Yesterday’s Milwaukee

Mitchell Mansion’s Classic Fountain, 1880

Photos of Alexander Mitchell's mansion and its classic fountain, 1880, and as the place looks today.

By - Nov 4th, 2014 11:41 am
Alexander Mitchell Mansion, 1880. Photo courtesy of Jeff Beutner.

Mitchell Mansion’s Class Fountain, 1880. Photo by H.H. Bennett.

It is a shame that the property of the Wisconsin Club has so much space devoted to surface parking. When Alexander Mitchell lived here in the 1870s and 1880s the grounds were devoted to greenhouses and gardens. This photograph is a stereoview, circa 1880, by  H. H. Bennett, the famed Wisconsin photographer best known for his 19th century images of the Wisconsin Dells area.

In this Bennett image, the emphasis in less on Mitchell’s mansion and more on its fountain and grounds and the mansion’s elegant tower. The fountain is naturalistic and constructed with rustic rocks, in contrast to the otherwise formal landscaping. When looked at as a stereview, it provides a 3-D effect with Bennett making excellent use of the fountain’s jets of water.

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

The Site Today

2 thoughts on “Yesterday’s Milwaukee: Mitchell Mansion’s Classic Fountain, 1880”

  1. Gary Rebholz says:

    Jeff — the location of the historic fountain in Milwaukee’s Cathedral Square was exposed again in the annual removal of the summer concert stage. We all know the original 19th c. fountain was classic Victoriana, and the 1970s version was a monstrosity (that piece of sculpture now found in active use near the Wisconsin Center offices entryway on Wells St.).
    It would be great to see and hear a working fountain in Cathedral Square splashing in the spring and fall months but without public sculpture – let’s just have some water please. The relatively high profile base for the 1970s fountain has never been removed, it would seem to be a no-brainer to replace it with a simple ring of jets in a pool.

  2. Dave Reid says:

    @Gary I so agree. The fountain in Cathedral Square needs to return!

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