(Back to Wisconsin
Kewaunee Inn –
Haunted Place: The
(formerly the Historic Karsten Inn
The Kewaunee Inn
(formerly the Historic Karsten Inn)
122 Ellis Street
Kewaunee, WI 54216
Historic Kewaunee Inn web site
Kewaunee Inn, formerly known as The Historic Karsten Inn, can be
found just one block east of Highway 42, and one block from the
beautiful shores of Lake Michigan. It is two hours north of
Milwaukee, 40 minutes from Green Bay, and on the way to Wisconsin's
popular recreation area, "The Dells".
The Historic Kewaunee Inn is a three-story, 23 room, historical
Victorian/Arts and Crafts, 1912 brick hotel, that has been kept in
good shape throughout the years by owners who truly loved this
place. An elegant yet comfortable lobby, an impressive historical
Tap Bar with lovely stained glass, around its original wooden
Karsten bar, a huge, airy dining room, friendly atmosphere,
beautiful woodwork and antiques, plus great traditional hospitality
offered by Mayor John and Mary Blaha, welcome the guest into the
Victorian/early twentieth-century era.
Walking into the hotel through the covered front porch, the
beauty of this hotel is there, for all to see; like stepping back
into the historical, Karsten family hotel. The hard work and love
put into this hotel by all the past owners still shines forth. Such
details as the lovely reconstructed 1912 reception desk, the fine
Victorian decor on the ceiling, the grand lobby with an aura of
friendliness, the glorious, wood-floored ballroom/dining room and
the elegantly carved staircase are all lovely to behold!
Each floor has its own sitting area, where there is a
refrigerator with complementary drinks, and other treats. A lovely
continental breakfast is also available in this sitting area. The
hallways on the second and third floors are really wide, giving the
rooms more space and privacy. The hotel's themed, comfortable and
airy 23 rooms offer King, Queen, and Double bed accommodations,
with many having a huge jacuzzi in the bathroom.
The HauntedHouses.com Paranormal Investigation Team, made
up of three very differently skilled investigators; Joe Couto, Kale
Kelly and Dave Olsen, plus one incredibly talented psychic medium,
Lori Manns, came for a weekend to investigate here and be filmed
for a hauntedhouses.com project.
Tom and I came along too and stayed a night on the beautiful,
haunted third floor. We fell in love with the place. We stayed in
Room 311, and enjoyed the huge jacuzzi bath tub, a lovely queen
bed, TV, a fridge, a nice, big heater, a desk, and lights to read
by! A lovely, extra warm comforter was offered if needed as well.
We didn't hear anything all night when the investigators were
coming and going to the rooms just across from us, as they
investigated most of the night.
Since 1858, it has been proven that a large hotel in this spot
could be profitable. In 1836, the city of Kewaunee was chosen to be
the site of a trading post, because of its natural harbor. By 1858,
Kewaunee was a booming port town for lumber and commerce, whereas
many as 20 schooners and steamers arriving each day, for both
commercial enterprises and carrying passengers/settlers as well,
making the need for a large hotel evident.
So in 1858, Charles Brandes built a wooden structure called,
"The Steamboat House" to accommodate visitors. The Steamboat House
had a large ballroom that was used for community dances, events of
all kinds, and even served as a Kewaunee County Courtroom, until
Edward Decker bought the hotel in 1864 and sold it just one year
later, in 1865, to John Erichsen, who changed the name to "The
Erichsen Hotel". John Erichsen enjoyed running this hotel until he
died, in 1911. William Karsten then bought the hotel in November of
1911, from Mrs. Erichsen. However, a fire that started in the
kitchen, in 1912, burned down this wooden hotel in four hours. It
was reported that the cause of the fire was an accident, and no one
William Karsten received almost all of his money back from the
fire insurance and made lemonade out of lemons by rebuilding the
hotel of his dreams. During 1912, Karsten rebuilt a luxurious,
three story brick hotel with a large lobby and sitting room, a
fabulous bar, a huge dining room/ballroom and a basement, costing
$60,000!!! Some of the money was raised through private investors,
and the hotel was managed by Karsten's company, Karsten Hotel
Company. This labor of love was renamed "The Hotel Karsten,"
offering 52 rooms for their many guests, opening up once again on
February 14, 1913. The dining room could feed 90 people at once.
