a Denver house that inspired a ghostly film

renting a home or apartment is serious business. a lot goes into the rental process: what neighborhood to live in, how far the commute to work is, what the nightlife is like, safety, budget, etc. but there’s one thing that’s often not taken into account when searching for a place to live: if the previous “residents” have vacated the premises entirely…

such is the case of Russell Hunter (1929-1996), who relocated from New York to Denver in the 1960’s. Hunter, a former employee of CBS, settled in the city’s Cheesman Park neighborhood. despite it’s natural beauty nestled in an urban landscape, the area has a rather spooky history. Mr. Hunter claimed he experienced paranormal activity in the form of loud banging noises early in the morning, faucets that turned themselves on, and – the scariest of all – the spirit of a boy who died a century earlier and had revealed his burial spot, where Hunter unearthed human remains and a baptism medal. a seance also confirmed the boy came from a wealthy family, and was set to inherit a fortune. however, he died before that could happen so his parents went to an orphanage and found a boy who looked just like him in order to claim the money. several years later, the house where the boy’s bones were found was demolished, and replaced with a high-rise building. but the incident stayed with Hunter, and inspired him to write the story for what would become The Changeling, ranked as one of the most beloved and haunting films of the 1980’s. while there are some differences between Russell Hunter’s account and the fictionalized version (for instance, the story is set in Seattle as opposed to Denver), the sentiment remains the same: do some digging (not literally) before you sign a lease.


the real Russell Hunter (right) and his fictionalized self, played by Oscar-winner George C. Scott (left)





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