A Haunted History: The Imperial Hotel

Come with us as we explore the Imperial Hotel located in historic, downtown Longmont. Is it haunted? Decide for yourself and continue to read…if you dare.

George Zweck, a Prussian immigrant, began to build a hotel in downtown Longmont in 1880. The Zweck Hotel located at 301 Main Street was palatial and when it opened in 1881, offered fancy amenities for the time. Longmont did not have a dedicated water supply in 1881, so Zweck had the building’s architect design three, large brick cisterns that were filled manually by bringing water up from the nearby St. Vrain River. The hotel’s heating was provided by coal-fired stoves, and furnishings were some of the finest European imports.

Postcard of Imperial Hotel and 300 west block of Main Street, 1920s.

Zweck had come to the U.S. as a young man and moved to the Colorado Territory during the Gold Rush of 1859. He settled a farm west of Longmont and began mining gold in the prosperous Left Hand Creek. Along with the hotel, he had other local business interests including: hospitality, cattle ranching and farming. Unfortunately, his luck in these endeavors ran out. The Zweck Hotel never recouped its building costs, he lost $90,000 worth of cattle in a blizzard and the gold mining became sparse. His wife, Mary, struggled to keep the family’s homestead viable by selling goods and produce which helped the family survive. The Zweck Hotel was reluctantly sold in 1894 to Mr. and Mrs. Charles F. Allen.

The Allens immediately changed the name of the hotel to the Imperial Hotel. Their family finally made the hotel a profitable investment, and they managed the property for the next 50 years. The Imperial changed hands a few more times, and finally shuttered its doors as a lodging property in 1971. Today, the building serves mainly as residential apartments, but on the main floor a Chinese restaurant and Javastop Coffee are open and The Speakeasy, a bar and lounge occupy the basement level.

George and Mary Zweck’s Wedding Photo, April 4, 1866.

Residents have reported hauntings in the Imperial Hotel for years. In particular, the feeling of a presence and the voice of a little girl have been heard in a 2nd floor residence. And numerous sightings have appeared in the coffee shop. Two paranormal investigators along with a psychic medium investigated the hotel and these reports.

During the investigation of the 2nd floor residence, the medium saw a pair of twin beds and the body of a young, dead girl was lying on one of the beds. A second young girl was next to the bed crying. In order to amplify her senses and mitigate extra sensory input, the medium placed a blindfold over her eyes. When she did that, a third girl and the spirit of a man entering the room through a doorway that is currently not there, appeared. The medium concluded the man was a would-be burglar who was confronted by the third young girl when he entered the room. He fled down the fire escape when she said something to him.

The Imperial Hotel and Longmont’s Main Street, early 1909.

The investigators and medium performed a thorough examination of the room finding an old doorway where the man entered covered by sheetrock. Once outside, they also found where that door would have connected to the fire escape. On the ground floor of the Imperial Hotel, is Javastop Coffee which according to previous owners, Kevin and Ellen Galm, is haunted by a few ghosts.

According to Kevin, an officer of the Civil War era wearing a Confederate uniform has been seen many times in and around the coffee shop, but the reason for his visits is unknown. The spirit of a young girl, who has never been seen, has spoken to patrons. And one server who frequently opened the shop in the morning by herself saw a spirit of a man leafing through the shop’s magazine and newspaper collection on three separate occasions. He disappeared into thin air when he was spotted. We’re not sure about ghosts, but we can confirm Javastop will serve up a great latte.

The Imperial Hotel today houses apartments, a coffee shop, Chinese restaurant and bar and lounge. Photo: Panoramio

The Imperial Hotel is a beautiful, three-story, Italianate-style building placed on the Longmont Historic Landmarks listing in 1977. It’s definitely worth visiting one of their shops for a coffee, a drink or a meal. Keep your eyes and ears open for anything out of the ordinary. You just may be visited by one of their more spirited residents.

The information for this post was collected from Haunted Longmont by Richard Estep. Get your copy today at one of our local bookstores, Barbed Wire Books or Used Book Emporium.

Cover photo and historic photos: Courtesy of the Longmont Museum & Cultural Center.

Categories: Community News,Downtown News,History

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