An Oxford Ghost Story

The Oxford Hotel is Denver’s oldest operating hotel opening her doors in October 1891 with 400 rooms for rent. The Rocky Mountain News touted the Oxford’s use of new technologies, such as its own power plant and steam heating system along with electric and gas lighting. It also boasted a bathroom, as in ONE, on each floor with separate water closets. Although it was state-of-the-art, the clientele were common folks, prospectors, farmers, and travelers making the hotel a very busy place.

Due to its proximity to the train station and an inexpensive option to the more upscale places like the Brown Palace, which happens to be the second oldest operating hotel in Denver, the Oxford soon needed to expand. In 1902 an additional 55 rooms were built which still didn’t afford enough rooms, so in 1912 the Oxford Annex across the alley was added on. With the passing of the 21st Amendment and the abolishment of prohibition, work began on refurbishing the hotel’s original Victorian tavern into a swanky bar. The Cruise Room, opened in 1933, the very day the Amendment went into affect.

The Cruise Room, still a favorite watering hole for locals today, is a long narrow bar right off the lobby of the Oxford’s main floor. Its design was taken from the Queen Mary and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Inside you’ll see the artistic glass panels displayed around the room representing “toasts” to different countries and cultures around the globe. Originally there was a German panel positioned behind the bar which had the likeness of Adolf Hitler plastered right in the middle of it. Sometime during the throes of World War Two this particular panel was ripped right off the wall and replaced by another country.

If you happen to drop in for a drink be aware of whom or what you sit next to. Story has it that an older gentleman sporting a short scruffy beard, non-descript clothes and looking a little worse for wear, “appears” at the bar on certain evenings and orders a whiskey straight up. Keeping to himself, the old-timer tosses it back and waves over the bartender.

BARTENDER - Yes sir, want another?

OLD TIMER - Nope, need to be headin’ down the road.

BARTENDER - Alright.

OLD TIMER - How much do I owe ya?

BARTENDER - That’ll be $6.00.

OLD TIMER - $6.00!! Whoowee! It gets more expensive every time I come in here!

The bartender turns around to dump the glass into the sink, turns back to collect the money, and the man is gone! He completely disappears and no one from the sparsely crowded bar sees him leave, at least that’s what those patrons that actually saw him claim. Was this a real man or merely an apparition? You decide.

Others tell tales of feeling the presence of spirits while still others have felt a hand on their shoulder. Ladies, if you’re feeling brave, tread carefully down to the basement where the public restrooms are and see if you feel any vibes. Having a bathroom in the basement is creepy enough for me.

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