The bar had its own entrance and was located in the ground floor
William Karsten at this point in his life was a retired Sea
Captain who had made his money establishing Pabst Brewing Company
in Kewaunee. He was the Mayor of Kewaunee, and was quite a heavy
fellow, a whopping 375 pounds! All through his life he was blessed
with excellent health, never catching any of the diseases which
plagued sailing vessels and turn-of-the-century towns. Even with
this weight, he lived until he was 78, and died of a heart attack
in his hotel suite, on January fourth, 1940.
Always a gregarious fellow, despite his weight and arthritis
problems, William Karsten's personality changed when the love of
his life, his wife Catherine, died in 1928. He was lonely and not
very happy, but found pleasure in looking at the view of Kewaunee
Harbor and Lake Michigan from his second floor suite; (rooms
205-210). Another joy of his was sharing his memories with guests
while sitting in his favorite chair in a fancy lobby. Most of all,
William Karsten enjoyed the company of his very special grandson,
William "Billy" Karsten III.
When William Karsten, Sr. retired, his son, William Karsten,
Jr., ran the Hotel Karsten. Because William Karsten, Jr. spent so
much time at the hotel, his young son, Billy Karsten III spent
every minute he could with his adoring grandpa, William Karsten,
Sr. The two of them were kindred spirits. Oddly, three weeks after
William Karsten, Sr. died, young Billy became very ill and died in
the hospital of complications of Hemophilus influenza Meningitis,
at the age of 5.
The Karsten Hotel Company sold the Hotel Karsten, in 1948. Many
owners followed, who owned it for 5-8 years. Hersche Hardy, Hardy
International Hotel Company bought this property, in 1950, lasting
8 years as the owners. Mr. and Mrs. Otto Hoffman of Frontier
Properties became the owners, in 1958, and owned this property for
6 years. The Hotel Karsten by this time needed a boatload of money
to upgrade the features of this now aging hotel.
In 1964, The Hotel Karsten closed and the building stood idle
for two years. In 1966, new owners bought this fixer upper
opportunity. Brothers Charles and John Schmitt were a pair of hardy
entrepreneurs with bold plans and lots of renovation fervor. They
changed the name of the hotel again to "Schmitt's Coach Inn," and
proceeded to give this aging hotel a much needed "facelift."
Brothers Charles and John put in a new boiler, a concrete floor
in the basement, a sprinkler system throughout the hotel, paneling
in the lobby and walnut room, dining room and bar, plumbing and
wiring, new fixtures, and paneling & carpeting on the 2nd
floor. The brothers opened 26 rooms on the 3rd floor, restoring
water, heating, and plumbing to all the rooms. The Schmitt brothers
added ceramic tile in all the bathrooms, and repaired the roofing.
In 1970, they enclosed the front porch, and restored the curved
stain glass in the Tap Bar.
Brothers Charles and John sold the hotel to Tom Gottheardt and
five other investors, in 1984, after owning it for 18 years,
breaking the 5-8 year time record for the average ownership of this
hotel. Tom Gottheardt and friends sunk the money into remodeling
and bringing up to code the basement, the first and second floors
before reopening the hotel, with its original name, "The Hotel
Owners Doug and Toni Charles bought the Hotel Karsten, in 1991,
with great plans of their own. They restored the original 1913
decor. Toni redecorated some of the third floor rooms, sprucing up
their appearance, that needed some refreshing, on this third floor.
They put the hotel to work, hosting all kinds of events.
In 1996, Dave and Therese Jacek, who were another energetic
couple, bought the hotel. Using a Victorian theme, they
reconstructed the front check-in desk, by studying old photos. They
repainted the lobby ceiling a chocolate brown, and added Victorian
wallpaper there and all around the hotel. They added many antiques
as well. They completed the renovations which both restored the
hotel to its original splendor and added more "amenities," that
people would enjoy and maybe expect. The 52 rooms were converted to
23 rooms with private bathrooms; some with a jacuzzi. The results
created a more luxurious hotel, not only steeped in beauty and
history, but also more pleasing and attractive to current
clientele. It reopened once again with a slightly new name, "The
Historic Karsten Inn".
