Wednesday, October 19, 2011

The Haunted House of Globeville

A lot of decorations and haunted houses will appear in yards around Globeville during the month of October, but none of them will be as interesting as Globeville's real "haunted house."
The story begins with the discovery of gold in Colorado in 1858 and John B. Hindry, who  made a fortune supplying lumber and cattle to others who came seeking mineral riches. In 1870, the wealthy Hindry purchased 110 acres of land north of Denver along the South Platte River to build a country home away from the grime and noise of frontier Denver, with plans to create an exclusive subdivision. He constructed his two-story Victorian mansion in 1873, a masterpiece crowned with an ornate cupola and an entrance watched over by two massive iron lions. The interior was decorated with black walnut paneling and Italian marble. A two-story brick stable for trotting horses and a greenhouse stood behind the house. A miniature playhouse for the Hindry children, William, Nettie, Horace, and Charles, was built in the style of the mansion.
By the turn of the century, Hindry’s fortunes had turned. He suffered the death of his son Charles in 1878 and of his wife in 1881; his other children had married and left to begin lives of their own. John Hindry was alone in his mansion.
His dream home soon become a nightmare. Not long after his mansion was completed, the Boston and Colorado Smelter began operating (1879), followed by the Grant (1882) and Globe Smelters (1889). The construction of railroads, foundries, and meat-packing plants made the area more suited to heavy industry than to exclusive homes. The fumes from the smelters killed the trees, and ate through the carpets and curtains in the mansion, and the stench from the meat-packing plants ruined any hopes for a subdivision. When Hindry's lawsuit against the Globe Smelter was unsuccessful, he became increasingly bitter.
Rumors circulated that the lonely old man had a hoard of money hidden in the house, and thieves began to prowl the property. After being robbed several times, Hindry set up a trap with a shotgun that would fire straight out the window when the sash was raised. It didn’t take long to get results.
On the morning of September 18, 1901, Hindry set his trap as usual, and went to Golden on business. When he returned home at 6 pm, he found a man dead in his front yard.*
Eventually the trap became Hindry’s undoing. One night he entered the room when he thought he’d heard a prowler, tripped over the trigger cord and was wounded by his own gun. Although he recovered, he abandoned his former dream home to move to California in 1906. 
As the neglected and abandoned property deteriorated, stories of ghostly apparitions began to circulate. Some said they saw Hindry’s ghost, while others claim the figure was that of the man who had been shot there. The former mansion became known as Globeville's “haunted house.”
In 1921 Leo Bomareto bought the house at a tax auction for $6000 and leased it to the city for an isolation hospital for tuberculosis patients for five years, beginning in 1923. In the 1940s, the Bomareto family moved in, fixed up the house and converted the former stable in the backyard to a meat-packing plant. During the 1950s the family sold Christmas trees from a lot set up in the backyard. In July 1962, an unexplained explosion threw Frank Bomareto out of bed and the resulting fire destroyed the house. 
Today nothing remains of the Hindry Mansion but memories.

*Automatic Gun Kills Thief” Rocky Mountain News, September 19, 1901

Top photo, Hindry mansion in its prime, Colorado Historical Society
Middle photo, deteriorating "haunted house" Colorado Historical Society
Bottom photo, the site today is occupied by Bomareto's Market, Mary Lou Egan

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Easing the Way - Emigration

Political unrest, religious and cultural oppression and economic uncertainty were some of the factors that motivated Eastern Europeans and German Russians to emigrate in the years before World War I. Improvements in transportation eased the way. Steamships crossed the Atlantic in as little as two weeks and offered a variety of accomodations and rates, including the opportunity for men to work off their passage. The invention of the prepaid ticket and the development of inexpensive and reliable means of transferring funds abroad made it easier for families to finance their own exodus. 

A sample of a wire transfer of funds in 1902