The Haunting at Bradmar
In February 1972, the Rocky Mountain News announced the sale of a Cherry Hills home in a rather unorthodox fashion:
Looking for a house with 23 rooms, five fireplaces, and possibly a resident ghost? Then your house is Bradmar. The fabled and gabled English Tudor house at 4100 S. University Blvd. that sits on four acres of ground and presently belongs to the Robert A. Bradleys is for sale. (Rocky Mountain News, February 17, 1972)
Who was Bradmar's "resident ghost?"
The history of the home at 4100 South University Boulevard began in 1919, when George W. Gano, then president the Gano-Downs Clothing Company, commissioned the architectural firm Fisher and Fisher to design a lavish home in an area of Arapahoe County known as Cherry Hills. The May-June-July 1926 issue of Denver Municipal Facts described the home as follows:
The Gano house, on University Road is in the early Tudor English style. It features hand-hewn wooden lintels that extend to all outside doors and windows and its ornamental roof of Vermont slate is of variegated colors.
The Gano family enjoyed a life of tranquility in their suburban home until the morning of November 29, 1930, when George was awakened by a heart attack and died soon after.
George's widow, Ethel, continued to live in the Tudor mansion and remarried in 1933. Her second husband, Hubert Work, was former U.S. Postmaster General and U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Hubert passed away in December 1942.
Ethel Work continued to reside in her Cherry Hills home until she died on May 4, 1960. Prior to her death, Ethel told friends that she wanted her coffin brought before the fireplace in the home's parlor. She is alleged to have also prophesied that once the coffin was in place, a ceiling beam in the room would split. A four-foot-wide beam is said to have split after Ethel's passing.
The Gano mansion sat vacant for ten months after Ethel's death. Chandeliers, wall sconces and door fixtures were auctioned off. Pipes were left to freeze and break, and plumbing fixtures cracked. The majority of the damage to the home, however, came from vandals who shattered nearly all of the windows and delivered blows to floors, ceilings and a fireplace.
In May 1962, obstetrician Dr. Robert Bradley and his wife, Dorothy purchased the home. Along with interior designer Carl Vogel, they spent a year restoring the structure and replaced leaded glass windows, window frames, plumbing and wiring. Woodwork was refinished and the kitchen was modernized.
And then, odd things began happening.
The family wasn't fully moved in when they began hearing footsteps. Later, they would discern shouts and loud party music that could not be explained.
In 1965, Robert and Dorothy Bradley co-authored Who Walks at Bradmar?, a book which detailed their ghostly experiences in the home. Dr. Bradley explained in an October 6, 1965, Rocky Mountain News article about the book that "...paranormal phenomena that have no conventional explanation occur regularly at our house."
Throughout the the 1970s, the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News featured several articles detailing the Bradley family's paranormal experiences.
Despite the home's rewired electrical system, lights would inexplicably blink on and off. Dorothy noticed that the blinking usually occurred before an unusual event. One year, lights in the children's quarters flashed on and off the day before a Fourth of July celebration. The following day, a 10-year-old boy fell from a tall cottonwood tree in the Bradleys' yard. He suffered a concussion and fractures of both arms at the wrist.
Similarly, when the heavy brass chandelier in the mansion's Great Hall bobbed, "like a little ball of cotton," Dorothy said she knew that, "something traumatic is going to happen." In 1971, Dorothy told journalist Frances Melrose of the Rocky Mountain News,
"So far, everything we have had happen here seems purposeful. It takes on a pattern. We would think it might be poltergeists, except that by definition, a poltergeist is aimless and purposeless and usually causes damage. These do not."
In an October 30, 1976, Denver Post article, Dr. Bradley described the home's paranormal activity as benevolent:
"Our spirits are good and cooperative. They do things for us like pulling down window shades to close out the light when I'm sitting nearby reading and too lazy to get up myself."
Window shades weren't the only things that moved on their own, however.
One of the first episodes after they moved into the house involved the doctor. He reached for a heavy silver cigaret [sic] case, and it rose in the air and floated a few inches away from him, out of his grasp. Then it fell on its side, without a sound, however, and lay still. (Rocky Mountain News, July 11, 1971)
Dr. Bradley noted that the doorbell often rang on its own despite having a heavy, cast iron pull that required a strong tug. Another time, he witnessed a stick moving by itself, frightening his dog. A cello upstairs was plucked by unseen hands, dresser drawers opened and closed without human assistance and a rocking chair was seen swaying on its own.
Dr. Bradley was a member of the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis and cofounder and member of the Academy of Parapsychology and Medicine. He was known to hold a seance with psychic medium friends twice a month.
In 1979, Bradley allowed Rocky Mountain News reporter Fred Morrow to visit the house. Morrow wrote of his experience in a February 25, 1979, article:
I spent three comfortable hours listening to the Bradleys talk of their parapsychology experiences. When it was time to go, I expressed mock disappointment in not having been scared. Quite suddenly the lights dimmed and then flared back on.
Scared yet? Be sure to check out WHG's other spooky blog posts!
Ready to do your own "ghost hunting?" Check out the Western History and Genealogy's (WHG) building history and genealogy resources, plus GHOST HUNTER’S GUIDE: WHO LIVED IN MY HOME?
Awesome, article. Thank you for the great read!
I grew up next door to Bradmar, and my best friend, Pelham Bradley, and I had many adventures there. I met Mrs. Work a few months before she passed away. She had a chaise lounge in her living room, next to her beautiful Steinway grand piano, which I was privileged to play on. She would pull a long, tasseled braided rope when she needed something. I witnessed the beam that she claimed she would split when she died. The beam was ten inches across--enormous. The split was very odd--jagged slashes down its entire middle, rather than a center split. I also saw Mrs. Work's ghost one night in the late Sixties. She was standing in the solarium at the south end of the house. She was visible for around a minute, and I had an eerie feeling that she was trying to ask us something. (Incidentally, the pool table in the solarium was an exact replica of Al Capone's table). I also witnessed the family seances, and saw the table on which six of their elbows rested move back and forth. Also, whenever I stayed over for the night Pelham and I heard what sounded very much like heavy chains dragging in the long upper hallway. Although the house had hot water radiators, this clanging was different. Another interesting fact: Temple Buel lived next door to Bradmar. June Canino, who married him, was my mother's best friend. Odd how many things come full circle.
I grew up in this home! I think about it all the time. I just hopped online to do a little research on it, and I am SO happy to find some of its history. However, we always referred to the home as “Tallwood.” Ethel and I were very well acquainted! As were my parents. I think they purchased the home in 1988 or ‘89. I never saw her figure (wish I did!), but her presence was heavily felt by many. My family and friends have plenty of stories about Ethel. Most of them seemed to be fun practical jokes, and at times, it seemed like she just wanted to show her love and affection towards me as a kid. That house is one in a million and I hope the home and Ethel are forever treasured!
Dr. Bradley was my mother’s and my obstetrician back in 1967, as my parents were adherents of his natural childbirth method. As a kid, my mom told me of the spooky stories Dr. Bradley told her about Bradmar. I always found them quite intriguing. I was delighted to find your article mentioning those same stories, and was a pleasure to see pictures of the grand old house!
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