Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Exterior of Alexander Mitchell’s Mansion, Mid-1870s

What would soon be known as Grand Avenue became a row of millionaires' mansions.

By - Oct 7th, 2014 03:41 pm
Alexander Mitchell’s Mansion, mid-1870s. Image courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

Alexander Mitchell’s Mansion, mid-1870s. Image courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

In the early 1870s wealthy businessman Alexander Mitchell would greatly expand his home. A third floor would be added along with an elegant tower that would make the home a true mansion. This would be an anchor of sorts for the many new mansions that would be constructed to the west on this street.

In 1876 the name of Spring St. would be changed to Grand Ave. John and William Plankinton were early residents. Later arrivals would include Frederick Pabst, Emil Schandein and Henry Harnischfeger. It was the prime residential street in the city.

The Mitchell house with its tower, photographed here by W.H. Sherman in the mid-1870s, is still standing, but changes have occurred to what is now the Wisconsin Club. The brick is now painted and much of the architectural detailing on the mansard roofs has been removed. Still, this is one of the finest structures of this period remaining in Milwaukee.

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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