assurance Company to serve the Rocky Mountain region.

Wilcott's triumph in bringing the Equitable to Denver was heralded as a turning point for the Mile High City. The Denver Republic proclaimed, "With this great investment here, the capitalists of the East will feel confident in the stability of Denver's growth. They will not fear to invest money...they will buy lots, they will erect houses, and they will build manufactories." This luxurious office building, boosters bragged, would prove Denver had shed its mining camp and cow town image. Scientific American ran a cover story describing the building as "the finest and most costly west of the Mississippi." Wolcott and Hyde commissioned the distinguished Boston architectural firm of Andrews, Jacques, and Rantoul to design the building. The Equitable Society's decision to hire the firm demonstrated that Eastern wealth and prestige had come to Denver. An 1892 pamphlet extolling the virtues of the building maintained that it spearheaded transformation of Seventeenth Street into "the Wall Street of Denver." In 1890, The Denver Republican argued that the city would reap great benefits from having a grand building such as the Equitable:

Besides being an ornament to the city, it will have a great tendency to enhance the value of property all along upper Seventeenth and Sixteenth Streets…Denver wants and needs the building. It will be a considerable acquisition for its influence in the East as this company owns no buildings west of the Mississippi river, this being their first move towards the great West. It is a practical illustration of the much-talked-of confidence of Eastern people in Denver."

A promotional brochure for the building elaborated that the Equitable would be the crown jewel in an inspirational Western setting where "The same passionate love of the beautiful which sends myriads every year to Italy and the Swiss Alps is sending myriads to Denver-the gateway of the glorious mountain-land of the great American continent. …Alpine travel on the land from Denver to the Golden Gate City is in its infancy, and its developments cannot be foreseen"

Once the Equitable Life Assurance Society decided to construct the building on the corner of Seventeenth and Stout, it strove to architecturally portray a sense of security, stability and class in an unstable, boom and bust region. The architects chose the Italian Renaissance Revival style to portray permanence and reliability-a theme echoed throughout the building's décor. The designers used a pinkish-grey Colorado granite, masonry and terra cotta to construct the nine-story building. The promotional material likened the façade to a Byzantine fortification and asserted the balustrading along the rooflines "will give the most artistic and poetic effects against the peerless Denver sky." Indeed the writers argued that the building is "the very spirit of mountain formation worked into an architectural formula." The architects also designed the interior to speak to a sense of security and confidence. The large Tiffany windows on the grand staircase show a scene entitled "The Genius of Insurance" in which Minerva, the Greek goddess of protection, comforts a bereft widow and orphan. Classical terra cotta designs decorate the façade.

The 1892 promotional pamphlet proclaimed; "The Equitable Building is the most advanced structure of the advanced class, and if not absolutely the type which has been sought, is very close to it." Denver commentators extolled the building as being of the best design with a then novel steel frame skeleton beneath its granite exterior. The builders incorporated every fire-safety precaution and state-of-the-art plumbing and electrical conveniences. The building included eight hydraulic elevators, fireplaces with gas logs, and most rooms with "wash closets, supplied with hot and cold water." The structure could also boast eight rapid elevators run with hydraulics. Once the building was complete, it and the Brown Palace Hotel, also completed in 1892 and nine stories tall, would crown the Denver skyline until the 1911 construction of the Daniels and Fisher Tower. The building was so tall that in 1894, researchers performed a "remarkable feat of heliographic signaling" from the Equitable roof. They used mirrors to send messages to and from the top of Pikes Peak, which is about sixty miles from the Equitable Building. The researchers claimed; "The flashes of the mirrors on Pikes Peak could be distinctly seen by the naked eye during the transmission of the message."

Even with these state-of the art technologies, the building did not escape criticism. In 1910, Magistrate and future Denver Mayor, Benjamin F. Stapleton fined the owners fifty dollars for not having a fire escape as Denver ordinances required on buildings over two stories high. The city attorney argued the structure was not entirely fireproof while the Denver Daily Times reported: "James H. Brown, the attorney for the company, will appeal the case. Brown's argument was that the Equitable Building is fireproof and the iron stairway on the interior was an ample escape in case of fire".