Five years later, in 2001, Roswitha and Ron Heuer and two
foreign partners bought The Historic Karsten Inn, becoming the new
owners, with new ideas on how to plan and execute events.
Throughout their five years of ownership, they made the most of the
opportunities to use the ballroom and hotel for a variety of
events, as well as renting rooms to their guests.
They sold The Historic Karsten Inn in 2006, to another energetic
entrepreneur who changed the name of the hotel to "The Historic
Kewaunee Inn." He continued to upgrade the hotel and owned it until
November of 2012.
The Historic Kewaunee Inn, as of March third, 2013, is now owned
by the bank, and is being temporarily managed by experienced hotel
proprietors, Mayor John Blaha and his wife, Mary. The Historic
Kewaunee Inn is looking for a new owner, and has a lot to offer as
a property. It has the advantage of having owners in the past that
kept up with restoration/renovation efforts, and this 100 year old
Dame is in very good shape.
Besides having the 23 guest rooms, the possibilities to bring in
money through various events is very apparent and promising. The
Historic Kewaunee Inn has the "mother-of-all" hotel kitchens, and a
large dining/ballroom room to match. The bar is large and
historical, and the other common rooms have possibilities as well;
inviting and suitable for all kinds of parties, events, dinners,
The City of Kewaunee is a bustling place during spring to late
fall, drawing lots of people in search of summer recreation and
fall events. Tourists of all sorts come through Kewaunee when snow
isn't on the ground. Activities in the winter months, such as
retreats, receptions; (people still get married in the winter),
special events, etc., can be planned as well to help bolster
income, as many owners have done this in the past successfully.
The Historic Kewaunee Inn, as of November 2012, was owned by the bank, and was temporarily managed by experienced hotel proprietors, Mayor John Blaha and his wife, Mary. The Historic Kewaunee Inn was looking for a new owner, and has a lot to offer as a property. It has the advantage of having owners in the past that kept up with restoration/renovation efforts, and this 100 year old Dame is in very good shape.
As of May of 2013, Dave Watters from Appleton, WI, bought this property, being familiar with the Inn, and buying it with eyes wide open to The Historic Kewaunee Inn and its problems over the past several years. Mr. Watters also saw its positive qualities, and has plans in mind to revive the inn!
Besides having the 23 guest rooms, the possibilities to bring in money through various events is very apparent and promising. The Historic Kewaunee Inn has the "mother-of-all" hotel kitchens, and a large dining/ballroom room to match. The bar is large and historical, and the other common rooms have possibilities as well; inviting and suitable for all kinds of parties, events, dinners, etc.
The city of Kewaunee is a bustling place during spring to late fall, drawing lots of people in search of summer recreation and fall events. Tourists of all sorts come through Kewaunee when snow isn't on the ground. Activities in the winter months, such as retreats, receptions; (people still get married in the winter), special events, etc., can be planned as well to help bolster income, as many owners have done this in the past successfully.
HISTORY of Manifestations:
Dramatic restoration and renovation of a fixer upper opportunity
can be a huge environmental trigger to draw attached spirits back
into our world.
Mansion * Lemp
Mansion * Bullock
Hotel * Brucemore Mansion )
All the spirit activity began to happen during and after the
huge restoration/renovation efforts done by the Schmitt brothers,
People who have enormous emotional and financial ties to a
structure, that has given them emotional well-being and comfort as
well, sometimes decide to spend their after-life there, perhaps
watching the living run their business, sometimes wanting to help
Hotel * Monteleone
Hotel * Maumee
Bay Brewing Company * Olde Pink
The Hotel Karsten was the labor of love and full-time retirement
occupation of William Karsten Senior, who loved his suite and view
of the lake, talking to guests, and playing with little Billy. He
died in his favorite chair in his suite.
Family that is close during their lives in this world, will
sometimes stay with loved ones who pass over and don't want to
leave their earthly home. They too love the same structure as their
House * The
Historic Bush House Museum * The
LeDuc Mansion * Whaley
House * Kehoe
William Karsten and his little grandson were "kindred spirits";
two peas in a pod, and adored spending time together at their
favorite home in this world, their family's The Hotel Karsten, now
The Historic Kewaunee Inn.
