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Looming over Cap Hill is Denver’s spookiest piece of cannabis history, now with an Instagram-friendly refresh


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It’s hard to miss as you’re walk­ing down Grant Street in Cap Hill, not far from the Capi­tol: a giant, three-sto­ry sand­stone man­sion with stained glass win­dows and carved lions over­look­ing the grounds.

Then again, it’s also easy to spot con­sid­er­ing there’s a dis­pen­sary in back and a giant sign in front that reads “Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion.”

The Creswell Man­sion, as it was orig­i­nal­ly known, was built in 1889 for Den­ver busi­ness­man Joseph Creswell and designed by local archi­tect John J. Hud­dart, known for his work on sev­er­al promi­nent Col­orado cour­t­hous­es. The 11-room man­sion — with a car­riage house in back that is now home to a Green Drag­on dis­pen­sary — was named to the Nation­al Reg­is­ter of His­toric Places in 1977.

If you go

Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion, 1244 Grant St.,720–446-5433. Tours by appoint­ment only, $25 per per­son.

These days, how­ev­er, it’s most well known for being the home base of the Mar­i­jua­na Pol­i­cy Project, the group that draft­ed what even­tu­al­ly became Amend­ment 64, legal­iz­ing adult cannabis use in Col­orado in 2012. That’s how the build­ing got its Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion nick­name, and the building’s own­er is dou­bling down on that iden­ti­ty.

Lisa Led­er bought the man­sion in 2019 and got to work ren­o­vat­ing the mas­sive, aging space, which she planned to reopen in March 2020. The pan­dem­ic threw a wrench in that plan, but she’s final­ly show­ing off updates to the space and open­ing it up for tours.

There’s a lot of his­to­ry in these walls — and, depend­ing on who you ask, a lot of spooky sto­ries, too.

One artist, work­ing on ren­o­vat­ed rooms late at night, report­ed hear­ing foot­steps on the main stair­case, despite being alone in the build­ing. When play­ing music on a record play­er in a third-floor room, one employ­ee has report­ed the sound of bang­ing inside a clos­et, as if some­one was trapped and try­ing to get out.

Not long after buy­ing the man­sion, Led­er noticed groups of peo­ple would stop out front and peer up into the win­dows.

“I thought, ‘What are they look­ing at?’ ” she said.

After chas­ing down a group of onlook­ers, she learned that her house is a stop on sev­er­al Den­ver ghost tours and that, rumor has it, a ghost is some­times seen keep­ing watch in an upstairs win­dow.

Peek in those win­dows today and you’re more like­ly to see some­one snap­ping self­ies in the new­ly Insta­gram­ma­ble inte­ri­or.

There’s the His­tor­i­cal Room, mod­eled after a sit­ting room in the late 1800s or ear­ly 1900s. It all looks very stuffy and above-board until Led­er opens a secret book­case door that leads into The LED Room, which looks exact­ly like your best friend’s ston­er brother’s base­ment cir­ca 1999, but with a bit more pol­ish.

The Ladies Boudoir room (which even has some peri­od cloth­ing hang­ing in a dis­play) leads into a faux speakeasy, and the Green Room is mod­eled after a typ­i­cal music venue green room and includes a record play­er and ample 60s vinyl.

Oth­er rooms are pure, unadul­ter­at­ed self­ie can­dy.

“Everything’s about the pho­to­graph,” Led­er said. “Ins­ta. Tik­Tok. You name it.”

The Weed Room is the most pop­u­lar room, equipped with a throne, swing and walls cov­ered in (faux) cannabis leaves. The Mary Jane in a Mar­i­jua­na Won­der­land Room is decked out with a col­or­ful and super-Insta­gram­ma­ble mur­al by artist Ellie Pais­ley. Sev­er­al of the artist-cre­at­ed rooms are more rem­i­nis­cent of Meow Wolf-inspired “immer­sive art exhi­bi­tions” that usu­al­ly come with a steep tick­et price and long lines.

If you’re lucky enough to get a peek in the base­ment, you’ll find a door­way that leads to nowhere. When the Den­ver Fire Depart­ment came out to inspect the build­ing, they found the tun­nel — not shown in any of the build­ing plans or blue­prints for the man­sion — that leads from the base­ment of the house to the car­riage house. But some­time in the last 131 years, the tun­nel was sealed shut on both ends, and no one knows why or what’s inside.

The Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion is avail­able for pri­vate tours, at $25 a per­son. But the space feels most ide­al for pri­vate events, which unfor­tu­nate­ly are the only occa­sions when you can actu­al­ly con­sume cannabis here, even with the dis­pen­sary just out back.

While we could see some pret­ty epic cannabis indus­try par­ties here once the world goes back to nor­mal, for now, Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion — much like the equal­ly pho­to­genic Inter­na­tion­al Church of Cannabis in Wash Park — is the kind of des­ti­na­tion can­na-tourists often seek out for self­ies.

“Tourists are always think­ing of Den­ver as cannabis tourism,” Led­er said. “We’re still the orig­i­nal cannabis lead­ers in the coun­try.”

And we’ve got our own Mar­i­jua­na Man­sion to prove it.

Sub­scribe to our week­ly newslet­ter, In The Know, to get enter­tain­ment news sent straight to your inbox.

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