Have you ever wanted to stay at a historic hotel, and wondered what it would be like? We recently stayed at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. A 125-year old city icon. Standing in the lobby you have to remind yourself you are in Milwaukee and not Paris. Our stay quickly became the highlight of our visit to Milwaukee.
The Pfister Hotel definitely set the bar high for our romantic weekend. Just stepping through the door it was as if the hotel had extended its arms and welcomed us. You could feel the years of prestige, history, excellence and romantic moments that have happened over the years. We were excited about adding our own romantic Pfister story.
The grand entrance and the magnificent high ceiling in the lobby, although elegant and charming, were also warm and inviting. The ceiling was once a glass atrium but is now a work of art. One can not help but be captivated by its beauty.
History of Pfister Hotel Milwaukee
To fully appreciate The Pfister first take a look at the amazing history behind The Pfister Hotel. In 1871 Guido Pfister purchased the land in Milwaukee that the Pfister now sits on for $200. It was his dream to build a Grand Hotel in a European Tradition in downtown Milwaukee. Unfortunately, Guido passed away just after the construction of The Pfister was started. His son Charles F. Pfister, rather than abandoning the expensive project, threw himself into fulfilling his father’s dream, even using part of the estate to finance the construction.
The Pfister Hotel Was one of the most lavish hotels of its time, costing more than $1 million dollars to build in 1893. It was the first all-electric hotel with individual thermostats in each room. It is an elegant milestone in Milwaukee’s History.
In 1894, the republican delicate convention was held at The Pfister, establishing it as the venue for political events. In 1899 The Pfisters Ballroom hosted a dinner for President William McKinley and his entire cabinet. It was said that for one night The Pfister Hotel became the capitol.
Over the years The Pfister has become known as The Hotel of Presidents. It has welcomed nearly every U.S. President since 1899, not to mention royals, sports stars, and big-name entertainers. Such names include Aretha Franklin, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Presley, and Johnny Cash. When staying at the hotel, keep your eyes open, you never know who you might run into in the lobby.
Throughout the years the Pfister Hotel has gone through many changes. Following a stroke in 1927, Charles Pfister sold the hotel, his family’s dream to Ray Smith, a former bellboy and longtime employee at the hotel. Over time, the hotel continued to stand tall with the grandeur it was known for since day one. However, it was showing its age and was much in need of some love.
After years of decline in 1962, the hotel was purchased by a Milwaukee businessman, Ben Marcus. He saved the hotel from bankruptcy and demolition. Ben Marcus was ready to give The Pfister Hotel the love it needed to bring the old hotel to its original elegance. He undertook a massive renovation, investing an additional 7 million dollars, giving The Pfister Hotel the love it needed to continue standing tall.
During the renovations, a 23-story guest room tower was added with more modern amenities to the hotel. The top floor has a spectacular view of the city and Lake Michigan. It houses a pool and what was known as The Crown room. The Crown Room has hosted many well-known entertainers over the years.
Today this 23rd floor is home to the hotels’ pool with a wall of windows overlooking Lake Michigan, the Club Lounge and Blu, a nightly martini bar. During the day Blu is where the tea is served. Blu is a gem in the sky and it is where Gary and I enjoyed our afternoon tea. This is just a small example of the romantic style and elegance that the Pfister is known for.
Read more about the history of The Pfister Hotel
The Pfister Art Collection
One of the many things that make The Pfister stand above all is the magnificent art that graces its walls.
After purchasing The Pfister Hotel in 1962, Ben Marcus discovered that the hotel was home to the original and largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world.
The Pfister art collection was acquired by Guido and Charles Pfister and was valued at more than the hotel. This collection includes victorian paintings and elegant sculptures. All of the artwork is original to when the hotel first opened its doors. This art collection is still on display throughout the hotel. A collection of art that has never been displayed anywhere except The Pfister Hotel.
A pair of Lion statues, Dick and Harry were gifted to Charles Pfister just after the opening of this magnificent hotel. These statues once graced the entrance of the hotel and still today welcome visitors in the hotel lobby.
Woven throughout the hotel you see a love for the arts that goes all the way back to the original dream of Guidos’ to bring a Grand Hotel with European Tradition to the people of Milwaukee.
