Oct 252006
Authors: Hallie Woods The Rocky Mountain Collegian

The strange happenings ended in 1981 when the staff could no longer take it and brought in an exorcist. Finally, the staff could all take a deep sigh of relief.

But until then, life was almost like hell.

The building that now houses Beau Jo’s is the former Avery Building from the late 1800’s. Once the home to Franklin Avery’s First National Bank, the building has rumors of haunting because Franklin Avery’s brother was mysteriously murdered.

“I’ve only been here four years,” said Beau Jo’s general manager Ryan Parker. “But people from the past have told me it’s haunted.”

According to legends compiled by the Fort Collins museum, eerie occurrences plagued the Avery building until the early 1980’s.

Late one night, a Beau Jo’s employee was locking up the building for the night. A spine-chilling presence was in the air. When the employee tried to close the door, resistance from the other side prevented him from doing so. All of a sudden the tension cut loose, the doorknob fell out and the door slammed shut.

In another instance, a light fixture crashed to the floor. Upon examination, the repairmen told the Beau Jo’s employees that the screws holding the fixture in place were still completely intact.

Others have felt cold air and the presence of someone on the second floor.

“In 1981 they brought in an exorcist and no one has reported anything since then,” said Kerry Doyle, curator of the Fort Collins Museum.

The Avery family was influential to Fort Collins in the late 1890s. Franklin Avery was the founder of First National Bank, which still does business in Fort Collins today. He was also essential to the development of irrigation methods that made agriculture successful in Northern Colorado.

Franklin and his wife Sara built a home on the corner of Mountain Avenue and Meldrum Street. The couple had three children whom they raised in this large house.

Terror and tragedy struck this influential family in the 1890s when Franklin’s brother, William, died suddenly of a stomach illness. However, when William’s wife married only 12 days later, suspicion arose. An autopsy determined the cause of death to be arsenic poisoning. In the end, though, William’s wife was acquitted.

Now, Fort Collins locals wonder if the apparitions and strange happenings are the ghosts of the angry William Avery and his family who were not given justice.

Terror Tours

This story of the Avery murder and the haunted building is just one of many eerie stories about Fort Collins that is told in a yearly Halloween tour given by the Fort Collins Museum, 200 Mathews St.

Terror Tours, which have been continuing for six years, take a 60-minute tour around town relaying the historical facts of Fort Collins, as well as some eerie legends.

“We tell you about some of the darker side of Fort Collins that no one knows about,” Doyle said.

The tours, which will be held on Oct. 28, were organized after the museum staff researched not only the historical facts but also the legends many business owners had been sitting on. Through years of gathering stories from books and many of the locals, the museum put together a tour of thrills and chills.

Some of the stops

When sipping an ice-cold beer under the gold letters of the Crown Pub, who would guess this place is haunted by residents of the realm of the dead?

The pub, as Fort Collins knows it today, was once a brothel in the 1920s. Then known as the Nedley Hotel, the house was used for men seeking a night with a female escort.

But there is more to the building than its fascinating history. The Crown Pub is home to apparitions and strange movements.

“There have been some spooky instances where things fly off the shelves,” Doyle said. “Employees have reported seeing ghostly features.”

The tour also makes a stop at the Fort Collins Museum of Contemporary Art, 201 S. College Ave., to discuss the ground on which the museum was built. In 1864, this area was a military burial ground and was Fort Collins’ first cemetery. Although the bodies have been moved, the museum believes the spirits of the soldiers protect it from evil ghosts.

The tour also takes interested patrons to the Old Town Art Framing Building, which used to be the Miller Building. Bottle Works operated here, bottling non-alcoholic beverages during the time Fort Collins was a dry town from 1896 to 1969.

A discussion about the supposed hauntings of the Northern Hotel, a suspected murder in Library Park, The House of Mayors, the old hospital and other spooky events are just some of the additional discussions and stops along the way.

“It’s a really fun way to tell the history of Fort Collins and the quirky facts you want to know,” Doyle said.

Whether you believe the tales of the Avery family, or of the prostitutes haunting the Crown Pub, the real story is in the history of the town and the fun in believing the paranormal.

And next time someone enters Beau Jo’s, who’s to say Franklin Avery won’t be there to greet them?

Verve editor Hallie Woods can be reached at verve@collegian.com.


Want to learn more about the haunted history of Fort Collins?

Go to the Fort Collins Museum for a Terror Tour on Saturday, Oct. 28.

200 Mathews St.

Tours start at 8 p.m. and run every 15 minutes until 10 p.m.

A $3 donation is suggested



Want to see the Avery House?

Stop by on Sundays or Wednesdays from 1 to 3 p.m.

328 West Mountain Ave.


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