The Ghosts of Henry Webber House
The Henry Webber House sits in Pioneer Park, on West Bleeker Street. The home dates back farther than the park and has a strange story attached to it – a story that seems to have lead to many stories about the ghosts of Henry Webber House, or at least one ghost in particular.
There are a couple of different stories as to why the home is haunted, but most people agree on one particular ghost roaming throughout the home. The tragic death of Harriet Webber will have you agreeing that she never left the house after making her way to the grave, tragically.
Aspen, being the boomtown it once was, has a bit of a depressing history for people who walked away poor after the silver dried up. While Henry Webber did well for himself, his wife Harriet may have suffered deep loneliness for a couple of reasons.
The History of the Henry Webber House
Aspen’s popularity as a silver boom city was what initially attracted many people to the area long before it became an extremely popular destination for skiing vacations. The mining town made many investors wealthy, including a man named Henry Webber. While Webber worked as a shoe merchant, he managed to make a killing investing in the silver boom, which allotted him the funds to build his home in 1880. It was a brick home, unlike many of the other homes in the area at the time.
When Webber and his wife moved to Aspen to live and build a home, Harriet was one of a very small number of ladies living in Aspen. There were only about a dozen women living in the town full of prospecting men. Perhaps the lack of women-folk in the city had something to do with Harriet’s depression and ultimate demise, or maybe it was something more sinister.
Harriet Webber’s Death
Harriet Webber died in 1881, and while it was known what killed her, there was still some speculation as to how it happened. Mrs. Webber died of an overdose on over-the-counter tranquilizers. The drugs she was on were commonly taken at the time for stress relief, and the pill bottle was found by her dead body.
What made the case confusing, and had people pointing their fingers at Henry, was that the last words Harriet spoke were, “Henry will know.” Those three words caused some people to speculate that perhaps he had something to do with her death.
To add to Webber’s possible guilt in the death of his wife, he was having an affair with his wife’s niece, Julia. Shortly after Harriet died, the philandering widower married the niece. The rumors about Harriet’s death dissipated quickly, and Henry became city treasurer, and then the Mayor – Harriet’s death wouldn’t keep him from moving up in the world. Even a rumor about Webber abandoning a previous wife and children before marrying Harriet didn’t keep the man down.
These speculations alone are enough to give Harriet every reason to hang around the home she died in. Her ghost may be looking to tell someone what actually happened to her – whether her own extreme melancholia drove her to overdose or if someone else fed her the pills, be it her husband or her niece, hoping to have him all to herself.
The Ghosts of Henry Webber House
Webber used some of the money he’d made to work on building Pioneer Park with his new wife. It was an extension of the house, which now runs as a public park where people can visit and enjoy a picnic or sitting in the gazebo. The thing is, while all was quiet when the couple started construction, they soon started having a paranormal guest visiting them – one that would make it difficult for Webber to enjoy his successes. It seemed that Harriet had returned to her home.
Harriet was no longer resting peacefully. Perhaps she was jealous that her niece was helping with the expansion of her home and property, something she wished she could be there to experience – and was, in a way. It’s possible in her abrupt death, Harriet the ghost didn’t even realize that she was dead, and all of the noises she makes are just her going about her usual daily routine.
The couple experienced all sorts of activity in the house. Footsteps were regularly heard throughout the home when they were there alone, and they even heard them on the rooftop when no one should be up there. Even eerier than that, they would see and hear doors and windows in the home opening on their own before slamming shut. They had all of the usual bumps in the night, keeping them awake and worrying about what, or who, was in there with them
Not all of the spooky happenings around the house were “vocal,” loud noises and slamming doors aren’t the only signs of a haunting. The couple reported overwhelming feelings of sadness in certain areas of the home – perhaps this was Harriet’s preference over causing cold spots. That deep sadness seemed to seep into Julia’s soul.
There were reports that Julia became very depressed while living in their Aspen home with the ghost of her aunt haunting them. It could also be that her depression stemmed from an inability to provide Webber with an heir.
Julia was often seen sitting at an upper window in the home, staring out at nothing for hours. This commonly witnessed action led the people of the town to begin starting rumors about the distraught woman talking to herself and going insane. Perhaps she was speaking to Harriet’s ghost, and that was the cause of her depression and madness.
What’s Under Pioneer Park?
Once upon a time, a cemetery stood where Pioneer Park sits right now. Some people in Aspen believe that the removal of the cemetery woke up spirits or let out some bad energy that haunts the space now, including the hauntings of the Henry Webber House.
The cemetery wasn’t moved for in order to build the home, but rather because it had already fallen into disrepair. No matter – disturbing graves has a way of causing paranormal events, even if it’s done for the good of the cemetery. Perhaps some of the bodies were left behind in the move because of missing gravestones, though that’s not always the case.
The House After Henry’s Death
Webber passed away in 1911, but the house wouldn’t sit empty. A blacksmith bought the house and moved in with his family, who all experienced the same spooky things that Webber did. Another family moved into the home in 1944 to just as much paranormal activity.
Walter Paepcke lived in the Henry Webber House as well, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the Webber-Paepcke House. Paepcke is notable for founding the Aspen Institute, where he may be a resident ghost himself, and the Aspen Skiing Company – two things that helped drive tourism in the 1950s in Aspen and turn the town into the vacation destination it is now. It’s likely that Paepcke experienced the ghostly events in the home while he lived there as well.
The carriage house on the property was a momentary home for Albert Schweitzer when Paepcke lived there. He came in to do a keynote speech, and today that carriage is known as the Schweitzer Cottage. The cottage is a private residence and doesn’t seem to get the paranormal activity that happens in the primary residence.
The Webber-Paepcke House was a lucky abode, never really risking getting torn down even in its old age. In 1987 the house was added to the National Register of Historic Places, which protects it from demolition and helps keep it look like it originally did when it was built. This was an important step, as it is the only home in the city that is in the second empire architectural style.
Pioneer Park is a beautiful place to visit, and as long as you’re not inside the main house, you may not experience any ghostly happenings. However, the spectral bumps in the night in the Henry Webber House may never settle, at least not until Harriet is ready to finally move on. One can only speculate as to why Harriet came back after death, or what her purpose is in haunting her former home, even long after her cheating husband passed on.