When Dori Spence goes to a building known to be haunted, she will generally ask if anybody is there and wait. She’ll usually get a feeling before she gets answers.
Putting on a blindfold helps open her to these paranormal experiences, since she doesn’t have to consciously think about keeping her eyes closed. Spence, a psychic medium, has over four decades of experience with ghosts and spirits and has given haunted history tours in Longmont and other Colorado cities since 2000.
Spence draws a distinction between ghosts and spirits. Ghosts are more like imprints of moments or energy, similar to a photo or a recording, while spirits are someone who has died and come back who can sometimes communicate with Spence, she said.
She added that the spirits she encounters aren’t usually malicious.
“Usually I think they come back so that they can help us with the history,” Spence said.
Sharing ghostly tales is important to the psychic because it’s another tie to history. Longmont’s well-preserved historic buildings make them especially ripe for paranormal presences, Spence explained.
“Everything that we talk about is people that are history makers,” she said. “I put on my flyers: Some gone but not forgotten, and others forgotten but maybe not gone.”
Spence was walking down the alley behind the Speakeasy, which sits in the basement of a 141-year-old building, when she saw a vision of three young men fighting.
“One was on the ground, one was on top of him stabbing him and there was another one over by the alley saying ‘Come on, come on, let’s get out of here,’” she recalled. “I didn’t even have time to put my blindfold on. I mean, I saw that and I couldn’t see what happened next after the two ran off. But I did know the guy on the ground was seriously hurt.”
She searched Longmont’s archives for some information about what happened, but couldn’t find anything. A couple years later, the owner of the basement bar asked Spence to try to communicate with a benevolent spirit she believed was hanging around the Speakeasy.
Spence said she went and asked if someone was there, and the spirit immediately responded, telling Spence that he wanted to protect the owner from any unsavory characters. He told Spence that he and his mother owned a restaurant in the basement space in the 1960s.
“I usually don’t get such details, but for some reason he and I really clicked, I guess,” Spence said.
He confirmed that he was the person stabbed in the alley and said his mother shut down the restaurant after his death, refusing to open it again.
Spence said that through her research, she did find evidence of a restaurant that opened in Longmont around that time by a mother and her son.
La Vita Bella
Spence has also investigated La Vita Bella, which sits in a 116-year-old building in downtown Longmont. She said the building started as a lodge for Woodmen of the World, a fraternal service organization.
During a séance in the upstairs part of the building, she was joined by a group with a small light that spirits can use to answer yes/no questions. After a spirit said they were present, the group started hearing the sound of sewing machines.
The spirit confirmed that there used to be sewing machines in that room. Spence put on her blindfold and saw 15 women sitting at sewing machines, making blankets and coats, which the spirit agreed were made to give to the poor.
Nearby, on a stairwell, Spence said the investigators heard a scream from a wall. When she put her blindfold on, she could see the stairwell before the wall had finished being built. As the scream rang out again, she watched a workman fall over backwards into the stairwell and all the way to the basement to his death.
“We tried to look that one up but, you know, workmen in the 1800s were probably somebody they might have pulled off the street or somebody donating their time,” Spence said.
However, Spence said pictures have been taken outside the building where a flash of light shows up halfway down the wall on the left side, where the workmen would’ve been about midfall.
Old St. Stevens Church
The Old St. Stevens Church in downtown Longmont is another historic building, completed in 1881.
“They had a hard time getting it built because it was in the middle of winter time,” Spence said. “Most of the people were living in tents or rooming with people.”
She said by the time the church was ready to service, about a third of the expected congregation — many of them children — had died of diseases. When she visited the church at the behest of an acquaintance who said many people were picking up on some sort of energy, Spence had a number of visions.
After putting on her blindfold, she saw the vision of a clothesline, attached near the church's altar to one of the large windows. Hanging from it was a child’s pinafore, an adult pinafore and a heavy black coat.
It turned out that someone had recently taken an accidental photo as they pulled out a camera. In the picture, Spence said you could see in the left hand corner the black coat and a child’s pinafore.
As she explored, Spence also saw a number of baptisms.
“Then I noticed the baby they were baptizing was dead,” she said. “That kind of thing is still an emotional enough shock to my system that it takes me out, like waking up from a bad dream.”
According to Spence, the church believed it necessary to baptize dead infants before burying them.
The medium psychic gives haunted Longmont tours twice a month April through November, with several more stories at the many buildings throughout downtown. Find more information at www.kindredspiritsociety.org.