The Molly Brown House Museum preserves the home of the RMS Titanic’s most famous survivor, “The Unsinkable” Molly Brown. She also was a legendary figure in Denver and Leadville society and a committed social reformer.
Margaret Tobin Brown made a fortune from a Leadville gold mine before she became famous for surviving the 1912 sinking of the Titanic, which led to even greater fame after her death through the 1960s film musical, “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”
Brown, who grew up in Missouri, moved to Leadville at the age of 19 and worked as a clerk in a dry-goods store. She married mining engineer J.J. Brown, who developed a method of shoring up mine walls so that mines could be dug deeper, which led to the 1893 discovery of gold in the Little Johnny Mine. Brown was rewarded with a one-eighth ownership in the mine, which made the Browns millionaires.
The Browns moved to Denver in 1894 and purchased a home that had been built in 1889 for silver baron Isaac Large and his wife, Mary. Architect William Lang had combined Queen Anne, Romanesque, and neoclassical styles, using rhyolite, a rough, reddish stone, complemented by smooth red sandstone. Lang also incorporated stained-glass windows and ornamental wood panels on the exterior, and the interior featured all of the comforts of the time, with electricity, indoor plumbing, steam heat and telephone lines.
After moving to Denver, Molly Brown worked to create a juvenile court system, promote cultural diversity, and support the arts. She also helped found the Denver Dumb Friends League and saved poet Eugene Field’s home from demolition. After gaining national fame from the Titanic disaster, she fought industrialist John D. Rockefeller over the rights of southern Colorado coal miners in the aftermath of the Ludlow Massacre, worked with Alice Paul to promote women’s suffrage, and ran for the U.S. Senate in 1914, six years before women gained the right to vote at the federal level.
The Browns separated in 1909 but never divorced before J.J. Brown’s death in 1922. Molly Brown got the home in the settlement and owned it until her death in 1932.
The home was threatened with demolition until Historic Denver Inc. bought it in 1970. The nonprofit restored the house to turn-of-the-century opulence and opened it as a museum. Today, the museum offers 45-minute guided tours throughout the day.