Having grown up with a love of Halloween and haunted houses, it seems only natural (or unnatural, one might say) for Dawn Dabeck to now be running a spooky themed boutique bed and breakfast in Manitowoc.
The inn is lovingly dubbed the Dead & Breakfast. Dabeck — whose website is aptly named Dead by Dawn — believes it is the first of its kind in the nation.
“This is the only haunted themed bed and breakfast,” she says. “We make things happen.”
Exactly what happens after the lights go out … she won’t say. That’s all part of the fun. But she does guarantee guests won’t get a good night’s sleep. “That’s what we are famous for,” Dabeck says.
After checking in, guests can attend Unhappy Hour held in the hotel’s billiard room or visit a communal parlor straight out of haunted history. While a fourth room is in the works, guests can now choose to stay in a devilish pirate-themed room, another featuring the stuff of nightmares or a room filled floor to ceiling
with creepy clown memorabilia.
Dabeck’s uniquely macabre venue opened, off Manitowoc’s Eighth Street, four years ago, just above her store, the Mad Hatter, which sells spooky novelties and collectibles.
“I’ve been collecting this stuff my whole life,” says Dabeck, who runs the shop and B&B with her husband, Jim, and daughter Malachia, 20. They live onsite in an apartment just as laden with creepy accoutrements, such as a huge foam rubber pipe organ, a skeleton reclining in a casket and Bob, a demon baby who has his own highchair at their dining table. Dabeck calls the décor “creepy chic.”
Dabeck owned and operated haunted houses in Manitowoc County for 25 years, so the Dead & Breakfast is just an extension of her passions.
It’s an offbeat attraction for the lakeshore city to be sure, but it appears even the mayor of Manitowoc, Justin Nickels, approves — his testimonial on the Dead by Dawn website reads, “Good job. You scared your mayor. And we all know it’s pretty hard to scare a politician.”