The Titanic exhibit on display at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science has renewed interest in Molly Brown, Denver’s own Titanic survivor.
The place to really learn all about Molly, more likely known as Margaret Brown or Mrs. J.J. Brown in her lifetime, is at the Molly Brown House in downtown Denver on Pennsylvania Street.
Steph MacCarter is a docent, or tour guide, at the house and said Molly Brown has a much richer history than just simply being a Titanic survivor.
“Even though she was wealthy and moved in those circles, at heart, she was a humanitarian,” said MacCarter.
Molly was born in Mississippi and married J.J. Brown, who made his fortune at Colorado’s Little Johnny Mine.
“They were Denver society,” said MacCarter. “When they moved to Denver, the governor gave them a reception.”
The couple bought what is now the Molly Brown house in 1889. It has been restored to how it looked in 1910.
“We have pictures from that year. Margaret had a photographer come here and take pictures. She also left notes about the colors. We know the parlor walls were red. We know her bedroom was green.”
Even though the house was built before the turn of the century, it had cutting edge technology for its day.
“They had the latest amenities,” said MacCarter. “When it was built in 1889 it had electricity, it had a telephone. It had central heating and running water.”
Her house wasn’t the only thing that was cutting edge; Brown’s philosophy was as well. She is credited with designing the juvenile court system on which the modern national system is based. She founded the Dumb Friends League and ran for the United States Senate in 1914.
“She believed women should be treated equally, along with men. That mean serving in the military,” said MacCarter.
That fair-mindedness came into play when the Titanic went down. “She didn’t believe that women and children should have been saved ahead of men on the Titanic.”
As the Titanic was sinking, Brown took action, encouraging the women in her lifeboat to row and preserve. And her commitment to Titanic survivors did not stop once they safely reached shore.
“She continued to work with those survivors for many years,” MacCarter said. “That’s what I think made her famous.”
It was not until after her death in 1932 that Margaret Brown really shook off the Victorian mantle to become the woman the world knows as “Molly.”
“Her spirit is Molly to use and we call her Molly today.”
- For more information, visit www.mollybrown.org.