Friday, April 17, 2015

Colorado Haunted Hotels - The Bross Hotel

We're sharing the history and haunted legends associated with each of the hotels and B&Bs in our book forthcoming in early June,  

an amateur ghost hunting guide
to Haunted Hotels
in southwest Colorado

This week, we feature the Bross Hotel in Paonia, Colo. (If you missed the earlier account of our own paranormal investigation at the Bross, click here.)

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Historical Context

In 1900, William Taylor (W.T.) Bross and his wife Laura Harkness Bross came to Paonia with six children. W.T. bought the lots where the hotel would stand, and in 1905 construction began, using locally fired bricks, still visible both within and without. At the same time, Laura ran an eating and lodging house next door, where the family lived. The hotel opened for business in 1906.

The Bross Hotel became a popular lodging and dining facility, and Paonia’s The Newspaper on April 6, 1906, proclaimed it as “[t]he only really first-class hotel” in Delta county. Triple-brick construction made the building virtually fireproof. The hotel was exceptional for the times, having a basement and three above-ground stories. All floors still display bay windows, attesting to the wealth of the owners. It also contained a furnace rather than a fireplace, indoor plumbing, full bathrooms with hot-and-cold water on each floor, and even electric lights.

OT & Laura Bross
W.T. brought guests to the hotel from the evening train, using his horse-drawn cart. Laura, known as Mother Bross, served as the hotel manager, meeting guests at the door, collecting room payments, and explaining the rules of the house. Her granddaughter later recalled that Mother Bross was a “real dressed up lady… in dark skirts, white top, and always white apron. And a black velvet ribbon around her neck.”

When W.T died in 1921, their youngest son Otto took charge and retained ownership throughout the 1930s, upgrading and remodeling the facility.

In 1944, Otto sold the hotel to Lura Atkins, but on the condition that he could remain a resident until his death, which occurred in 1959. He wasn’t the only longtime boarder. Merrill Henry lived for thirty years at the Bross until his death in 1984.

Through the years, the hotel changed hands eight times. For the past 14 years, Linda Lentz has owned and operated the B&B.

Local Legends & Ghostly Stories
While staying at The Bross, you can pick up an interesting booklet, Bross Hotel: One Hundred Years, 1906-2006, written by Linda Lentz, which includes accounts of previous hauntings and apparitions.

In 1993, a family briefly rented the hotel for temporary accommodations. The laundry at that time was located on the second floor, and the family’s mother reported she never felt comfortable in that room because it felt like someone was watching her. One day, Mother Bross appeared to her, wearing a black skirt and white blouse. She appeared a second time and the woman tried to communicate with her, but the apparition disappeared.

On another occasion, the children in that family also reported an encounter in the basement with a spirit they felt was a man. They told it to go away and it did. The man in the basement could have been Otto or even Merrill Henry, the other longtime hotel resident.

Mirror that Mother Bross's 
ghost knocked to the floor
According to Linda, Mother Bross never really left the premises and has made her presence known in multiple ways through the years. One notable account took place in the late 1990s when a former innkeeper made disparaging remarks about Mother Bross’s appearance while looking at the founder’s portrait in the reception room: “Immediately, the large mirror over the back bar in the dining room fell down, hit the counter, and landed on the floor without breaking.” The innkeeper traveled directly upstairs to Room Two, where she apologized, and the mirror has never fallen since. Linda told us the mirror was moly-bolted to the wall and should not have fallen.

The same former innkeeper also said Mother Bross had a tendency to sit on beds, mussing the covers, moving objects, and playing other tricks. 

Ironically, Mother Bross ran the hotel but never lived there; her home was next door. However, her son did reside in Room Two until his death. Linda suggests, “She is happy in Room Two…. Mother Bross probably haunts that room because she’s looking out for her baby, Otto.”

We interviewed Hector Zeferino of Hotchkiss Paranormal Investigators, who investigated the hotel during the late summer of 2014. He told us he’d personally spent the night in Room Two. When he turned in, he felt invisible hands tuck the covers around the length of his body – a common experience at the B&B. The team reported interactions with both Laura and W.T. Bross.  Over a period of two days, they also interacted with Otto, his wife, and son Billy as well.

Hotel guests have reported apparitions on both the second and third floors. 

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Next week, we share the history and ghostly legends associated with South Fork's Spruce Lodge, where  owners and guests alike have learned to expect a whole range of paranormal activity, including poltergeists and repeated full-body apparitions.

We're now in week six of the countdown toward publication of  WILD WEST GHOSTS!

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