- Lake Geneva Hotel, Lake Geneva, WI (1911) (S.171)
(Note, due to the fact that the internet is constantly changing, and items that
are posted change, I have copied the images, but give all the credits available.)
"Gangster Getaways." Page 44-51.
At the Lake, Autumn 1998
By Andria Hayday
...Hobert Hermansen. A colorful and prominent local businessman, Hobert (or “Hob”) also owned the Geneva Hotel, a Frank Lloyd Wright landmark that was razed in the early 1970s. Hobart’s father, Christian, bought the Lake Como Hotel in 1921, and while the elder Hermansen may have originally held the deed to this residence as well, it was Hobert who is commonly linked with (Bugs) Moran. Supposedly, Bugs and Hobert were friends.
...According to Hermansen’s 1984 obituary in the local paper...
...A showcase for Danish craftsmanship, the building appeared at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893 and was later moved to its current site. (The main guesthouse at the Lake Como Hotel.) That heritage must have appealed to Christian Hermansen, Hobart’s father. A native-born Dane, Christina worked at the fair as a carpenter. He bought the property from the Notter family in 1921 and opened the Lake Como Hotel.
...The Hermansen family ran the resort until 1971, when it became the Red Chimney Inn.
"Getaway Gangsters: Fact and Fiction." Page 21-24.
Spirit of Geneva Lakes, February 2004
By Janet Deaver/Pack
...The Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Lake Geneva Hotel (now the site of the Geneva Towers) was owned during the 1920s and 30s by E.T. Nussbaum and A.H. Thierback. The original owners were later joined by B.K. Thierback. Rumors abound regarding escape tunnels running from the hotel’s basement to an undisclosed shop on Broad Street, of illegal gambling machines behind false walls, perhaps even an on- site distillery.
In 1933, five armed men barged into the hotel office and robbed the safe. They stole $1000 cash, two rings worth twice that much, and hotel co-owner Nussbaum as hostage. South of Genoa City, the getaway car stopped. His abductors shoved Nussbaum out, handed him $10, and headed toward Chicago.
Two years later, five machine-gun armed men forced frightened guests in the hotel lobby to lie on the floor while they made one of the Thierbacks open the safe. Their take was only $800. They left, no one knows their destination.
In 1941, Hobe Hermansen bought the hotel and ran it until 1966 when he sold it. There were always rumors of a roulette table, a ticker tape machines for horse betting, a craps table, and perhaps slot machines in a secret room in the basement. The owner allowed friends to run the casino-type games, and may had taken a shore of the profits. Those games persisted despite hefty fines assessed after police raids.
Interesting details appeared as the decrepit hotel was razed before the Geneva Towers were built. Architect Derald M. West worked on the site, and recorded some discrepancies. Measurements on blueprints differed from the actual basement. A sealed room discovered in 1970 revealed part of the mystery. A second room was found in 1972 with tunnels outward, verifying that rumor.
Unfortunately, most of the tunnels were filled in. West’s notes say that soon after the second secret room was found, a bulldozer cracked a floor which buckled beneath its weight. The machine sank into a section of basement full of... “thick, dark alcoholic-smelling goo with the consistency of putty.” (The quote is West’s.) The bulldozer driver had discovered a 40-year-old distillery complete with well-aged grain mash waiting for conversion into beverage.