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Historic Architecture

History buffs will love exploring the diverse array of historic places and unique architecture in Milwaukee. The city's commitment to preservation and revitalization means many historic buildings from mansions to churches are still in use today. Here are 12 must-see historic spots in Milwaukee. Insider Tip: Go behind the scenes at more than 150 buildings during Doors Open Milwaukee.

  • Image: Pfister Hotel

    1. The Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893 in the style of the grand hotels of Europe, this historic hotel is truly a Milwaukee icon. Featuring Romanesque Revival design, the hotel is also home to the world’s largest hotel collection of Victorian art and continues to support the arts through its Artist- in-Residence program. Read More

  • Image: Basilica of St. Josaphat

    2. Basilica of St. Josaphat

    The crown jewel of churches in Milwaukee, this became the third church in the United States honored with the title of “basilica” in 1929 and is still the largest church in the city. Self-guided tours are available all week, or stop by after Mass on Sunday for a formal tour. Read More

  • Image: Pabst Mansion

    3. Pabst Mansion

    Once home of beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst and his family, this mansion is the epitome of Gilded Age splendor. The house has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and features fine period furniture and architectural details. It’s an especially enchanting sight fully decked out for a Victorian Christmas. Read More

  • Image: Milwaukee City Hall

    4. Milwaukee City Hall

    Upon completion in 1895, City Hall was the tallest habitable building in the U.S. Built in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style, inspired by German city halls, the building features a stunning eight-story atrium in the center. Read More

  • Image: St. Joan of Arc Chapel

    5. St. Joan of Arc Chapel

    Believed to be the only medieval structure in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to its original purpose, this chapel stood for more than 500 years as part of a French estate and was moved to the U.S. stone- by-stone in the 1920s and to the Marquette University campus in the 1960s. Legend has it that Joan of Arc prayed before the early Gothic altar and kissed the stone where she stood, and that stone has forever remained colder than those that surround it. Read More

  • Image: Soldiers Home

    6. Soldiers Home

    Built to house recuperating soldiers after the Civil War, this is one of only three Soldiers Homes, and the original domiciliary, Old Main, is the only surviving Soldiers Home building in the country. Take a free self-guided walking tour of the grounds and recuperative village. Read More

  • Image: Villa Terrace Decorate Arts Museum

    7. Villa Terrace Decorate Arts Museum

    Built in the style of an Italian villa, this museum and its stunning Renaissance Garden overlook Lake Michigan. Inside you’ll find a collection of fine decorative arts, including wrought-iron masterpieces by Cyril Colnik. While you’re in the area, stop by the Charles Allis Art Museum, located inside a beautiful Tudor home. Read More

  • Image: Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

    8. Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

    Six of 13 known American System-Built Homes by Wisconsin native Frank Lloyd Wright line West Burnham Street. Guided interior tours of the Model B1 are available two Saturdays each month, and architecture buffs should know that one of the other homes is available as a vacation rental. Read More

  • Image: Tripoli Shrine

    9. Tripoli Shrine

    An architectural replica of India’s Taj Mahal, this landmark was built in 1928 and remains the home of Milwaukee’s Shriners International. Enjoy its ornate interior, including stunning mosaics, original art and furniture, on a guided tour. Read More

  • Image: Ten Chimneys

    10. Ten Chimneys

    The home of late Broadway legends Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, this 60-acre estate is less than an hour outside the city and remains virtually unchanged since they first applied their theatrical style and assembled the beautiful historic furnishings and diverse collections on view today. Read More

  • Image: Milwaukee Public Library

    11. Milwaukee Public Library

    First opened in 1898, this imposing structure is a combination of French and Italian Renaissance styles, built of Bedford limestone and featuring a hand-carved limestone staircase. The library also has 33,000 square feet of green roof. Free tours are available every Saturday morning, and green roof tours are available twice a week April through October. Read More

  • Image: Allen-Bradley Clock Tower

    12. Allen-Bradley Clock Tower

    This local landmark (now the headquarters of Rockwell Automation) holds the record for the largest four-faced clock in the Western Hemisphere. The glowing clock faces shine down over Milwaukee’s once heavily Polish south side, earning it the nickname “The Polish Moon.” Read More

 

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