Blake Street Vault: A Haunted Bar in Historic Denver
By Dave Fox
“Lydia likes to play with our mugs sometimes,” says Jerard Bell, bar manager at Denver’s Blake Street Vault pub. She twirls pens around in glasses and topple mugs off shelves.
It’s a bartender’s job to humor the occasional weirdo but Bell is quick to tell me, Lydia is no weirdo. Lydia is a lonely ghost.
Bell doesn’t see Lydia when she’s twirling the pens. He just sees the pens moving, around and around in circles.
“It will keep going for like five or ten minutes,” he tells me calmly – no worries that I might think he’s crazy. There’s no question in his mind; the bar is haunted.
Bell isn’t the only employee who has encountered Lydia. Kati Lopez, a bartender at the Vault, says, “I have heard her footsteps, and I was alone at the bar.” She adds that investigators of paranormal activity have detected unusual energy in the pub and the tunnels beneath it. Some people believe the bar could have two dueling spirits.
The Blake Street Vault sits in Denver’s “LoDo” (Lower Downtown) district. In the 1890s, tunnels were dug throughout the neighborhood to deliver coal from the railway station to local businesses without dirtying the streets.
The tunnels took on a shadier use as discreet passageways between brothels and “speak-easies,” secret bars that emerged during the Prohibition era, when the United States banned alcohol consumption in 1919. Illicit activities sometimes led to violence, and untimely deaths.
Named for a walk-in locker in the bar’s basement, the Blake Street Vault shows signs of a sketchy past. Lopez takes me down into the locker and shows me bullet holes in the walls.
“It was said that Al Capone used our tunnel at one point,” she mentions.
So just who is Lydia? Paranormal investigators have suggested she might have died after a drunken miner who she upset threw her down the stairs into the basement. She might have been a barmaid, or she might have had racier employment. Whoever she is, Bell believes, “She just likes us to know she’s around.”
She’s shy, Bell says, showing up only when few people are in the bar. But as you enter, you ‘ll see her favorite booth, third on the right, where menus have been reported to slide around on the table.
If you visit the pub when they’re not busy, they’re happy to give you a quick tour of the basement. (Tours are not offered on Friday and Saturday nights, as the bar tends to be too busy then.) You’ll see the vault and the tunnel entrance. Hang out till near closing, on a quiet night when other customers have left, and you might be lucky enough to encounter Lydia.
“It has to be very few people in here,” Bell says, but he insists Lydia is there, and “never scary or bad.”
When he’s by himself, locking up at the end of the night, he says, “I don’t feel lonely.” He always bids goodnight to Lydia before heading home to bed.
Do you believe in ghosts? Have you ever encountered one? Tell us about it in the comments area below!
For more information about the Blake Street Vault, visit blakestreetvault.com or call 303-825-9833.