Yesterday’s Milwaukee

The Lush Landscaping of Alexander Mitchell’s Conservatory, 1880s

The famed photographer H. H. Bennett captured the splendor of the Mitchell mansion.

By - Oct 22nd, 2014 10:58 am
Alexander Mitchell’s Conservatory, 1880s

Alexander Mitchell’s conservatory and gardens, 1880s

Beginning around 1880 and over a period of several years, the noted photographer H. H. Bennett, of Kilbourn City (now Wisconsin Dells), would create over 200 stereoviews of Milwaukee. A good number were of the newer fine homes in the city.

Three of the views were of the residence of wealthy banker and railroad man Alexander Mitchell at a time when the landscaping was maturing. In other words, the house was in its prime.

This is a view of the main entrance also showing the very fine woodwork on the exterior of the conservatory. Note the formal gardens using plant material grown in the estate’s large greenhouses. That’s what money invested in banks and railroads could build in the 1870s. Milwaukee would see many fine homes built on Grand Avenue (now Wisconsin Avenue) from the profits of booming businesses in the growing city.

The conservatory would last until 1895. After Mitchell’s death the property was sold to the Deutscher Club, which would demolish the conservatory and replace it with a large dining hall, now the Wisconsin club’s main dining room.

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

The Mitchell Property Today

One thought on “Yesterday’s Milwaukee: The Lush Landscaping of Alexander Mitchell’s Conservatory, 1880s”

  1. thomas fontaine says:

    We think we have a orig sign from the orig Boston store before it was rebuilt, is there a way to find out? this was in a very old 1800 barn and was used as a lining on a horse stall, we have the sign, we live in Caledonia, any help would be appreciated, the sign thank you so much tom Fontaine

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