The early industrialists of Milwaukee left a few legacies to Wisconsin's largest city. Their names grace factories, streets, neighborhoods and public places, and some of their beautiful homes still stand as a testament to a bygone era. Visit any of the mansions on this list for a fun lesson in architecture and you'll often get a great dose of Milwaukee history along the way.
The Pabst Mansion is a must-see stop for those interested in Milwaukee's storied history as the one-time "beer capital of the world," as well as for fans of historical architecture. Completed in 1892, the mansion is considered today to be a fine example of Flemish Renaissance Revival architecture. Saved from the wrecking ball in the seventies, today the Pabst Mansion is open to the public as a museum, and a popular place for weddings, wedding receptions, and other private parties.
Where: 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee
Built in 1891, the Schuster Mansion is an eclectic castle-like home built primarily in the German Renaissance Revival style. It is also notable for the bright red of its color palette. Commissioned by George J. Schuster, the mansion was designed by the firm of Crane and Barkhausen and has attained historical significance as one of the earliest and most flamboyant of the German Renaissance Revival style houses—quite popular in 1890s Milwaukee—designed by that firm. Today the mansion is a popular bed and breakfast, though the general public can also visit during their once-monthly "high tea" events without having to book a room.
Where: 3209 W. Wells St., Milwaukee
A slice of Italy perched on a bluff above Lake Michigan, Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum was originally the home of Lloyd Smith, one-time leader of the A.O. Smith Corporation, and his family. Designed and built in 1923 by architect David Adler, the home is truly an Italian Renaissance-style villa, complete with acres of formal gardens overlooking the (sometimes) blue waters of Lake Michigan. Today, Villa Terrace is open to the public as a decorative arts museum and is a popular spot for hosting beautiful special events.
Where: 2220 N. Terrace Ave., Milwaukee
The oldest residence on this list, Villa Filomena, was built in 1874 as the home of Milwaukee shipping magnate Captain Robert Patrick Fitzgerald. A Victorian mansion of the Italianate style, this beautiful building was cycled through many owners and incarnations before being renamed Villa Filomena and opened as a venue available for special event rental. Technically, Villa Filomena is not open to public tour, but chances are Milwaukee residents could still find themselves within the villa's walls on special occasions.
Where: 1119 N. Marshall St., Milwaukee
Charles Allis Art Museum
Built in 1911, the Charles Allis Art Museum is a beautiful Tudor-style mansion located on Milwaukee's Prospect Avenue. The home is now a showcase for the Allis' extensive collection of paintings, prints, sculpture, ceramics, and more, as well as a popular place for hosting special events. Designed by famed architect Alexander Eschweiler and built by Charles Allis of the Allis-Chalmers Corporation, the mansion was always intended by the Allis family to become a gift—along with the extensive art collection within—to the people of Milwaukee.
Where: 1801 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee