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The Gazette

FRISCO - There's more than a century's worth of treasure under the floorboards and hidden in the ceilings at the Brown Hotel.

It's a quiet Thursday morning in March when Mike Cavanaugh, longtime proprietor at the historic hotel and bar in downtown Breckenridge, invites me into an office on the second floor. The office is a mish-mash of new and old and very old: an antique desk on one wall, a recently renovated bathroom and shower on the other side, a newly installed (and incredibly expensive) elevator shaft just beyond that, a bedroom lined with collected artwork and a post bed in the next room over. 

The Summit Daily

For decades, those who stumble into The Brown Hotel & Restaurant about a block off Main Street in Breckenridge have been stepping back in time.

They walk up to the porch, through the front door and into a dimly lit hallway that's too narrow for adults to comfortably pass each other without turning sideways and is lined with Denver newspapers from the early 1900s.

Small rooms to the left feature ping pong, foosball, air hockey and other tabletop games, and, on the right, visitors saw a velvet-lined parlor with a fireplace and board games before the bar area beckoned with a jukebox.

Some say the nearly 150-year-old building is haunted.

Owner Michael Cavanaugh, who has lived in The Brown for most of the last 30 years, describes its spooky atmosphere as more reminiscent of the "Hotel California" in the popular Eagles song.

The Summit Daily

Gail Westwood takes visitors to the historical Brown Hotel and Restaurant on every ghost tour she gives. She’s listened to stories about people hearing noises when nobody’s there and has even seen a bartender’s eerie photo of a ghostly figure in the parlor’s huge stone fireplace.”I thought it looked pretty convincing,” she said.A print article, framed and hanging in the narrow hallway of the Brown quotes Breckenridge instructor Mike Ross saying that the water turns on by itself in the women’s bathroom and the curtains move. Women are often so frightened, they refuse to go into the restroom alone.

As the story goes, in the late 1880s, a man named Capt. Ryan was having an affair with Miss Whitney, who also had a boyfriend. It seems Capt. Ryan discovered that Miss Whitney was only fooling around with him because he owned the Brown (before T.A. Brown purchased the building, added on to it and named it the Brown); you see, Miss Whitney wanted to sleep her way into favor with Ryan so she could use his inn as a high-class house of prostitution. When the truth came to light, he shot her. Now, it’s rumored that Miss Whitney haunts the building.

 

But owner Michael Cavanaugh can explain every sighting, noise and startle; what he can’t attribute to simple air flow principles, he charges to intoxication.Sure, he doesn’t say his ex-wife was crazy when she ran from the Brown to the police station in her stocking feet at 3 a.m., claiming the bedroom door closed three times, after she opened it three times.”I guess there’s a ghost, but it didn’t get rid of me; it got rid of my ex-wife,” he said, laughing.He doesn’t comment on why his wait staff would tell him silverware mysteriously disarranged itself and water glasses turned up half empty after they filled them and no one touched them. He says he’s had employees who refuse to go in the basement and customers who don’t want to go into the ladies’ restroom.

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