DENVER (CBS4) – Next month marks the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, a disaster that has a historical connection to Denver. A legendary survivor of the Titanic’s last voyage called Denver home.
Margaret Brown’s life seemed to be one adventure after another, right up to the night of April 15, 1912. On that fateful night she sat in Lifeboat No. 6 and tried to persuade the passengers and crew to return to the Titanic and rescue those struggling in the water. She also encouraged women in her lifeboat to row instead of just letting the men do the work.
On Broadway and in Hollywood she has been celebrated over the years as the “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” But Margaret, also known to some as Mrs. J.J. Brown, has a much richer history than just for her Titanic experience.
Watch Greg Moody’s report about the Molly Brown House Museum, which is holding special events in observance of the Titanic sinking anniversary, in the video clip below:
“Even though she was wealthy and moved in those circles, at heart, she was a humanitarian,” said Steph MacCarter, an expert on Brown’s life who is also a docent, or tour guide, at the Molly Brown House Museum in downtown Denver on Pennsylvania Street.
She was born in Mississippi and married J.J. Brown, who made his fortune at Colorado’s Little Johnny Mine.
“They were Denver society,” MacCarter told CBS4 in a recent interview. “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,” he said.
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.”
The fabulous and family friendly guided tours at the Molly Brown House Museum last 45 minutes and are offered every 30 minutes, Tuesday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-3:30 p.m.; Sundays, noon-3:30 p.m. Adults, $8, children 6-12, $4. Special Titanic-themed tours are available by advance reservation (adults, $10, children 6-12, $6).
CBS4 Critic at Large recommends checking out the gift shop, where you’ll find a fascinating collection of books about the Titanic.
LOCATION: 1340 Pennsylvania St., Denver
CONTACT: http://www.mollybrown.org or (303) 832-4092, extension 10
– Greg Moody is CBS4’s Critic At Large. His reports on CBS4 News are featured on the CBSDenver.com Entertainment section.