Although the fireproof qualities of the building were disputed, no one doubted that the Equitable was the most luxurious office building in Denver. The Equitable Life Assurance Company of New York built the Equitable as its regional office as well as an investment in Denver's growing real estate market. Furthermore, "the city's premier office building provided an elegant environment for white-collar workers distancing themselves from the grimy smelters and factories where most Denverites labored." The businesses and individuals housed in the building during the first few years read like a who's-who of Denver during the 1890s. Lawyers, politicians, and businessmen all officed in the Equitable. In 1893 and 1894, as the State Capitol was being built, the Equitable served as the executive offices for the Colorado state government. David Moffat relocated the First National Bank of Denver into the building in 1896. The city's top law firms moved in and the fifth floor became the region's largest law library. Mary Lathrop, one of the first two women admitted to the American Bar Association, also made her office in the Equitable. Other prominent tenants included Henry Wolcott's brother, Edward, a U.S. Senator from Colorado along with Colorado Governor Julius Gunther. The Denver & Rio Grande as well as the Colorado Department of the U,.S. Army had their offices in the building.

Although the structure opened to great acclaim, the silver crash of 1893 soon caused the opulent building to be labeled as a folly. Property values declined after the crash and Equitable rents did not climb back up to pre-crash prices until 1902. In 1908, William Barth, the president of the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, purchased the Equitable Building for $1,330,000. Upon his death in 1926, Barth's heirs sold the building to Otis & Co., who in turn sold the building to two Denver businessmen, Oscar Malo and Raymond Sargent. The amount of the transaction was undisclosed but said to be over two million dollars. The two men formed the Equitable Building Company to own and manage the property. The new company was short-lived. The Great Depression caused another bust cycle for Denver and the Equitable Building. Malo and Sargent defaulted on a $50,000 loan in 1934 and the structure went into foreclosure.

Charlotte Barth Howell, granddaughter of the previous owner William Barth, purchased the building for the bargain price of $950,000. She owned the building until 1956 when she sold it for $2.5 million to a business group headed by Jess Kortz, a leading Denver jeweler. The building changed hands again in 1962 and 1968, both times for around $2.5 million. Garrett-Broomfield & Co. sold it in 1977 to Canadian-based Urban Holdings, Inc. who restored the building to its 1893 grandeur and had it designated an official Denver Landmark in 1977 and placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978. In 1980, the Equitable building was treated to a $2 million renovation that installed central air conditioning, restored the exterior and replaced the original revolving doors, which had been removed in 1902. The ext year the building boasted 100 percent occupancy with a waiting list. During the 1980s the building went through several owners before MONY became the sole owner in 1988. MONY invested another $2 million to upgrade safety systems, replace the roof, and upgrade the lighting.

In October of 2000, Denver's St. Charles Town Company purchased the building and began converting the structure to office condominiums. In the first year, the St. Charles Town Company spent about $5.5 million to "polish" the building. St. Charles Town founder and CEO, Charles Woolley II, a former director of the Four Mile House Museum, Denver's oldest surviving structure, took a special interest in making the Equitable shine as a first class restoration.

There is much more to the Equitable than spectacular restoration and fantastic architecture. Beneath the glitter lies a storied history. Not only was the Equitable home to many of Denver's elite, but also to many of Denver's most scandalous crimes and mysterious accidents. Rocky Mountain News architectural critic Mary Chandler wrote of the Equitable Building; "A good building will surprise, revealing new aspects no matter how often you study them." This is especially true of the Equitable, which yields more than a few skeletons from its closets!

"A REVOLTING STORY OF SOCIAL NASTINESS AND MURDER"

Before the Equitable was constructed, the site hosted a "revolting story of social nastiness and murder" which involved "seduction, alleged rape, adultery, blackmail, and double murder." The trouble began when Charles Stickney and his wife, Henrietta Nina, moved from Chicago to Denver. Stickney, a tall, well-formed man with a neat, business-like appearance, had graduated from Harvard University. He and Henrietta, a plump and pretty twenty-five year old, moved to Denver in 1880 in hopes that Stickney would find employment as a teacher. After his search yielded no results, he left his wife with enough support to be comfortable in Denver and headed up to the mountains to seek his fortune as a silver prospector. What happened next raised eyebrows. The Aspen Weekly Times reported that:

. . . Sometime in July Mrs. Stickney met Mr. Campau. Just how the meeting between Mr. Campau and the wife of the teacher came about is not known, probably by 'chance, the usual way'. Their acquaintance progressed so rapidly that one day in August, Campau proposed a carriage ride. Mrs. Stickney accepted and under the warm summer sun they started their drive. What happened after the carriage ride may be known by the story as told afterward in court by Mr. Stickney . . .Upon his return he found his wife taking some peculiar medicine. His suspicions were aroused and when he questioned his wife closely she began to weep . . . and made the startling confession that she had agreed to accompany Mr. Campau on a buggy ride and despite her protestations he drove beyond the city limits and there, by persuasion and force, seduced her.

