The Castle Project

Beware the Night: A Paranormal Investigator’s Perspective of The Castle Project: Colorado’s Haunted Mansion

By Ed Sum


After watching The Castle Project: Colorado’s Haunted Mansion, both the experienced and inexperienced paranormal investigator will have a field day if they decide to visit the Croke-Patterson Mansion located in Denver. I’d travel there just to experience everything that’s said to occur in Brian Higgins’ softly crafted documentary. To hear babies crying or champagne glasses clinking along with seeing apparitions near stairwells is a product of many a classic haunted house film. This time, the stories told here are supposedly real!

This DVD and VOD product became available on October 1, just in time for Halloween, and for sleuths like me, this video shows that anyone can be an investigator. All the individual has to do is to ask the right questions, interview the right people, and research the history that’s attached to the land. Well, getting two and a half out of the three items done right is a good start.

In this case, the Garden of the Gods, a national park that features some of the most gorgeous sandstone formations to behold, is the perfect place to begin this tale. Apparently the bricks that made this mansion were taken from this area, and if there is any supernatural history attached to these rocks, only the aboriginals will know. This place was settled by a few tribes—more specifically the Arapahoe and Cheyenne tribes—who called this area home. If this place is considered to be as sacred as the Western Wall in Jerusalem is, then there might be something terrible, if not elemental, haunting the finished product–the mansion itself!

This residence was built by Thomas Bernard Croke in 1890. According to local folklore he was shaken by “whatever” was here when he first stepped into its hallowed halls. When a house is new, it should not be haunted. The questions raised in this video may well pave the way for other paranormal investigators to look deeper into what is the root cause. I’d personally want to visit this bed & breakfast operation (as it is being run now) in an attempt to hear the cry of infants late in the night. That in itself can be unsettling, but ever since this place finished renovations, has it become quiet?


That depends on who you ask. I might be able to catch the same type of evidence that the Rocky Mountain Paranormal Society (ran by Matthew Baxter and Bryan Bonner) have caught on tape. This team is featured in this video. Maybe the interviews I’d be conducting with the dead will reveal why they feel trapped. This documentary does a great job at teasing viewers with what goes on here but it does not go deep enough to satisfy a die-hard fan. It’s made to satisfy the curiosity seeker rather than a paranormal detective.


The only shame is that Higgins decided not to set up his own experiments during his overnight stays there. Nothing was done to see if those incidents reported to have happened long ago could be recreated. When this filmmaker is only armed with one hand-held video camera and security cameras to put together his personal account of what went on, the explanation why speaks for itself: he was out to make more of a video journal than to conduct a full-on investigation. His fear is mildly expressed and that helped keep me glued to those moments more so than the history that was retold in photographs, recreations and voice over—most of which could be found by doing a Google search.


But I did have to wonder, just how does the opening line he quoted from Dante’s Inferno tie in to the mystery of the house on haunted hill? That may work for people looking for Christian meaning about the soul’s final journey, but I personally feel that’s a missed mark. At least he took into account why some paranormal investigators are interested in pursuing the unknown. Their motives are can vary from less emphasis about spirituality and more about catching that one piece of definitive proof.


I had to wonder more about this building’s connections with the land and its native people. They most likely have more to say than the spirits that are still stuck in the house. Maybe the original builder Croke and architect Isaac Hodgson did not pay respect to the land when they took the rock from the area around the Garden of the Gods to build this home. Perhaps the ground the Croke-Patterson Mansion was built upon was not properly consecrated. Maybe the real skeletons are located deeper, perhaps an additional six feet underneath its very foundations.


After watching this documentary, I found myself wanting to learn more about this building’s sorted history. If that was Higgins’ intent, he succeeded. His exploration about what goes on is a great primer for everything that’s generally known about this haunted house, but to really delve into this building’s mysteries requires a visit to the forlorn property and digging through the archives to find what was here back in the 19th century.


Was there an underground creek? Were Native-Americans really buried here? And what about ley lines related to the property? These details have to be considered, too. Ann Alexander Leggett, author of Ghosts of Denver’s Croke-Patterson Mansion, does talk about it briefly in the video but she goes into greater depth in her book. Perhaps a darker question needs to be answered: just how many babies died on the property and what were the circumstances that led to their passing?


Perhaps some information is best not said.


3.5 out of 5