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Cheeseman’s Haunting Memories

One of my first Haunt Jaunts blog posts was about Cheeseman Park in Denver, Colorado. Of the 740 plus posts HJ has published, that one now has the most comments.

True, some of them are mine. Replies I’ve made to comments left by others. In most cases, the comments were made by others who also attended the small, private school that used to sit on the park’s edge. Some knew it as the Peter Pan School for Boys and Girls. Some, like myself, knew it as Cheeseman Academy.

The post sparked an impromptu reunion of sorts. Old classmates reconnected. Memories were shared.

For me, the best thing was the pictures. I never thought I’d see the school again. I used to dream about it a lot. Of the park, the front entrance, the gymnasium, and the place in the school I dreaded above all others: Mrs. Mitchell’s office. She was the vice principal and the scariest woman I ever met.

But sometimes the dream would turn from happy recollections of my bygone youth into nightmares of a benevolent force that haunted the attic. In my dreams, as it had been in real life, the third floor was off limits. But in my dreams I’d be chased by unseen phantoms to the lower level, or out of the building entirely.

It’s been years and years since I had any dreams involving Cheeseman Academy. The last dream I remember vividly. It had a final feeling to it. It was also so full of sadness. And the specters that had always tormented me when they’d appeared before seemed to want my help.

 Instead of chasing me from the building, they kept pushing me in. Almost herding me to another room us kids spent a lot of time in, the lunchroom. Others were gathered there. Old teachers I hadn’t ever dreamed of before, much less thought about in years. Parents. Other kids.

It perplexed me until one time when I was home for a visit in the 1990s and we were driving near the park.

“Oooh! Can we drive past Cheeseman?” I asked my sister.

Knowing I meant the school not the park she said, “It’s not there anymore. They tore it down.”

“What? When?”

“I don’t know exactly. It’s been a while now.”

I was devastated. Heart broken in fact. I felt like I’d just learned a cherished friend had died.

I instantly thought of the last Cheeseman dream I’d had. Had the school and its ghosts been saying goodbye in a way?

Then it really hit me. I’d never get to go back and walk the halls as an adult. I’d never get to see it one last time. I was grief-stricken.

I hoped maybe I was mistaken. Maybe I would dream of the school again someday. At least I’d be able to visit it that way and see it again.

It still hasn’t happened.

However, the alum of Cheeseman have pulled together and created a group on Facebook called, what else? Cheeseman Academy Alumni (formerly Peter Pan School for Girls ad Boys).

In addition to tons of memories, people have even shared something I find most precious of all: pictures of the school. Like this one:

Cheeseman Academy before the new wing was added on. Photo from Shelley Resnick.

Shelley scanned it from an old brochure she had. It looks slightly different than when I attended. By the time I got there the right side had been added on to. That’s where the gymnasium stood.

On Facebook an alum named Scott shared a pic he took of the school before it was demolished. Even though the trees were unkempt and the lawn overgrown, it was the school I remembered.

Seeing it again has made my heart both happy and sad. Happy because I can see it again. It’s brought back a flood of memories.

But that’s what also makes me sad. That it’s gone and all that remains are our memories.

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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19 thoughts on “Cheeseman’s Haunting Memories

  1. Wow, that place had character. I can’t see my old elementary school anymore, but that’s due to the ugly flesh-colored trailers they’ve parked in front full-time to serve as additional classrooms since apparently no budget to build the real deal.

  2. Ick! How awful! So sad there’s no funding for education. It breaks my heart when I hear more stories like that. Which happen more and more these days. Something’s gotta give and change.

    Ooops…getting off track. Sorry. I’m easily distracted you see…

    THANKS for the comment! And “character” is an excellent way to describe the school. 😉

  3. b4 chesseman waz a park, it waz a cematary, then they removed the grave markers but not the graves, wich can still be seen from above the park from the surounding apartment complexes. so keep that in mind the nex time u stroll accross chesseman park in denver colorado.