People who identify a little too strongly with their job, and
enjoy the fulfillment that they feel while employed, will sometimes
choose to continue in their job duties after they pass over.
House * The
Barnstable House * Hotel
Bethlehem * Omaha
Central High School * Brewery
Arts Center )
The Entity of the Housekeeper, Agatha - Her history is a sad
In 1921, young Agatha was raped by a drunk neighbor near her
father's farm. She had a child as a result of the sexual assault,
whom her parents graciously raised, alongside their other seven
children. I doubt she received any therapy. Nothing is reported
about her getting any justice either. Being raped, having the
rapist's baby, and perhaps being blamed for the neighbor's crime
probably traumatized her on several levels.
Her parents needed more money, so Agatha went to work. She
became a housekeeper who worked at the Hotel Karsten, from
1925-1937, a place where she was important, valued as a housekeeper
of such a grand hotel, a positive escape from her tragic
Women who experience the heart-break of abandonment/loss of
their beloved or of unrequited love, sometimes will spend their
after-life in the place where it happened, hoping that their
beloved will find them there, or that in spirit form the man that
rejected them in this world might change his mind in the
after-life. They sometimes act upon their feelings as well.
House * John Paul
Jones House *
Longfellow's Wayside Inn * 17 Hundred
90 Inn * Magnolia's
Vineyard Restaurant Building )
It is said that Agatha fell in love with William Karsten, Sr.,
who didn't love her back; another inadvertent form of being
tortured; unrequited love. This didn't improve her feelings about
She was given a room on the third floor, "310". Some claim that
she hung herself in 1937, but the truth is that she left the Hotel
Karsten, a place she loved, to take care of her ailing father back
on the family farm. She then stayed and lived out her years there,
and died way too young, from cancer, in 1954. She never married.
Besides having a negative mind-set against men, she also perhaps
may still be carrying a torch for William Karsten.
Three known spirits recognized by name have made The Historic
Kewaunee Inn their home.
The Entity of William Karsten,
Described as being friendly and gentle, but does get upset once
in a while.
When angry, frustrated, annoyed, he will physically move his
furniture around the room, when the living are not there.
When upset, he will create a sour smell in his room.
When feeling sad about his wife's death:
He sometimes lets off a smell of a person who hasn't taken a
bath for a while. He communicated in some way to a psychic
astrologer Rita Freedman, that old men without wives often do
smell, because their better-half is no longer there to remind
He doesn't pay attention to the no smoking policy, and the smell
of cigar smoke is noticed in his suite, in parts of the hotel and
His apparition has been noticed in rooms 210-215, where he
stayed on the 2nd floor.
His strong, unseen presence has been felt by some people on the
2nd floor, being a kind host.
He is willing to talk to mediums and let his voice be recorded
on EVPs. He is still the gracious host of the hotel, and will also
communicate when worried about things that concern him.
The Entity of Young Billy Karsten
Described as being friendly, gregarious and gentle; not shy at
all with the living.
The entity of young Billy still does what he liked to do while
alive, and is still a very energetic five year old: outgoing and
Runs up and down the wide hallways.
Plays in the basement.
Plays with living children on the 2nd floor.
Will reach out and be social with people in this world, even
talking with psychics and investigators; His voice has been
recorded on EVPs.
Loves to run down the 2nd floor hallway to visit with his
grandpa in William Karsten's suites. They are together a lot now,
still having fun together.
The Entity of Agatha:
It is not surprising that Agatha is the most active entity.
Agatha shows a variety of emotions and behaviors, ranging from
being helpful to being mischievous with guests and staff. She has
been described as being very opinionated, and not afraid.
She has been known to show dissatisfaction with decisions made
by past owners and staff; even been a little nasty on one occasion.
In a fit of temper, on one occasion only toward a staff member, but
In 1988, She became angry with the hotel manager, Barbara
Pelnar. Agatha lost her temper and shoved Barbara hard from behind,
while Barbara stood on the second floor landing. Barbara
inadvertently lost her balance and fell down the stairs. Agatha
hasn't done anything like this, since.
