Two “Old Treasures” in Lake Geneva
Don and I discovered The Maxwell Mansion, in beautiful Lake Geneva, Wisconsin two years ago. Before our annual trip to the mid-west to see my family, we decided we’d like to spend a few nights up in Lake Geneva, for some well deserved “alone time.” A little research on the internet, and we decided between one of two beautiful places in Lake Geneva. It would either be The Baker House, or it’s sister property, The Maxwell Mansion. A few phone calls were made and we found out that there was literally “no room at the inn” for The Baker House, so we made reservations at Maxwell Mansion.
The Maxwell Mansion is right up my alley! Built in 1856 as the summer home for a prominent Chicago surgeon, it was the first mansion built in Lake Geneva- long before the enormous lake front mansions you see there today. The property is two blocks from the water, but at that time, he owned the property all the way down to the beach! Now a small boutique hotel, it is made up of three buildings, the original mansion, the stables and the carriage house. Being the “lover of all things old” there was no question in my mind that we would stay in the main house.
The rooms inside the main house are more “period” style, while the stable rooms are a bit more modern and elegant. All the rooms I have seen are nicely done and very well appointed!
Ulysses Grant Slept Here….
For our stay we booked The General Grant Suite, and were happy we did! The suite is named after Ulysses Grant, who was said to have visited there in the 1800’s. The suite is generously large, with both north and south facing windows overlooking the beautiful gardens, a lovely sitting area in front of the fireplace and a HUGE bathroom with a period claw-foot tub. I couldn’t have been happier with the hotel or the room!
The property is made up of many pretty areas: gardens, fountains, verandas, a pool and a Bocce’ ball court. Inside has a lot of little treasures too: a small “media room” with a cozy red velvet booth that can sit about 6-8 to watch a movie, their Apothecary Bar (which was named to honor Dr. Maxwell’s profession), their beautiful “ballroom,” perfect for a small wedding or intimate party, a living room, and other lovely public areas.
What we didn’t know when we decided to stay at Maxwell Mansion is that some say it is haunted. (Not that that would have changed my decision to stay. I’m always open to meeting new friends!) The first afternoon, after going out on one of the lake boat tours, and a lovely lunch, Don and I decided to take a little nap. We laid down, and dozed off. A short time later I kept hearing someone walking around upstairs. I was really frustrated, because it was so loud that I couldn’t sleep! Later on, when Don woke up I complained to him how loud the footsteps were. He hadn’t heard them, because he sleeps like a log. When we left later to go to dinner I looked back at the windows of our suite and realized that there are no floors above our room! Back to the hotel I asked the desk clerk if there was an attic, and if so would someone have been up there working that day. She assured me that there was no attic above our room…….
The next day, my niece Kelly was going to bring my daughter Alyse, who had just gotten in from San Diego up to Lake Geneva. My niece and I have a long standing tradition that every time I’m in town (and the weather allows) we go up to Lake Geneva and hike part of the perimeter of the lake. The mansions surrounding the lake are unbelievably beautiful, as is the view of the lake, and we never tire of it. The girls showed up for our walk and the first thing my daughter said is “Mom, did you know this hotel is supposed to be haunted? I read all about it!” I can’t say for certain if it was the ghost I was hearing walking around the day before, but it seems like perhaps it was!
This week, on our annual mid-west trip, and decided to take our usual trek up to Lake Geneva. One of the reasons is that we are looking to put on a special party in the future, and have talked about doing it up at The Maxwell Mansion. (Ah………. the mysteries surrounding the mansion just seem to build!) We decided to stop in and look at the hotel with the party in mind. It proved to be just as beautiful as I remembered it!
This Diamond Is Not Too Rough!
The four of us took our walk, then decided we wanted to get a little something to eat and drink. We visited a newer local restaurant, called Flatiron Tap and sat outside. We have found in the past, as with many “tourist areas” some of the restaurants leave a bit to be desired. Flatiron didn’t disappoint! The food was great, the service pleasant, and they didn’t seem to mind us taking up real estate for an extended period of time! We were lucky enough to have one of those perfect summer days! We were enjoying the afternoon, visiting, eating and playing cards when a local couple sat down next to us. We began to banter back and forth, and they suggested we go with them later to The Maxwell Mansion to see a mystic named Joe Diamond. I was surprised to find out that the mansion also had a Speakeasy, and it would be open that evening!
I totally suffer from FOMO-(Fear of Missing Out), so I was thrilled with the idea! At the appointed hour, armed with the password of the day for the Speakeasy, thanks to our friends, we went up to the mansion! WHAT FUN! We went in to the Apothecary Bar, got some of their fabulous drinks, whipped up by their mixologist, and we were settled just in time for Joe Diamond, to come up to the table we were sharing with our new friends, Melanie and Chris.
We were absolutely blown away by Joe’s talent! He regaled us with card tricks for a few minutes, then blew us away by doing a bit of mind-reading! I still can’t figure out how in the world he came up with the name of a friend I had in mind for one of his tricks! It was CRAZY! Joe entertained us for well over half an hour, then we went on down to the Speakeasy. What fun, having to come up with the password to be allowed in, then entering the secret little bar! There was a pretty good crowd in the bar, but we found a few empty couches in the back and made ourselves at home. In the center of that room is a pole that obviously is structural to the building. I’m not even going to mention the pole dance that one of the males in our group put on for us with that pole. It just might embarrass John to be pointed out in such a manner! (I should make him pay some blackmail money to keep me from publishing them!)
The evening ended with all of us going out back to the lovely veranda, enjoying the fireplace and conversation with some new friends. Part of our group had a rousing late night game of Bocce’ Ball, which I was told they won.
When we made our first visit to The Maxwell Mansion we weren’t disappointed. Our visit this time around didn’t disappoint either! I think next year we will have to try another few days there, or at The Baker House!