Is Ogden’s historic Browning Mansion home to more than just the living?
Oct 30, 2023, 10:54 PM | Updated: Oct 31, 2023, 4:58 pm
OGDEN — Jake Cox and Jackie Loveland aren’t the kind to believe that their house is haunted.
“I’m an absolute skeptic,” Cox smiled from his from his front room, where an Ouija board sat motionless on the coffee table.
The couple moved into the historic John M. Browning Mansion, 505 27th Street, in March 2018 and have been the proud caretakers ever since.
Originally constructed in 1899 and completed in 1900, the house served as the family home of famed firearm designer John Moses Browning, Jan. 23, 1855-Nov. 26, 1926).
“Where I’m standing, Utah’s state gun – the (Browning model M1911 automatic pistol) would have been invented here in this room,” said Loveland as she pointed around a third-floor bedroom she said was once Browning’s workshop. “When he was working from home, it was here.”
Cox and Loveland have even established a nonprofit to raise money to fund renovation and restoration work with the ultimate plan of opening a museum.
“We’re not trying to be another (John M. Browning Firearms Museum),” Loveland said. “We want to kind of be the other side of the coin about the Brownings and the Browning family and just kind of Ogden history in general.”
Unexplained Feelings and Events
Though Loveland likes the idea of “metaphorical ghosts,” she said she hadn’t seen a real one in the couple’s more than five years there.
That doesn’t mean, however, she hasn’t felt something energetically off about the house — from the inexplicably disorienting third floor to the basement, which features a hidden, brick crawl space of unknown origin or purpose that runs an undetermined length under the house.
“This is just spooky,” Loveland said while standing in the boiler room. “I guess you could say the basement is creepier than the rest of the house.”
There have also been numerous sounds in the house the couple can’t quite explain away as simply caused by their cats.
“There have been times, plenty of times that I’ve heard footsteps on the third floor,” Cox said.
Earlier in the month, Cox heard a door close without explanation.
“I had headphones on but I still heard it — like a door slamming,” Cox said. “And everyone was upstairs — there was no one else here, so that was kind of weird.”
Weirder still was the time when the couple heard a loud crash in their podcast recording studio on the third floor, an area where their cats are never allowed.
They got out of bed to find that a large microphone that is sturdily set on a weighted base had somehow been knocked off the table.
“(It was) knocked down to the ground and back underneath the table and I have no idea,” Loveland said. “It wasn’t weirdly balanced or anything like that, precarious.”
Loveland also noted there were some stories of possible hauntings in the 123-year-old history of the house, which also previously served as a YWCA home.
She said recently a woman toured the house and said she had stayed there in 1953.
“It would have been right in the early days when they were setting up emergency housing for girls,” Loveland said. “She told us a story that she came home one night and went to bed. She was exhausted, laid down in bed. She said that she felt, she was laying on her side with her arm out and she felt a woman’s hand just kind of take her hand.”
With questions about the mysterious noises and feelings in the house, Cox and Loveland agreed to allow KSL and the Western Association for the Science of the Paranormal (W.A.S.P. Utah) to investigate the property.
Stephanie Black Cowan, a psychic medium who is part of the group, did a preliminary tour of the house and keyed on the letters “LRY” in the basement boiler room, which she interpreted as Leroy or Larry.
According to John Moses Browning’s family tree, Austin Leroy Browning was a son of John Moses Browning who died as a small child in 1883.
Cowan also sensed a fire in multiple places in the home, which Loveland confirmed happened earlier in the house’s history.
Additionally, she picked on what she described as a “very strong, protective male” energy in the second-floor bedroom, similar to an energy Loveland said that offered a “calm feeling of protection and safety and just peace.”
Armed with that information, Chris Harmon and the W.A.S.P. Utah investigators entered the home to see what they could uncover with various devices aimed at facilitating communication with any possible energies or spirits in the house (see W.A.S.P. Utah’s video here).
Using a Structured Light Sensor Camera — which is capable of identifying forms in a field of projected light beams — the team detected figures in the basement.
One figure in the boiler room area appeared to interact with the investigators by pointing at a light.
Nearer to the entrance of the crawl space in the basement, the crew detected another figure that seemed to respond intelligently.
“Can you wave your left hand?” investigator Sam Arky instructed as he held the SLS camera. “There it is — left hand!”
Arky and Harmon both seemed startled by the figure’s ability to communicate with them.
“It was right hand, wave, left hand, wave,” Arky remarked.
Harmon said he ultimately had to leave the area when something didn’t feel right and he also felt a sharp sensation around his left shoulder.
The crew in particular seemed to get even more intelligent interaction in the second-floor bedroom.
There, a REM pod—which can emit sounds and light when it detects a strong energy close to or touching it — started go off wildly after it was placed on the bed, as did another device that supposedly gives off light in the direction of a nearby energy.
Cowan remarked that the devices seemed to activate when male investigators entered the room, which she believed coincided with the male protective energy she felt.
“The minute you came in, Andrew (Adams), immediately he got a little bit uneasy,” Cowan said. “(He) did not like men being in his room.”
The investigators attempted to directly contact John Moses Browning, to which a “portal” device supposedly designed to allow spirits to communicate through it started speaking in some clear answers.
“Mr. Browning?” Cowan called out to the darkened bedroom.
“Yep,” the device seemed to reply.
Additionally, the investigators what they described as the sounds of “gunshots” coming through the portal device, which seemed unusually relevant to the one-time home of a famed firearms designer.
After a lengthy investigative session, Cowan asked, “Mr. Browning, would you like us to leave,” and the portal device clearly replied, “yes.”
“We got definitely something very interesting in that room,” Harmon told Loveland.
Loveland, who like her husband largely remains a skeptic, said she did believe that residual energies can hang around a place.
She hoped that if there were any Browning family members who still resided in the home or visited occasionally, they would know the house is loved by its current owners.
“Are they okay with us being here, with what we’re doing — and that’s one thing I would love to know,” Loveland said. “Everybody leaves their mark, I guess.”