According to the Denver Republican "upon Stickney's return his wife confessed her departure from virtue and confessed her ardent love for Montgomery Campau. The scene that followed was tragic in the extreme and ended in the wife's forgiveness. . . to salve Stickney's wounded honor, Campau promised him $10,000. The payoff was to be delivered as a portfolio of real estate and seven $1,000 notes payable in six-month intervals. According to the Aspen Weekly Times, both men agreed to this arrangement and the deeds to the property and the notes were deposited in the First National Bank of Denver. This differs from the claim of the Denver Republican and Leadville Democrat that Stickney sought to blackmail Campau and feigned interest in some real estate. When Campau drove Stickney to see the proposed lot, Stickney "drew a huge bowie knife and …informed Campau that he must do one of two things, pay him $100,000 dollars or die. Campau was young and healthy and preferred life to money. He negotiated a compromise of $10,000." Both accounts agree that Mr. and Mrs. Stickney returned to Illinois for the winter. When they returned to Denver, Campau failed to pay up. Stickney took him to court where Campau was exonerated and Stickney was forced to pay Campau $100 and court fees. After the ruling, Mrs. Stickney took their three-year-old daughter and left her husband saying, "Most likely I will go to California. I may not. It would be useless for you to track me." Outraged, Stickney did seek out Campau to kill him - the first known murder on the Equitable site.

The sordid Stickney saga continued at the corner of Seventeenth and Stout. In 1881 a boarding house owned by Mr. Vernal was at the site and was the scene of a double murder that would fascinate Denver for over a year. Ironically the crime scene had been originally constructed as the parsonage for the adjacent First Presbyterian Church. On June 3, 1881, Vernal was serving dinner to his guests when Charles Stickney walked into the boarding house. He opened fire, killing Montgomery Campau. A stray bullet killed another boarder, Mrs. H.O. Devereux, a twenty-three year-old. Her husband, who witnessed the murder and, was overcome with grief at losing his bride of three-months, "broke down under his grief… he broke free of those who were kindly caring for him and ran madly into the street. Officer Fincke caught him and led him back to his boarding house."

The trial commenced the following year and, for almost the entire month of February, monopolized the front page of Rocky Mountain News and other papers. The News asserted that "Nearly all jurors have read of the killing" and "interest in the trial continues to grow." A standing room only crowd jammed the courtroom for the trial. The Rocky Mountain News reporter noted:

The observer who would look the crowd over with a view of judging the city's population from the faces to be seen would, however, be sadly deceived if he came to the conclusion that he had seen an average representation of the citizens. The lower classes predominated. Many of the faces looking as though they would make valuable contributions to a museum of curiosities.

The trial attracted national coverage with even the New York Times reporting the outcome. Charles Stickney was found not guilty-by reason of insanity.

EXPLOSIONS AND NEAR MISSES

Few associated the corner of Seventeenth Street and Stout Street with the gruesome murder as the grand Equitable Building arose from the site. It became the haunt of Denver's most prominent personalities and the halls of the building soon echoed with talk of the city's important issues. Soon after the Equitable's opening, well known doctors, J.T. Eskridge and Eugene Grissom moved their offices into the building. In 1893, Dr. Grissom had testified in the trial of Anton Woode, an eleven-year-old boy from Brighton, Colorado, who killed a hunter in order to steal his watch and reportedly felt no remorse. Doctors and laypeople hotly debated whether an eleven-year-old could fully comprehend and be held responsible for murder. The case itself was widely followed in the press. In particular, Judge Benjamin B. Lindsey, founder of Denver's Juvenile Court, used the case as an example of how poverty and negligence drove young people like Woode to crime. Dr. Eskridge disagreed with Grissom and their discussion devolved into a physical confrontation. In an understatement, the Greeley Tribune noted, "The case has excited unusual interest in medical circles." Woode was eventually found guilty of Second-Degree murder and served his sentence in Ca?on City before he was pardoned in 1906.

