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Blake Street Vault: A Haunted Bar in Historic Denver

By Dave Fox
Denver, Colorado

The Blake Street Vault in Denver, Colorado: Many people believe the bar is haunted.

“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.

Bar manager Jerard Bell says mugs he has placed several inches back in the cubby holes have gone crashing to the floor.

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.

Bartender Kati Lopez leads the way into the basement vault after which the bar is named.

Bartender Kati Lopez leads the way into the vault after which the bar is named.

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.

Bullet holes pockmark the vault's interior.

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.”

Lopez points to a spot on a photo that a customer e-mailed to the bar. There was nobody on the staircase leading into the basement when the photo was taken, yet a faint outline of a woman appears at the top of the stairs.

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.

According to Lopez, the customer claims the photo has not been digitally altered.

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. 

Published on Friday, May 18, 2012

3 Responses to “Blake Street Vault: A Haunted Bar in Historic Denver”

  1. May 21, 2012 at 4:31 PM

    Thanks for sharing your story, Mary!

    I worked for a couple of years as a tour guide for Bill Speidell’s Underground Tour in Seattle. We took people underneath the sidewalks to the city’s original level before a fire in the 1860s burned Seattle to the ground. I never encountered any ghost-like behavior myself, but several tour guides and tourists said they did. One employee swears she has seen books fly off the shelves in the gift shop and fly across the room.

    Seattle was a rough city during the Yukon Gold Rush up in Alaska. There were many murders. It’s curious to me that ghost sightings are frequently tied to places where violence and murders might have happened.

    • December 19, 2012 at 10:33 AM

      Eek! What happened to Mary’s post? I swear it was here and I didn’t delete it. Did a ghost leave a comment on this website?

  2. May 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    I don’t believe in ghosts…but I definitely felt the presence of something at the battlefield of Culloden in Scotland. It is hard to describe but there was a very physical awareness of the lingering spirits of the fallen Highland men. (Does this mean I really do believe in ghosts?)

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