Historic Denver saved the Molly Brown House Museum from demolition in 1970
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As more and more historic properties were demolished in the 1960s, a group of preservation-minded Denver citizens joined efforts in 1970 to rescue the home of Titanic survivor Margaret Tobin Brown. The group incorporated as Historic Denver, Inc. and began major restoration efforts in order to return the home’s interior and exterior to its early 20th century grandeur. Guided tours of the Museum reach an average of 45,000 visitors a year, sharing the story of Margaret “Molly” Brown and Denver history. Historic Denver’s Molly Brown House Museum is committed to enhancing the city’s unique identity by telling the story of Margaret “Molly” Brown’s activism, philanthropy and passion through educational programs, exhibits and stewardship. By exploring the dynamic between past and present, we shape a stronger community for the future and inspire engaged citizens.
The Molly Brown House Museum stands as an enduring symbol of the turn of the 20th century in Denver. In the 1880s, the lucky few who made millions in the mountains, the railroads, or trade moved to the prestigious Capitol Hill neighborhood. This included Isaac and Mary Large who made their fortune in silver mining and built the house at 1340 Pennsylvania Avenue. They commissioned the well-known architect William Lang who combined the styles of Classic Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque to create a unique and eclectic home. The home contained all the modern technology of the day including electricity, indoor plumbing, heat, and telephone.
Shortly after its completion, the Larges became victims of the silver market crash. They sold their home to James Joseph “J.J.” and Margaret Brown in 1894. Over the next thirty years the Browns made changes to the house including the front porch, back porch, roof, and third floor. In 1898, J.J. transferred the title of the house into Margaret’s name. When Margaret was traveling she would often rent the house to wealthy families. In 1902, while the Browns were on a world trip, the home became the Governor’s mansion for James Orman and his family. Margaret continued renting until the declining neighborhood and the Great Depression forced her to turn the home into a boarding house under the supervision of her housekeeper, Ella Grable.
Upon Margaret’s death in 1932, at the height of the Great Depression, the house was sold. Subsequent owners altered the house dramatically, creating twelve separate spaces for roomers. In 1958, Art Leisenring purchased the house, renting rooms to gentlemen boarders. He later leased it to the city for use as a Jane Addams Hull home for girls. Leisenring however wanted to preserve the history of Margaret “Molly” Brown as she was being immortalized on stage and screen in the “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” Concerned about the urban renewal he was seeing happen in the neighborhood, a group of citizens led by Leisenring appealed to the Governor’s wife, Ann Love, for help.
On December 11, 1970, these citizens formed Historic Denver, Inc. and began a grass roots effort to save the Molly Brown House from demolition. Media appeals and other fundraising efforts allowed Historic Denver to purchase the “House of Lions” and begin restoration. Through paint analysis, architectural research, and studying original house photographs from 1910, the house has been carefully restored to its original Victorian splendor.
- Andrea Malcomb, Museum Director
(303) 832-4092 ext. 15
- Stephanie McGuire, Curator of Collections
(303) 832-4092 ext. 12
- Heather Pressman
Director of Learning & Engagement
(303) 832-4092 ext. 17
- Jen Kindick, Museum Education Specialist
(303) 832-4092 ext. 20
- Taylor Herbst, Visitor Experience Coordinator
(303) 832-4092 ext. 11
- Mike Erickson, Volunteer & Events Coordinator
(303) 832-4092 ext. 16
- Historic Denver
(Molly Brown House Museum parent)
www.historicdenver.org or call (303) 534-5288.
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The Molly Brown House Museum is a proud Tier III organization
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Thank you for your interest in Historic Denver and the Molly Brown House Museum. Our general museum information, as well as any press recent releases, are listed below. If you need further information please contact the Director of the museum at (303) 832-4092 ext. 15. If you are interested in photographs of the Museum, please visit our photo gallery.