Not all brawls were over current events. Another newsworthy scuffle erupted several years later when Martha Ewart, owner of the Vaille, a rooming house, attempted to kill Joseph Kitteredge Choate in his lawyer's office on the fourth floor of the Equitable. Choate was the nephew of the U.S. ambassador to Great Britain as well as the President of the Denver Cotton Mills Company. Choate's lawyer, J.F. Vaile of the law firm of Wolcott & Vaille, argued that his client Ewart's actions stemmed from an alleged broken-engagement. Choate, however, "denied any engagement and has never admitted any liability to Mrs. Ewart…Mr. Choate's course throughout has been generous and honorable." When Ewart became violent, Vaile wrestled the gun from Ewart saving his client and earning some more billable hours as Ewart was taken to prison.

Sometimes the building's much-touted technology led to accidents. One of the eight rapid elevators encountered a glitch in 1911, causing serious injury to Frederick Wright. He was on the way to his fourth-floor office when, as he was stepping out of the elevator, "the elevator alighted. Flung high in the air, the attorney fell heartily to the tiled floor and lay unconscious. Many rushed to his assistance and, until the arrival of a physician, he was believed to be dead." Such episodes added to the awe, even fear, with which some approached the building's modern conveniences.

Even though heralded as being as "absolutely fire-proof as modern science can render it," the Equitable suffered a fire in the 1930s. It appears the magistrate and fire marshal had cause to be concerned when they had fined the owners of the building in 1910. A fire, "most likely caused by a carelessly thrown cigarette," caused $50,000 dollars worth of damage to the building including one of the law libraries. Bessie Ford, the night elevator pilot, became the hero after the fire broke. "Sticking to her post, Mrs. Ford hauled firemen up and down the smoke-filled building until she was almost overcome. She used a flashlight to find the various floors. She was advised by the firemen several times to leave the building for air, but declined." Although the building sustained substantial damage, no one was injured or killed.

The Equitable was also the setting for one of the most notorious robbery attempts in Denver history. Mrs. Genevieve Chandler Phipps, former wife of former Senator Lawrence Phipps, was being driven around City Park when a woman who was "apparently cultured, well educated, and possessed refinement" stopped her. The woman revealed two sticks of dynamite and demanded $10,000. Mrs. Phipps, her nine-year old daughter, a chauffeur, and a maid were all held captive and ordered to drive to the First National Bank to obtain the money. The chauffeur took them to the bank where Mrs. Phipps rushed inside the Equitable and alerted the staff to her situation. They in turn called the police. When the woman noticed two police officers walking towards the car, she threw the sticks of dynamite at them. Luckily, the dynamite did not explode and the woman was arrested.

DEATHS: ACCIDENTAL AND OTHERWISE

The Equitable played host to accidents and crimes as well as the occasional death. After the killings of Montgomery Campau and Mrs. H.O. Devereux, one S.R. Coleman, a purchasing Agent for Colorado Fuel and Gas, "dropped dead in the Equitable building" on April 30, 1898. Presumably, he died of natural causes.

Another tragedy struck on January 14, 1902, when janitor Andrew G. Anderson fell from the ninth floor while washing windows. Shocked onlookers: "watch[ed]the movement of the janitor in his hazardous and lofty position…[and saw] the janitor was seen to swerve to one side, followed by a backward movement. Before the horrified witnesses could gather their wits, the broken ends of the rope could be seen flying through the air at the same time the janitor being precipitated to his doom…[Three engineers] were working in the basement constructing a pump for an artesian well when they heard a thud above them followed by a crash and fall of glass. Before any of the terrified workmen could raise their eyes, Anderson struck the pump with such tremendous force as to break some of the ironwork.

Anderson left behind a three-year-old son whose mother had died the year before of "blood poisoning." According to the Denver Daily Times those who saw the accident "spoke of little else for weeks" and the paper reported "all of the janitors of the building are reckless and daring. This has lead dozens of people to watch the men daily when they are cleaning their windows and going through their perilous altitudes."

Not all Equitable deaths were accidental. In 1895, Denver was once again gripped by the sordid details of the love-triangle murder. William Peck and George Kroening worked in the same office of the Equitable building and were considered to be friends. However, when Peck discovered Kroening was having an illicit affair with his wife, he shot Kroening in the chest four times, killing him. The subsequent trial intrigued Denver, and Peck garnered much sympathy when he described "the crime against himself and his three-year-old son." Indeed the Boulder Daily Camera reported, "Peck's story was so full of pathos as to bring tears to the eyes of many women in the courtroom." When Peck was found innocent of murder, the New Castle News heartily agreed with the ruling saying, "The verdict was a proper one and on every hand meets with approval. Death without the benefit of clergy is good enough for a seducer."