She likes to be noticed by the living, and lets them know she is
there; especially in her old room, on the third floor, the lobby
area, and the kitchen.
Her unseen presence manifests itself with a wafting aroma of
roses, or flowers, and in creating very cold spots as well.
While cleaning a mirror, a staff member saw a woman in a 1930s
maid uniform standing behind him, with her hair up in the customary
bun of the time.
A staff member, alone at the time in the hotel, was taking down
the 3 boxes of Christmas decorations that were stored on the top
shelf of a 3rd floor storage closet, and then dragging them
downstairs. When she made her final trek up the stairs to the
storage closet, she saw to her amazement that her last box had been
moved off the top shelf, and was put right beside the open door, on
the inside of the room. While the entity of William Karsten, or the
unknown male entity may have been her unseen helper, Agatha was
given the credit, as this would've been in her job description
while she was alive.
Agatha is thought to be the entity who sets the alarm clock in
the kitchen periodically to go off at 12 midnight. Staff and some
investigation groups have experienced this.
Agatha also likes to play with the stove burners, and turns them
on and off. The ovens and stoves of 1925-1937 were quite different
from today's commercial stoves and ovens.
When the dining room is open for food service, Agatha gets her
chuckles by knocking over salt shakers and sugar bowls.
The Lobby Area:
Guests and staff have seen the apparitions of Agatha materialize
in the lobby.
2nd and 3rd floor activity:
Her apparition has been seen and heard sweeping the 2nd and 3rd
floor hallways, and causing other mischief for certain people.
She did so endlessly with a fervor, especially when workmen are
on her floor, as she still bears a grudge;
(Still has a strong dislike for men in general, especially in
the working class, as she associates them with drinking problems,
and with the drunk farmer who raped her, and changed her life
During the renovations done in 1984, this activity was first
reported by workmen, who were repairing the 2nd and third floor
areas. The floors at this time had no carpet, and they were
probably making a mess.
The workmen also felt really uncomfortable cold spots in their
She also hid their tools, turned them off and on, played with
the lights and generally was a pest, but didn't harm them.
In 1991, when Toni Charles was re-decorating a 3rd floor room,
she heard someone walking in the hallway, right outside the room.
She opened the door, and saw footprints of an unseen presence in
the carpet proceeding down the hall. Agatha was thought to be this
Agatha opens and closes doors, and apparently chest tops as
I had a personal experience when we stayed in room 311, right
across the hall from 310: March 2nd, 2013.
I opened up a chest by the bathroom, with a sliding-hinge type
lid that raises up, in order to bring out the extra comforter for
our bed. As much as I tried, I couldn't get the lid to slide down
as I couldn't push the hinge button in enough to release it due to
arthritis in my fingers. Giving up, I thought I would wait for
Tom to come up, and have his help in doing so.
But, I wasn't as alone as I thought! I walked toward the bed,
and then as I turned around, I saw it slam down suddenly by itself.
I said, "Thank you!" I think that it could've be Agatha, trying to
help, and get some chuckles at the same time, in a mischievous
In Room 310: Her room while alive, and in the afterlife
Guests and staff have heard strange knocks, faint crying and
One guest was awakened in 310, when a book was dropped right
next to the bed.
Guests and staff have heard a woman's voice, and various
investigators have recorded her voice in her room as well.
She has been known to appear so people in this world can see
her: in her room.
One guest was sitting on the bed in Room 310. She felt very cold
suddenly, and then saw a misty form of a woman cross the room,
disappearing into the wall.
One guest reported having seen a face of a woman in a corner
of room 310, looking down at her.
Apports, such as old-fashioned gray hair pins are found by
guests and staff.
There may be another male entity, a
former hotel employee who "works" in the basement, and perhaps
other places of the hotel as well, continuing with his duties, not
letting death get in his way.
His shadow in the basement and perhaps elsewhere has been
noticed and sometimes caught on film by paranormal investigators,
and a psychic or two as well (Wisconsin Ghost Investigations Team *
The Male Entity of a former Bar
Patron - Likes to visit on occasion. Though it could be
William Karsten, Sr. in disguise!
