The European Hotel in 1953 in Adelaide Street, Maryborough.
The European Hotel in 1953 in Adelaide Street, Maryborough. Courtesy of Maryborough Wide Bay Burnett Historical Society

Is Emma Stewart back to haunt us?

HISTORICAL records have revealed the most likely candidate for the “ghost” that left footprints on a freshly mopped timber floor in Maryborough this week was Emma Stewart, a female licensee who died suddenly in 1932.

Xtreme Rejuvenation Clinic occupies part of a building that was once the European Hotel, which closed in the early 1950s.

The building was converted into shops, and Cores Lucky Black Cat Casket Agency relocated from further up Adelaide Street to its present position soon after.

Current owner Claudia Davidson said Core family members had visited recently and spoke of a family legend that said a female relative had disappeared, and was believed to be buried under the slab, next door to the clinic.

That rumour, however, was quashed yesterday by records at the Maryborough Wide Bay Burnett Historical Society – the woman was buried in the Maryborough Cemetery in 1934.

The European Hotel's history revealed Emma Elizabeth Stewart, who for the previous three years had been the licensee of the European Hotel, died suddenly on September 19, 1932, aged 43 years.

The Maryborough Chronicle reported that she was taken to hospital suffering the effects of poisoning and died shortly after admission. There was no suggestion the poisoning was suspicious, and could have been accidental.

The deaths of two other female licensees could not be linked directly to the hotel.

In 1886, the 16-month-old son of proprietor J.A. Murray died from injuries resulting from a fire in one of the hotel's bedrooms a few days earlier. However, his footprints would have been too small to match those discovered on the floor of Xtreme Rejuvenation Clinic this week.

Owner Diane Nitschinsk told the Chronicle Cassandra MacKellar had just mopped the floor and moved to another room, but returned on hearing “a funny noise” behind her when she found footprints with clay residue leading from the door of a cellar below. No one else was there.

Ms Nitschinsk said a medium once told her the shop had a female presence who staff named Arabelle, and was said to be responsible for the mysterious disappearance, and later return, of mirrors, facial bowls and tweezers.

Historical records showed the first European Hotel building, built in 1875, was single storey timber with a brewery behind. After the hotel was partly damaged by fire, a surviving section was moved back and turned into a kitchen for the new hotel, which opened in July 1884.

The new hotel was described as “a two-storey brick building with a handsome coffee room and beautiful wood carvings decorating the bar.”


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