A HAUNTING PRESENCE

Some tell of ghostly specters haunting the ornate halls of the Equitable. Could they be the spirits of Andrew Anderson, the janitor who fell to his death in 1902? Or perhaps S.R. Colman who died suddenly and mysteriously in his office. Ask those that know the building and the stories start to spill out.

Tenants report ghostly happenings. Some have smelled Bay Rum or Burma aftershave in certain areas of the building. The ill-fated window washer, Andrew Anderson, is generally thought to be the source of these occurrences. Building Manager, Elizabeth Caswell Dyer, refers to Andrew Anderson as the building's most prevalent ghost. She's reported walking into areas, usually the second floor hallway, and a portion of it smells like men's cologne. "It's a lovely, masculine cologne or aftershave smell, and there's not another soul around to attribute the phenomenon." The area of the phenomenon is relatively small, about three feet in diameter and the smell will sometimes move to a different area in the hallway. "I'll walk back to my office from my errand and in just a few minutes the smell will have relocated to a different section of the hallway." The former property manager, Elizabeth Johnson related another Andrew tale that happened to a friend: "she was working on the ninth floor late at night, and felt the temperature in her cubicle drop. The smell of Bay Rum aftershave filled the air. She never felt threatened and was comforted that someone was watching over her."

A night-shift security guard told Elizabeth Johnson a similar story. While making her founds, especially on the 9th floor, the guard saw doorknobs turning and felt cold air creep through the hallways. She too suspected Andrew, the window washer. Elizabeth Caswell Dyer regards Andrew as a caring presence. She says "He's really a protector of the building."

Not all of the spirits are as benign as Andrew Anderson. According to several tenants the basement is a hotbed of activity for the ghosts. That may explain why several security guards left after just a few nights alone in the Equitable. According to Elizabeth Johnson:

"The ghosts in the basement scared one of the security guards. He was a temporary replacement for the second shift. He came to my office and said he would not return to the basement because of the evil spirits in the library. They have also been known to play with people in the basement. One lady was filing in the basement on a Saturday and had left her cart at the end of the aisle when she left to get something from the front office. When she returned, the cart was in the middle of the aisle. She assumed she had just forgotten where she left it and continued to file. She left once again to get something and when she returned a chair had been moved into the aisle."

In another basement oddity, a woman walking down the hall felt someone flipping the ends of her hair off her shoulders. She adjusted her hair but the presence kept playing with it as she walked down the hall. Although long dead, the basement ghosts have a lively addiction to mischief. According to Elizabeth Johnson, "The first time my engineer went on vacation, his replacement came to my office in a panic. He asked me to follow him to the former mailroom area. There he showed me a black ash-like stuff on the walls and on the plastic mail bins. We never found the source of that creepy stuff."

Most of the ghosts in the building seem protective of the Equitable. They seem to resent anyone who doesn't also love their building. According to Elizabeth Johnson, "Prior to my managing the building, a woman working on the seventh floor constantly complained about the building. One day the ceiling over her desk collapsed. The contractor could not find any reason for the collapse. He guessed that the spirits had given that woman a warning about her constant complaints. She soon moved out of the building."

While most of the spirits remain unseen, they do appear occasionally. Two employees working on the fifth floor frequently see grey shadowy figures in the hall and in the office area. Neither employee feels they are being threatened-just watched. One apparition startled an administrative assistant cleaning up a law office. She was sorting things out, glanced up and saw a man sitting in an office. She says he was, "wearing a brown pinstriped suit and smiled when she looked up. When she asked who he was and what he was doing there, he vanished." Kacy Wilkens, a tenant of the building, was startled early one morning by a man wearing old-fashioned coveralls. "He was wiping down the wood trim around the door," she said, "and he told me: 'you shouldn't be here so early. Don't you know the building is haunted?" When she mentioned this incident to the management, they told her that no maintenance people were ever in the building that early and all their maintenance people wore jeans to work.

Throughout the past century, the surroundings of the Equitable have changed dramatically. Where streetcars and horses once paraded down the street, cars and the light rail now pass. Even the interior of the Equitable has changed slightly. However, the essence of the building remains. The renovations and purchases speak to the structure's continuing value to the business community and to the historical importance of this landmark. Every aspect of the Equitable Building, from its ornate carvings to its ghostly apparitions, speaks to its unique role in Denver's history. Despite booms and busts, murders and assaults, the Equitable persists, ghosts and all, as Denver's finest and most storied office building.

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Barry S. Engel
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