Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Plankinton House Hotel, 1889

The Plankinton House hotel once sat on prime real estate.

By - Sep 9th, 2014 11:45 am
Plankinton House hotel, circa 1889. Image courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

Plankinton House hotel, circa 1889. Image courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

The Plankinton House hotel would continue to grow after an 1882 addition. Several factors were at work. One was the Newhall House fire, a devastating blaze that eliminated The Plankinton House’s largest competitor. Next would be location. Milwaukee, west of the river, would truly boom during this period, fueled by a steady stream of immigrants from Europe.

In 1886, the Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Paul Railroad would construct a new train depot, just a few short blocks away from the hotel. This replaced the aging Union Depot, south of the Menomonee River. This magnificent structure lasted until 1966, when it was demolished replaced by a parking lot that lasted for several years.

Also, the Milwaukee Railway and Light CO. would construct it’s main terminal and streetcar house even closer to the hotel in the early 1900s. In other words, the Plankinton House was sitting on some prime real estate. The hotel would expand to the west, covering the entire frontage of Grand Ave. (now Wisconsin Ave.) between Plankinton and 2nd St.

This is a view of the hotel from a photogravure produced by S.L. Stein circa 1889. Some views of the opulent interior will be published in this feature next week.

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

2 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Milwaukee: Plankinton House Hotel, 1889”

  1. Jim O'Leary says:

    I felt I needed to take a minute and let you know how much I look forward to Yesterday’s Milwaukee on I’m very passionate about our city’s rich photographic history. Yesterday’s Milwaukee satisfies on so many levels. I always learn something new and 9 times out of 10, I’ll drive by the location in the photo to see what’s there now. Often brokenhearted when I see what the magnificent structures have been replaced with.
    The only suggestion I would make is that more photos and stories are put up more often!
    Keep up the good work, it’s so appreciated.

  2. Mark P says:

    I have a similar photo of this Plankington House Hotel in an old dome-top trunk.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us