FOND DU LAC, Wis. (WFRV) – First opening its doors in 1923 at the helm of Walter Schroeder, Hotel Retlaw, is an eight-story neoclassical-inspired hotel that has, for the most part, stayed intact more than 90 years later.
Still, in order to keep up with today’s demand, the hotel underwent a “re-imagining” in 2019 turning this historical landmark into a luxurious modern amenity. Yet, all the “re-imagining” in the world couldn’t seem to erase the haunted tales trailing close behind this establishment.
As the stories go, the spirit of Walter Schroeder still haunts this hotel and is responsible for the many unexplained occurrences that both guests and staff have reported experiencing throughout the years. Some of the more harmless encounters that have been reported include staff members seeing cups flying from carts and ice flying from the ice machines.
Furthermore, staff members have reported hearing screams coming from one specific room in the hotel, Room #717, which is located on the seventh floor, followed by the door of that room shaking viciously as if it was being kicked in from the inside. Yet, after staff members enter the room, they always find nothing and no one inside.
And these eerie encounters with the paranormal aren’t limited to staff members. Guests who have stayed in Room #717, have reported experiencing suspicious hair pulling, the television randomly changing channels, and lights and faucets turning on and off by themselves.
As each year passes, the haunted tales have started to accumulate, inspiring two Wisconsin Public Radio producers to spend a night at the hotel and see if there was any truth to these stories.
According to the WPR producers, during their stay, they walked through the hotel with EVP’s and actually began ‘picking up a lot of interference’ in certain locations. Yet, that would be the extent of their ‘paranormal encounter’- that is, until later that night. One of the WPR producers shared that during the night she was awakened by a strong smell of stale cigarettes. She described the smell further saying that it seemed like it was being blown right in her face. When she finally opened her eyes, she was staring at an empty room with no cigarettes or smoke in sight.
If these accounts aren’t chilling enough to convince you that there are more than guests residing at Hotel Retlaw, Local 5 connected with a former employee who shared a truly horrifying account that may make you reconsider.
Wishing to remain anonymous, this former employee says they worked as a lobby bartender, who bartended at a variety of events held at the hotel, including the highly prestigious Hotel Retlaw galas. And it would be after one of these galas that this ex-employee would be the victim of a sinister encounter with the paranormal.
One night, after a successful gala, the former employee, began cleaning up the bar area and loading up the bar cart. The ex-employee estimates it was around 12:30 a.m. when they rolled the bar cart into the elevator and hit the button that should have taken them to the first floor. However, that didn’t happen.
After pushing the button for the first floor, the former employee said the elevator started going up, in the opposite direction. The ex-employee began to panic and recalls that elevator ride as being the fastest and slowest ride they have ever been on.
It was almost like time stood still.”Former Hotel Retlaw Employee
Finally, the elevator stopped and abruptly opened its doors, and at that moment, the former employee realized they were on the seventh floor. After exiting the elevator, the ex-employee says they tried to grab the bar cart, but before they could, the elevator doors shut, leaving them trapped on the seventh floor and the unattended bar cart alone in the elevator.
More panic began to set as the former employee was well aware of the chilling stories that plagued the hotel, and more specifically, the seventh floor. Oddly, just as quickly as the doors had shut, the former employee says the elevator doors suddenly opened, and the bar cart was gone.
The former employee got back on the elevator and began to worry that someone had taken the bar cart that they were responsible for watching. However, upon reaching the first floor, the former employee says when the elevator doors opened the missing bar cart was right there, intact, and waiting next to the elevator. The ex-employee began asking the hotel staff working at that time if they had moved the bar cart from the elevator, and all of them said ‘no’.
Spooked and confused, the ex-employee finished their nightly duties and headed home for the night. On their drive home, they realized there was a small tear in the right shoulder of their relatively new uniform. Yet, after everything they had just experienced, a small tear in their uniform was the last thing on their mind.
However, when they arrived home and began changing out of their work clothes, they found something too horrifying to ignore. Upon taking off their work uniform, the former employee reports having found scratches and bruises all over their body.
I get home and change and noticed 3 huge scratches from my right shoulder across my chest ending at my left hip. And a bruise on my left arm. It was so bizarre…”Former Hotel Retlaw Employee
Strangely, the former employee shares their reason for leaving the Hotel Retlaw was not associated in any way with this horrific experience. However, after hearing such a chilling account, it’s hard to believe this encounter wasn’t a factor in their departure.
Hotel Retlaw is located at 1 North Main Street in Fond du Lac and is still checking in guests and ghosts- well the latter is still up for debate.
This story is part of a Local 5 Halloween series which includes the following blood-curdling stories:
- Paranormal Encounters: Chilling stories from The Berlin Tannery
- Paranormal Encounters: Chilling stories from The Ashwaubenon Bowling Alley
- Paranormal Encounters: Chilling stories from A Fond du Lac local