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The Haunted House of Dreams

May 5, 2012

She was going through her daily routine, making sure that all was as it should be in every room throughout the house she loved.  She was very attached to what some might think of only as a lovely home, but to her it was more than that it meant love and family and the brief happiness she had known there.  She paused a moment to look out the window, and she thought how very much things had changed…she wasn’t sure how long it had been since she first lived in the house, she only knew she was never going to leave it.  “Esta es mi casa para siempre y nunca me voy a ir.”  Enriquetta Marrero declared the house was rightfully hers and vowed she would remain in spirit; at least, that is how the story goes.  Enriquetta’s ghost is said to still haunt the rooms of her home now a popular bed and breakfast in Key West, FL known as Marrero’s.

My camera was fighting me when trying to take a picture near the entrance of Marrero’s.

We stopped by Marrero’s as part of the Key West ghost tour we took last August, a lovely Victorian mansion, located at 410 Fleming Street,  that was once filled with the family and love of Enriquetta Marrero.  The old Marrero mansion was completed in 1889 by a wealthy Cuban cigar maker Francisco Marrero, to persuade his sweetheart Enriquetta to move to the sparsely populated isle of Key West.  A beautiful home large enough for their family of eight children, sadly their happiness was to be short-lived.

Francisco met a sudden, and some say unnatural death while on a business trip to Cuba leaving Enriquetta a widow and their children fatherless.  The tragedy for poor Enriquetta was not to end there.  About six months after Francisco’s death a stranger came from Cuba to claim the Marrero estate, she was Francisco’s first wife whom he never divorced.  Imagine Enriquetta’s desolation at not only losing her husband but finding that the man she loved had lied to and betrayed her their entire marriage and now after everything she and her children would be lose everything.

A bitter court battle ensued, and the first wife was made administrator of Francisco Marrero’s estate.  Enriquetta Marrero and her eight children were to be left penniless and homeless.

On the day, June 16th, 1891 that Enriquetta and her eight children were driven out of their home, a crowd gathered to watch the sad spectacle, unfortunately people have always reveled in the misery of others.  Enriquetta told the onlookers that they were witnessing a grave injustice and that she would always remain at the mansion…at least in spirit.  Enriquetta Marrero and all of her children died, most from tuberculosis or diphtheria, within two years after being thrown out of their home.

Francisco’s first wife, Maria Ignacia Garcia de Marrero eventually sold off the house and all its contents and returned to Cuba.  The house changed owners and purpose many times over the years it was a casino, a bordello, a restaurant, and then a hotel.  People have reported sensing Enriquetta in all the house’s different business settings.

My camera finally behaved, and there you see the stairs where Enriquetta left her house with all eight children in tow, never to return…alive.

Many guests who have stayed at Marrero’s say they feel Enriquetta’s presence, and if she likes you she will let you know, and if she doesn’t she will make sure to let you know that too.  Her presence is particularly felt in what used to be Enriquetta’s bedroom, room 18.  Visitors to Marrero’s have felt her presence and it is usually gentle but she can be angry, depending upon what has urged her to make her force known.

If you are ever lucky enough to book a night or two at Marrero’s, it is usually filled up a year in advance, be kind to any spirit you may meet there for you tread upon her broken dreams.

30 Comments leave one →
  1. May 5, 2012 12:16 am

    I didn’t know they all died in such a short period of time. Where did you find out? Glad to learn more about the story. Boo! No wonder she is still there. Keen pictures!! I hadn’t seem them!

    • May 5, 2012 12:19 am

      I did a bit of research, because I knew they died in a short period, but I didn’t know it was so fast…all those poor lost souls.

      If I write more about our Key West ghost tour you will see more pictures I took. Eep! I just wish it had been cooler. 😛

      • May 5, 2012 12:21 am

        I know it was rough but it is the best place for ghostie tours EVER! Good researching. 🙂

      • May 5, 2012 12:23 am

        Yes, I really enjoyed the tour even in the heat. I did not enjoy our walk back by way of Mars-what the heck?!

      • May 5, 2012 12:36 am

        I know we should have gotten a taxi!!

      • May 5, 2012 12:38 am

        Oh yes…a few more blocks and you would have been visiting ME on your next ghost tour. 😛

      • May 5, 2012 12:51 am

        Nooooo 😦

  2. Wednesday Woe permalink
    May 13, 2012 4:03 am

    Ooh, Florida has some interesting haunted places! I would love to go on a ghost tour!

    That’s quite a story, though.
    “Oops, honey BTW I never actually got a divorce from the first wife.”
    Of course, the witch only showed up when there was money involved. I wonder what would have happened had they lived long enough for vengeance? There might have been more tragic deaths (murders) that added to its history.
    Look forward to more!

    • May 13, 2012 4:44 pm

      I know…what a mess. I can’t believe the courts threw Enriquetta and all 8 children out into the streets.

      Curious the first wife never cared about his whereabouts when he was alive.

      • Wednesday Woe permalink
        May 16, 2012 4:18 am

        That unfortunately is “justice” from the courts. But then again, I doubt the first wife wanted any mercy for them.

        More like typical. Nobody cares until there’s money involved. (Such a high opinion of the human race)

      • May 16, 2012 10:23 am

        Man’s love of money is the root of all evil. And mercy is very underrated. 😦

  3. Wednesday Woe permalink
    May 16, 2012 10:46 pm

    So true, so true.

