Chelsea Susan Bednar
Meet Enriquetta, the Spirit of Marrero’s Guest Mansion
Why Key West is a Hub for Hauntings:
Before getting into the significance of Marrero’s, it’s important to comprehend a brief background of the island’s haunted nature. Early navigation charts gave the name Cayo de Huesos, otherwise interpreted as “Bone Island” due to finding skulls and other bones strewn about the shores of the island. Unaware of the island’s geographically shallow structure of calcified coral beds, early settlers would bury their departed only to find corpses resurfacing from the aftermath of an intense hurricane. In addition to the dead never truly being “put to rest," the bedrock below the ground is composed of limestone. Paranormal buffs may already know that limestone is known as a sort of ‘hotspot’ for paranormal activity, with the theory that limestone deposits hold energetic information from significant events in the past. This energy is said to release in a haunting or form of 'event reoccurrence’ if disturbed in any way. With everything taken into consideration, you can understand how Key West quickly became one of the most haunted places in the United States today. (You can read more in depth about this in our blog post on The City of Bones.) The local tour guide joke is that Key West is home to more dead than living!
The History Behind the Scandal
Enriquetta & Francisco Marrero
The history of Marrero’s Guest Mansion dates back to the very early years of development in the newly founded Key West. The legend of the Marrero Family went down in history as one of the most scandalous debacles in the public eye talked about on the island to this day, continuing to make history as Key West’s most haunted hotel.
Fransisco Marrero was a prominent local cigar maker in the time where Key West was the hub for the growing cigar industry. Being so close to Cuba, cigars and tobacco could be imported for big profit. With roots in Cuba, Fransisco had an advantage in the industry, being an influential link between Cuba and developing Key West.
In 1890, Fransisco built a private home for his beloved wife, Enriquetta. The mansion was meant to be their forever home, a place to raise their children and grow old together…. and for a while, it was. Over the first few years their blended family grew, with eight children filling the home with laughter and joy.
Unfortunately to Enriquetta and the children, all things weren’t perfect in paradise. You see, Fransisco had somewhat of a dark past, mostly unknown to history. On what seemed to be a standard trip to Cuba for business affairs, Fransisco tragically died under mysterious circumstances and was never heard from again.
The tragedy of this event left poor Enriquetta heartbroken and alone to raise all the children without her husband. To Enriquetta’s further dismay, the legal documents binding the marriage to Fransisco had never officiated, and his first wife in Cuba, Maria (whom she had never known about) appeared out of the blue. Maria had come with a vengeance, claiming all of Francisco’s legal assets, including the house in Key West and all the estate's belongings. While Enriquetta fought for what she believed was hers, she had no legal standing to lay claim to anything since Fransisco and Maria had never legally divorced.
Under a very public and embarrassingly display, Enriquetta and all her children were kicked to the curb outside their home, left penniless without anywhere to go. While on the curb, Enriquetta shouted to any onlookers a promise that would set her fate, even after death. She proclaimed that she "would always remain at the home she loved, even in spirit."
Some versions of the story end with variations of how the family perished in the streets, that’s not necessarily true. It’s not well documented what occurred to the entire family, there are descendants of the Marrero’s alive today. While the property was never the family home to the Marrero’s again, it’s said that Enriquetta kept her promise, reuniting once more to the mansion after death.
Ownership of the property has been passed down through the years, eventually becoming the guest house it’s known as today. Over time, both guests and staff members have experienced paranormal activities, including various ghostly pranks, the smell of lavender in the air, and visions of a ghostly woman walking the halls.
The general consensus of Enriquetta's spirit is that of a welcoming energy as guests enter the mansion. Reports from previous guests have expressed an overwhelming experience of being welcomed home as they step passed the threshold of the entryway. Enriquetta cares about her home deeply, and lives up to being the gracious host that she always was in her spirit life.
Most paranormal activity is said to come from Enriquetta’s bedroom, Suite 7 (formerly 18). There are accounts of objects being relocated in her room and the scent of lavender filling the air… having been Enriquetta’s signature scent.
In past designs of the hotel there was a hallway chandelier that was said to sway back and forth, making it known that Enriquetta did not like particular guests in her home (it's since been replaced, so you don't have to worry). Occasional sites of ‘shadow figures’ in the halls have been reported, but generally the activity is all very passive.
Any ‘prankster-like’ activity that has occurred is believed to come from Enriquetta's children. The door to what once was the Children’s Playroom is known for locking and unlocking on it’s own (even after having been replaced multiple times). Most of the children’s silly tricks have a playful energy about them, and they mostly occur to the staff during late hours, so you may not be privy to experiencing anything. Objects have been known to move or be relocated, and children’s giggles have been heard in the hallway and stairwell. Childish laughter or babies crying may not sound out of the norm in a hotel, but remember - the Guest Mansion is a 21+ facility where no children are permitted to stay. That being said, if you hear childish giggles in the middle of the night, you may be hearing our resident ghosties.
Publicity & Tours
Marrero’s has been written about in various online blogs including an article in the Southernmost Ghost Blog and in a feature on the Haunted Key West page. A few guests have even included their own Marrero's ghostly experiences in the reviews on Trip Advisor! Multiple Youtube creators have covered their stay & paranormal investigations, and you can search them here.
Our boutique Hotel isn’t the only haunted place with visiting! Book a ghost story bus tour with Ghosts and Gravestones, or a walking ghost tour with Ghost City - this historically accurate guide walks you through some of Key Wests most haunted locations. This company has two versions of the tour, one that’s family-friendly and one that’s for adults-only.
We hope this spooky tale adds a little spark of curiosity about the island's haunted history. And to our guests, heed our advise: keep a wary eye out in Key West because who knows, you may just have encountered a resident ghost!
Thanks for reading,
The Marrero's Team
Traveling elsewhere in Florida? Visit our sister property in Treasure Island FL.
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