He was seen by bar patron Bonnie Jeski, as she was sitting with
her husband, enjoying a drink in the hotel bar. She spied the
white form of a man, wearing a workman's or fisherman's hat, who
was sitting on a bar stool at the bar, drinking beer out of a
stein. Her husband saw her looking at someone and asked her what
she saw. When she turned around again to show him, the
beer-drinking entity had vanished.
Since 1966, many people, including owners, staff, visitors,
guests and investigators have reported their personal experiences
with these spirits, many of which have been recorded in written
material, on-line magazines, the Historic Kewaunee Inn's ghost
experience journals, and their huge, historical and informational
archives, kept in a large notebook binder.
Two successful Psychic Investigations have confirmed and
gathered more information not known before on the spirits that stay
One in 1988 with psychic astrologer Rita Ann Freedman.
One in March of 2013 with HauntedHouses.com Team member psychic
medium Lori Manns.
In 1988, Rita Ann Freedman read and analyzed the personalities
of William Karsten and Agatha:
Rita Ann encountered Agatha on the third floor, sweeping the
hallway, not in a good mood. She sensed that Agatha was still
really attached to The Hotel Karsten. Rita described her as "an
omnipresent, possessive entity who could be nasty".
Furthermore, Agatha was extremely opinionated, and will let the
living know if she is displeased.
According to Rita Ann, William Karsten was anchored in his
hotel, because of his personality, thoughts and love for his
(Taken from original Scottie Dayton article, a copy of which was
posted in The Historic Kewaunee Inn's archives.)
In 2013, during the March 3rd, 2013, paranormal
HauntedHouses.com Team investigation:
Lori Manns, who is a very much liked and approachable psychic
medium, also had success; in talking with the spirits at this
location. For example, the entity of William Karsten came forward
and talked with Lori Manns, telling her of his worries, among other
Several paranormal investigation groups have caught hard
evidence backing up the existence of these spirits.
The Wisconsin Ghost Investigations Team declared and certified
that The Historic Karsten Inn was indeed haunted, in 2002. They experienced activity and caught
some evidence on tape as well.
Unexplained Research Investigation team, led by
authors/investigators Chad Lewis and Terry Fisk, also caught some
hard evidence in their investigation of The Historic Karsten Inn.
Activity was experienced and caught on equipment, and a real cold
spot was recorded and documented in Room 310. Also, the alarm clock
in the kitchen did indeed go off by itself.
Individual investigators have caught intelligent EVPs of little
Billy on the second floor.
The most evidence, however, was caught by our own
Joe Couto, Kale Kelly & Dave Olsen caught many EVPs, some
ghost box stuff, some digital recordings, and an interesting
picture of perhaps the entity of Agatha, in perhaps the same mirror
that the workman cleaning the windows saw her apparition. When the
evidence is fully analyzed, Team member, Lori Manns' psychic
investigation results will hopefully be backed up by EVPs and other
hard evidence caught by the other team members.
All of the results of this March 2nd, and 3rd, 2013 paranormal
investigation will be revealed in a digital film/dvd, sometime in
A big YES INDEED!
The entity residents and a visitor or two still love their
hotel, and are a friendly, sometime a teasing/helpful bunch of
entities, who keep the living company. In some instances,
supervising, sharing their feelings in a variety of ways, and
getting their chuckles as well. They reside in a place they loved
on different levels while alive, having strong attachments to the
Historic Kewaunee Inn.
The Kewaunee Inn Archives Book
(Historical material/info articles/promotional materials from late
1800s to present day)
The Kewaunee Inn Ghost Journal
Used by permission of current staff.
"The Karsten Inn Has a Ghostly Past and Present"
by Scottie Dayton
Nov./Dec/ issue of NewMonth Magazine
copy posted in The Historic Kewaunee Inn's archives
Original HauntedHouses.com Karsten Inn Story
by Julie Carr
Historic Karsten Inn web site
The Historic Karsten Inn page on Unexplained
Research.com * "Haunted Places in Wisconsin" page on
"The Historic Haunted Karsten Hotel" by Rita Ann on
Myspace *"Review of Historic Karsten Inn in Kewaunee,
Wisconsin" by Loralee Ranley on Yahoo!Voices