  4. John B. permalink
    July 16, 2012 2:00 am

    Hi guys. Just wanted to let you know not all of the legend is accurate. You see I am the great grand son of Francisco Marrero. My mother’s mother was Rufina Marrero his oldest daughter. She married Antonio Bello and she had 8 children, my mother being the youngest. The story of the Marrero family is very interesting and I wished that someone would write a novel about it. If anyone wants to know more or has questions just ask away.

    • July 16, 2012 10:35 am

      Thank you so much for the information, it is comforting to know that the legend is really not as bleak as has been reported. I certainly would love to know more about the legend of the Marrero’s of Key West!

    • Debbie C permalink
      November 29, 2013 4:44 pm

      Hi John B,

      We are cousins. My great great grandmother was Delores Marrero Betancourt. She was Rufina’s younger sister also known as Lola. She remained in Key West where she married and had four children. My grandmother was Gudelia. Gudelia married and had ten children (seven lived to adulthood). My mother, Vivian, was number 10. I am one of two daughters. The story of Francisco is very interesting. Please share anything that you have learned.

      • November 30, 2013 11:37 am

        Hi Cuz! Your post shocked me because I never knew any family outside the Bello’s. My grandmother, Rufina Marrero, married Antonio Bello. My mother used to say that an aunt “Lola” used to come and visit when she was growing up in Tampa. And now I know who my mom’s aunt Lola was!
        I’d love to hear what your side of the family remembers of what happened and I wonder if you have any photos etc?
        There is a Facebook group called friends of Francisco Marrero. You should join in and post there. I still have family in South Fla.
        Oh and Debbie, Rufina moved to Tampa at sometime in the in 30’s I think. My mom Leonora was born in Key West in 1921 so Rufina and the family remained in Key West for decades after Francisco was murdered.
        Thanks for posting.

  5. July 25, 2012 6:11 pm

    That’s great, I love ghost tours. I did the one in Williamsburg and Niagara falls and got different shots of ghost there and the one in williamsburg I got the face showing on a cemetery stone

  6. January 24, 2013 11:48 pm

    I will be staying at Merrero’s Guest Mansion for four nights in March. However, not in Enriquetta’s room. If John B. is still available for questions, I’d heard Enriquetta’s attorney was murdered prior to representing her, as well as Francisco died under suspicious causes. Is there any additional information available on what became of the first wife after returning to Cuba? Thank you.

    • January 26, 2013 3:19 am

      The family always suspected that my great grand father was poisoned by a business rival who conspired with the alleged “first wife” from Cuba. We have no idea what she did with my great grand fathers wealth after it was essentially stolen from my great grand mother and her children. And a fellow Key West cigar mfg who was going to testify and help my great grand mother with the case was found murdered with his throat cut. His name was Gato.
      Also just to add more. My great grand father Francisco Marrero married Louisa Hersh in NYC. Louisa and he had 4 children and she died during childbirth with the 5th child. He wrote Enriquetta in Spain and offered to provide for her if she came to Key West and married him. My grand mother was his eldest child his daughter, Rufina who was my mothers mother. As far as I know Rufina was the only child to survive and have children. She married Antonio Bello and the Bellos are the descendents of Francisco and Louisa and Enriquetta, 4 children each.

      • January 26, 2013 3:36 am

        Thank you so much for addressing Coral’s question.

      • April 17, 2013 3:57 pm

        Great info John. I’m researching the Marrero family and surrounding events. Looks like Rufina was the only child of Louisa’s to have children, but Eva Christina (daughter of Francisco and Enriqueta) married Leoncio Alfonso and had at least 3 children. The 1940 census had her living in Jersey City, New Jersey, the same time that Rufina was living in Trenton. Would love any additional info you have on the family. Especially want to find out what happened to Enriqueta. My e-mail is if you get this and care to drop me a line.

      • April 17, 2013 4:09 pm

        Love your Ghosts of Key West book. John has been very kind in replying to requests.

      • Debbie C permalink
        November 29, 2013 4:53 pm

        Hi John,
        My great grandmother was Delores. She was one of the four children of Louisa and Francisco. Her nickname was Lola. She remained in Key West and married and had children. Her daughter, Gudelia was my grandmother. Gudelia had ten children. My mother Vivian was number ten. Did Rufina remain in Key West?

  7. April 18, 2013 12:37 pm

    Got a message from John today. Thanks John, and Thanks senoritawhiskers! Love your site and can’t thank you enough for the leads!

    • April 18, 2013 1:12 pm

      You’re welcome-so happy to be of help, John has been so kind to everyone who has asked for information. Thank you so much!

      • Debbie C permalink
        November 29, 2013 5:05 pm

        Hi senorita whiskers,
        I am the great great grand daughter of Francisco and Louisa. Their daughter Delores was Rufina’s younger sister. She married twice and lived in Key West until her death. Delores had four children. Her daughter Gudelia Betancourt was my grandmother. Her daughter Vivian Gartenmayer was my mother. There are many grand children still living in Key West.

      • November 29, 2013 6:34 pm

        Debbie, thank you so much for the information-I am sure this will be of interest to those who have followed this post! I am sure John will be in touch.

  8. November 30, 2013 11:40 am

    Debie my uncle Tony, who was my mom’s older brother named his daughter Delores. Now I know who she was named after!

  9. January 14, 2016 2:28 pm

    John if u are still getting emails from this.. please email me lost yours. Seems we are related… DNA keeps showing Bello/Marrero links… think u wrote me as bobbistorm@aol but who knows thanks

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