Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Plankinton House Hotel, 1867

Its owners would expand it over the decades to make sure it remained Milwaukee's finest hotel, but this is the original structure.

By - Aug 27th, 2014 12:26 pm
Plankinton House Hotel

Plankinton House Hotel (Photo circa 1867)

This is a view of the Plankinton House hotel shortly after it was constructed in 1867. The location was on what is now Wisconsin Ave. between Plankinton St. and 2nd St. In 1867 Wisconsin Ave. was called Spring St. which would be changed in 1876 to Grand Ave. and later still to Wisconsin Ave.  Note the lovely mansard roof with its opulent window treatments.

The building to the left was the Birchard Block, which had been rebuilt in 1860 by Harvey Birchard. Birchard first arrived in Milwaukee in 1838 and soon opened a general store with his partners Lewis and Harrison Ludington. Ludington served two terms as a Milwaukee alderman,  three terms as Milwaukee’s mayor and one term (1876-1878) as Wisconsin’s governor. Another Birchard, named John, was a noteworthy furniture dealer whose business was east of the Milwaukee River.

Meatpacking tycoon John Plankinton, who built and owned the Plankinton Hotel, would purchase the Birchard Block in 1880 in order to expand his hotel. It would continue to expand over the next few decades to insure its reputation as Milwaukee’s finest hotel. The results will be featured in next week’s photograph.

Jeff Beutner is a collector of photographs, postcards and stereoviews of old Milwaukee. This column features these images, with historical commentary by Beutner.

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