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The ghosts of Wyoming’s frontier days haunt the famous Tivoli in downtown Cheyenne. This historic building has served many purposes; a brewery, a political campaign center, a clothing store, a classroom, and much more. But it is most famous for its day as Cheyenne’s top brothel and saloon.
In the late 1800s, this building wined and dined the rough crowd that Cheyenne is now famous for. After a nice meal and night of drinking, you could spend the evening with one of Cheyenne’s women of ill repute. These ladies of the night haunt the building and still attract large amounts of adoring fans.
“We select our young women from the best backgrounds. They are attractive, intelligent, and well-versed in enough subjects to provide stimulating conversation with our guests.”
These words were read by countless cowboys, outlaws, traders, and trappers as they entered the “House of Mirrors.” This upscale brothel on the main floor of the Tivoli was locally renowned for decades after its opening in 1892.
The foundations of the Tivoli were likely set in 1874. A small wooden structure that was later fortified in 1883. In 1892 the Tivoli got the facelift that we see today.
The addition included the finest antique wood and pressed brick, and two renovated stories were added to the structure. A brothel and saloon entertained travelers and locals on the first floor, and rooms were rented on the second.
Two enterprising brothers, The Richardsons, spent $15,000 on these lavish renovations. They were even the proud owners of a $2,500 “orchestration.” An antique musical instrument that replicates a whole orchestra!
Their investments paid off, but not without a price.
Hard drinking, gambling, and legalized prostitution always spell out a recipe for violence. The Tivoli was no exception.
This was the town where Western legends such as Bill Hickcock, Wyatt Earp, Tom Horn, and the Gunny Sack gang would often frequent. In 1894, a shootout occurred between three gunslingers in front of the Victorian building. One of them died, and the legacy of the building as a seedy yet classy establishment was cemented.
The story of the chandelier woman is the saddest tale of violence at the Tivoli. During the days of prohibition, the main floor became a clothing. But sin still took precedence, both above and below.
The basement operated as a speakeasy, and the top floor continued to cater to the lustful men of the town. The brothel was often frequented by very wealthy men looking to get their fix for the evening.
An employee of the brothel was found hanging from a wagon-wheel chandelier one sad morning. Her main customer was one of the wealthiest men in town. She was impregnated by this robber baron of Cheyenne and either committed suicide or was murdered.
The latter seems to hold more water as her spirit is extremely active in the old building.
The Tivoli changed face as time went along, and the old cowboy days faded. After Prohibition was repealed, the Tivoli became one of the most popular beer gardens in town.
The 1960s and 70s saw the building fall into disrepair. It remained vacant for many years but gained protection when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1978.
The Chamber of Commerce purchased the building in 1979 and ran several businesses out of it, including its headquarters, a coffee shop, and offices for the local university.
In 2006 Wyoming’s soon-to-be 32nd Governor Matt Mead ran his campaign out of the building.
He leased out the first floor to the Freedom’s Edge Brewing Company until 2014. The building was owned by an investment company in 2016 and appears to still be for sale.
Many business owners, employees, and patrons noticed some odd things about the Tivoli throughout its long tenure. The spirits of the frontier days are still hanging around to this day.
The most active spirit is the “Chandelier Lady,” as she has become known.
After her murder, the chandelier that she was hung from up would swing by itself and flicker on and off. It was eventually removed. Her cries could still be heard throughout the building for many years.
During the Chamber of Commerce days and onwards, visitors to the coffee shop on the bottom floor would see her on the staircase. Guests would often ask who the woman in the beautiful, flowing dress was. She vanished by the time employees turned around.
Many people would see her in the windows, staring sadly out into the street.
An old elevator used to run in the Tivoli. While it is long gone, the sounds of an elevator running up and down can still be heard from time to time.
Items would often go missing in the coffee shop, and during renovations in 2007, tools would move around on their own. The sounds of men and women talking on the second floor have been heard by many.
It seems as if the old brothel is still running after all.
If you find yourself in Cheyenne for one of their fabled Frontier Days, or if you are just exploring the plains of the Old West, be sure to look around closely. The city is full of hauntings, spectacular violence, betrayal, and renewal stories.
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