Performances enhance Lake Geneva mansions

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Lisa Schmelz | August 19, 2014

LAKE GENEVA -- When Bethany Souza and Andrew Fritz bought a lakefront mansion in 2010 and turned it into five-star lodging, complete with private butler service, they wanted it to be more than luxury lodging on historic Geneva Lake.

"One of the phrases that Andrew and I like to use a lot is that we're servicing an experience economy," said Souza, who lives with Fritz and their three children on the top floors of Baker House, built in 1885 by Emily Baker. "People are not just looking for food or a place to stay. They're looking for an experience."

Initially, Souza and Fritz confined that experience to just one mansion.  But when the neighboring Maxwell Mansion two blocks east became available, the couple began tapping even further into what they deemed an artistic and cultural experience void.

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This summer, visitors have been able to extend that experience to both live cabaret as well as a murder mystery performance.

Dinner is held at the Baker house, with performances a short distance away at the Maxwell Mansion. The next cabaret show is Aug. 2, and the next murder mystery theater is Aug. 22.

Think "Downton Abbey" (the British TV drama series) meets Lake Geneva.

"These great mansions have created the perfect backdrop for these experiences, whether they be cabarets, murder mysteries, historical lectures, house tours or afternoon teas," Souza said. "If you're going to have an afternoon tea, you can have it in a restaurant. But isn't it so much better when you put it in an antique-filled ballroom of an 1850s mansion? It just takes on a whole other layer of depth."  

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