The Pfister – Artist in Residence
Following the passion for art, in 2009 The Pfister Hotel expanded its love for the arts by creating a very special program – Artist-in-Residence, one of the first of its kind in the country.
The Pfister Hotel’s Artist-in-Residence program features a working artist, art studio and gallery on the lobby level of The Pfister Hotel. The artists’ studio is open to hotel guests and the public. Visitors are encouraged to interact with the artist while watching each piece being created and come to life.
Each year artists from across the county apply for this 1-year residency. The artist for the year is chosen by creative process, personality, and public vote. This program has become an extension of the hotel. A local artist works closely with the hotel to give guests and visitors a very unique Pfister experience.
When planning ahead you can schedule an appointment with the Artist-in-Residence for a personal tour of The Pfister Art Collection.
This residence program is a one-of-a-kind experience in Milwaukee’s art community with one of Milwaukee’s, and the country’s, most revered hotels. Additionally, each Artist-in-Residence creates a legacy piece that will go on permanent display in the hotel
The Pfister Artist-in-Residence receives a $2,000 monthly stipend, complimentary meals at Café at The Pfister, and a $500 monthly house spend account to use for entertaining new and potential buyers.
The Pfister Hotel will celebrate the 12 years of the Artist in Residence program in 2020 which will run from April 1, 2020 – March 31, 2021. Meet this year’s Artist-in-Residence at The Pfister.
If you are a budding artist and are interested in applying for this unique opportunity, then you can fill out the Artist-in-Residence Application using this link. After meeting with this year’s current artist, it made me want to find my creative side.
Our Personal Pfister Romance
The Pfister Hotel is a part of Historic Hotels of America and Prefered Hotels and Resorts, honors they truly deserve. An award-winning AAA Four-Diamond hotel, The Pfister Hotel is not just an old hotel that no longer feels historic, The Pfister has been beautifully preserved and loved yet at the same time modernized to appeal to a younger crowd. Did anyone say Starbucks?
No detail was unattended by The Pfister giving us the opportunity to just focus on each other and our romantic journey. Starting with a romantic Pfister Tea experience overlooking the city of Milwaukee and Lake Michigan. Be sure to check out other places to visit in Milwaukee.
Accommodations at The Pfister Hotel Milwaukee
Our room was everything we expected and more. It was spotless, with every detail taken care of. The bed was so comfortable, perfect for relaxing after a night on the town or a busy day travel blogging. Our room was on one of the upper floors in the tower, which included exclusive access to the Pfister Club Lounge. We enjoyed special amenities in our room such as Keurig Coffee Makers, Turndown, and Shoe Shine service.
After a long day and fun evening, Gary and I would first stop at the Lobby Lounge, enjoy a nightcap and a little conversation. The lounge has music nightly and a very relaxed atmosphere. If you are looking for a place to just unwind, meet some new friends or cozy up with an old friend in front of the fire, the Lobby Lounge Bar has everything you need, right down to the most friendly bartender.
If you are looking for a little more than a nightcap, head up to the 23rd floor and visit the Club Lounge. The Club Lounge offers an area with computers and printers for those needing to get a little work done, breakfast in the morning and hors-d’oeuvres in the evening all in a very relaxing atmosphere.
Coming back to our room it was amazing to find robes laid out for us, our bed turned down and chocolates on our pillow. Those special touches showed us that The Pfister is above the rest in service. Our entire stay we felt special, giving us time to just focus on those romantic moments.
We fell in love with The Pfister and the entire staff! Our stay at The Pfister was a distinctly unique experience. From the time we stepped foot in the door the Pfister welcomed us with elegance. An elegance that carried through our entire stay. You don’t have to stay at the Pfister to enjoy its grandeur, elegance, and beauty.
We had a really great time in Milwaukee and staying at The Pfister. If you are in Milwaukee, a stop at The Pfister needs to be on your list. Even if it’s just to wander the halls and enjoy the art collection, have a drink at the Lobby Lounge or chat with the concierge and hear first hand the amazing history and stories about The Pfister. (We heard rumors of it being haunted)
The Pfister Hotel is located at 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. For more information or to make reservations, visit the hotel’s website or call (414) 273-8222.
Gary and Michelle
Some parts of this blog post have been sponsored. This means we may have received compensation for publishing the post. All thoughts, experiences, and opinions remain our own.
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