Saturday, September 11, 2010

Local haunts - Maribel caves and hotel hell

This article is by Kathie Kessler

Central Wisconsin Paranormal Examiner

Portal To Hell

(Hotel Hell/ Maribel Hotel (Notice the flowers blooming in the supposed 'Portal to Hell".
Photo: Kathie Kessler)

Located in the eastern part of the state, in Manitowoc County, lies the small town of Maribel. Population...less that 400. Supposedly, in this quaint, rural town lies the portal to hell!

Maribel Caves were and still are a source of natural spring water and in the late 1800's a hotel/spa was built near there for people to enjoy the relaxing and therapeutic benefits of the natural spring water. Eventually, a bottling plant was built near-by which bottled and sold the spring water to upscale restaurants and hotels from Milwaukee to Chicago.

The legend says, that the building burned to the ground three times, on the exact same date. The third time, everyone in the hotel was killed as they died in their sleep and that skeletal remains can still be found. Years later it is said that a hotel patron went crazy and killed everyone in the hotel and then committed suicide.

The building is said to have once been owned by Al Capone and that witches held black masses around the circular garden in the front and somehow opened a portal to hell. A young boy was said to have been killed in the bottling plant and still haunts the property.

Truth is: The building only burned down once, in 1985 and no one was killed. There is no evidence of a mass murdering hotel patron or Al Capone ever owning the building. Although he and John Dillinger may have frequented the hotel and Capone possibly used the location for his bootlegging operations as it was half way point between Chicago and his Couderay, Wisconsin home. There is also no documentation of any child being killed in the bottling plant or a portal to hell.

The building was built by an Austrian immigrant named Charles Steinbrecker. He designed the hotel to resemble health spas he saw in Austria. Unfortunately he died in before it could be built. The hotel was finished by his sons in 1900, Father Francis Steinbrecker and Eugene Steinbrecker. It was built with limestone from the area. Thirty masons, commissioned by Father Francis completed the project in four months. The Steinbrecker family ran it as a health spa hotel and a retreat for clergy members. Father Francis died in 1927 and the hotel underwent a change of clientele including bootleggers, mobsters, and prostitutes. It was bought and sold several times until 1986 when it was purchased by the present owner.

Still, unexplained phenomenon is reported at the site. Claims of people staring from third floor windows even though there is no floor, objects levitating, books bursting into flames, noises of carriage wheels, screams, footsteps and bells ringing.

Limestone is thought to be a good conductor for residual hauntings, that combined with the natural spring and running water makes it an ideal spot for such phenomenon. Maybe the noises and apparitions are of patrons of the past, their imprint forever locked in the limestone walls.

So, what's haunting Maribel Hotel? We may never know the answer to that question. The shallow caves are part of the county park system and are easily accessible and very beautiful. The old hotel is on private property and no trespassing signs are posted. So for now, we can only wonder what's lurking behind these stone walls.

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