  4. Hey Mutant Buzzard (what an awesome moniker, btw!). Yes, I was aware of the cemetery, but NOT that you could spy evidence of it even today by way of the surrounding condos. Very cool. I gotta find someone with a bird’s eye view to let me come take a peep some time. 😉

  5. I attended Cheeseman Academy from kindergarten through 4th grade. I left because the school was closing. I too dream of the 3rd floor attic. I recall feeling as if there were spirits or something in the building. The school was so majestic, so beautiful with its wood paneling. Ms. Mitchell was frightening. I remember tripping and falling down the metal stairs in the back of the house when we walked out of art class for lunch and then we walked to the park for recess. The girls enjoyed playing house and sweeping up the pine needles from under the trees. I remember Blue Spruce and Larkspur were the names of our classrooms. And lunch in the big, beautiful dining room was always fun. The gym right off the front door was where we sat on the floor and played jacks and kickball when the weather was inclement. I used to look out of the big windows and wait for my mom to pick me up. I’m so grateful for the time I spent there.

  6. Janet, we must’ve known each other. I would’ve been in 6th grade. But I swear your memories are ones I could’ve written. I remember all those things! Except looking out the window for my mom. I rarely watched in wait. I was always sort of sad to leave my friends and have the day be done. But everything else? Yep. You nailed it! Thanks for leaving a comment!

  7. Thanks for the photo of the old “Peter Pan” school. I didn’t have one and will use this one in my photo book as “schools attended”.

  8. I went to Peter Pan School when it was a boarding school for girls only. About 1936 to 1941. The headmistress was Mr.s Maude Miller. (No one, even my mother) dared call her Maude!). When I was there she had a little baby boy. My brother, Jere, was the first boy student when he was to start second grade and Jay was ready for first grade. That year, I was a day student in the 6th grade. It was after that that boys were allowed. I have many wonderful memories of that great school! There were about 6-8 boarding students then. I have written a little book of memoirs about those years. It can be found on Fast Pencil’s web-site as “Growing up With Peter Pan.”

  9. Oh wow, Janet! Congrats on writing a book about Peter Pan School. And you are SO write about Mrs. Miller…I knew her name was Maude, but she was strictly Mrs. Miller to me. How neat you got to sleep in that school as a boarding student. I’ll have to check out your memoirs. Thanks for the comment!

  10. It’s nice to see all these comments. I went to Peter Pan from 1957-1961. I remember Mrs. Miller very well. She was a true educator. I have fond memories of my days at Peter Pan and playing in beautiful Cheeseman Park. My favorite teacher at the school was Mrs. Boal. Mrs. Miller’s son, Jay, was just entering The Air Force Academy when I was attending Peter Pan. She was so proud of him. Every Christmas, we would put on a play and it would be televised live on channel 9. In the spring we would take part in an operetta and it would be held at Phipps Auditorium. Good times!

  11. Wow. Such fantastic memories, Vicki. So glad you found the thread and that you took the time to share your memories. This is proving what a magical school and how much it impacted all of us indeed!

  12. I too attended Cheeseman Academy, early 80s. I was in fourth grade and although I remember Mrs Miller, she was not teaching. Her son and his wife were running the school and living across the street in the Miller home. I don’t remember my teachers name but for cursive and art I had Ms Gruesome and she was so mean! I had so many memories there in such a short time… “For all we eat, for all we wear, for all we have everywhere we thank thee Heavenly Father, amen”. Did anyone else say that at school before meals? I wish it were still there so I could show my children the house where I got a great education. My mother also attended school there when it was Peter Pan, but I don’t know what years.

  13. I never thought I would find a web site with information on Peter Pan. I attended from around 1955-1961 and my mother and aunt attended before me. My education was great but, at that time, I found the emotional environment not that great. In one of those spring productions I was ‘the fortune teller’ and someone innocently pushed me out in front of the curtain between scenes. I ran across the stage trying to look like a gypsy. When I got to the other side ‘MRS. MILLER’ promptly slapped me across the face for having stepped out in front of the audience. Mrs. Boal slapped me in the 4th grade for not paying attention in a boys and girls dance class. Mrs. Judge, my first grade teacher, slammed me down in my desk when I was raising my hand to go to bathroom (shortly before having surgery for a benign bladder tumor) and I wet all around my desk. I now have a master’s in the field of psychology. lol

  14. Oh my gosh, this has been wonderful to read about. I went to Peter Pan from 1961 and 1962. Wish I could access the facebook page, but it must have been removed. Would LOVE to see pictures. I remember the auditorium and dining room. In first grade my first room class was Tinkerbell, 2nd grade was crocodiles. Great memories.

  15. Oh no. I’m sad to hear the Facebook site is no more. It was fun to see people connecting/sharing their memories there. Thanks for leaving your thoughts on the school!

  16. Courtney,
    I might have been wrong. I think I found the and asked to join.

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