Art Deco has long been one of my favorite styles of architecture. Recently I went on a tour with Architecture Milwaukee to learn about several of Milwaukee’s Art Deco buildings.
Hilton Milwaukee City Center
First up was the Hilton Milwaukee City Center. Originally opened in 1928 in the Westown neighborhood of Milwaukee. Then it was the Schroeder Hotel. It is a beautiful building inside and out.
The Wisconsin Tower was completed in 1930 and is a prime example of Milwaukee Art Deco. It was originally known as the Mariner Tower, named after its developer, John W. Mariner. You can read more about its history here.
Milwaukee Art Deco: The Kresge Building
Remember the S.S. Kresge stores? I’m sure I’m aging myself but I know we had one on the main street where I grew up. This is where the department store was in Milwaukee. It was built in 1931 and remained a store until 1955.
Gas Light Building
The Gas Light building really stands out when you are walking through the streets of this downtown area. It did to me anyway. The construction was completed in 1930 and has interesting and beautiful design aspects. The light at the top, shaped like a natural gas flame, was installed in 1956. It indicates the weather by the color of the flame.
Hotel Metro & Lou Fritzels
These are two buildings that moved on a bit to the Art Moderne version of Milwaukee Art Deco. They have their own distinct personalities and are both interesting to see. Hotel Metro was also a John W. Mariner building built in 1937. Lou Fritzels was one of the finest women’s fashion shops in the 1930s.
Milwaukee Art Deco: 740 N. Water Street – Parking Garage
This was one of my favorites on the tour. You would never know by just looking at this building that it was a parking garage. Originally the First Wisconsin Parking Garage, it was the largest parking garage in Milwaukee when it was built in 1928-1929.
Warner Grand Theater
I left this one for last because our tour happened to be on the same day as Open Door Milwaukee. The Warner Grand Theater was on the list of buildings you could enter and wander around. The lobby…well, you’ll see. Art Deco to the hilt. It was built in 1930 by Warner Brothers as a single-screen theater. You can see a few more interior images and read about the history and the theater’s future as the home of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra here. I will definitely be sharing the new modern edition in another article.
Milwaukee Art Deco and so much more
This was a 2-hour tour. Wendy, from Architecture Milwaukee, is very knowledgeable about both the history and architecture of the area. I highly recommend following her on Facebook or Instagram and if you’re in the area, hopping on one of her tours.
I will be continuing to go through images from this day I spent in Milwaukee and am heading back in a couple of weeks for the Historic Third Ward Alleys & Arches Tour.
You can also read about other architecture in Wisconsin – there is a pretty famous architect who has quite a place there.