2000 W WISCONSIN AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record


Architecture and History Inventory
2000 W WISCONSIN AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Frederick Pabst House (Marie and Captain Frederick Pabst)
Reference Number:30265
Location (Address):2000 W WISCONSIN AVE
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1890
Survey Date:1984
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:German Renaissance Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Pabst, Frederick, House
National Register Listing Date:4/21/1975
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. PHOTO CODE J IS FOR JAS NEGATIVES. VAL MAND AND ROBERTS BROS. WERE THE BUILDERS. Pabst (3/28/1836-1/1/1904) was the president of the Best Brewery from 1873-1889 and of the Pabst Brewery from 1889-1904.

The Pabst Mansion is Milwaukee's crown jewel. Built for Captain Frederick Pabst, whose Pabst Brewing Company was the world's largest at the turn of the century, the house is an excellent example of late nineteenth-century German Renaissance Revival design. The two-and-one-half-story, symmetrical mansion echoes sixteenth-century northern German architecture. Its exterior terracotta ornamentation imitates carved brownstone, and delicate terracotta scroll work trims the steeply pitched, shaped gables, placing it among the most academic examples in America of this design tradition. The entire arcaded front porch is clad in terracotta, molded into strapwork and floral ornament. The Neo-Baroque domed pavilion at the east end of the house originated as the Pabst Brewing Company pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago. After the fair, it was shipped back to Milwaukee and added to the mansion for use as a summer house, but it was later converted into a chapel.

Inside the well-conserved Pabst Mansion, visitors find late nineteenth-century interiors, including some of the era's finest surviving woodwork and wall treatments. The mansion has been beautifully preserved as

"The crown jewel of Milwaukee's architectural treasures is the Captain Frederick Pabst mansion, the sole Victorian-era beer baron's mansion to survive intact in the city. It is also one of the few reminders of the period when mansions lined Wisconsin Avenue, which was then known as Grand Avenue. The prestigious architectural firm of Ferry & Clas was commissioned to design this costly mansion which popularized the German Renaissance Revival style in Milwaukee. Immediately, other prosperous German-Americans emulated the Pabsts, who were then the leading German family in the city, bu constructing a host of other distinctive German-style structures thus helping to give Milwaukee its unique Old World look.

Ferry & Clas looked to the Northern European Renaissance and the homes then being built in Germany for the inspiration for this 35-room mansion. The architects lavished considerable attention on the exquisite exterior detailing the building, which can best be seen in the shaped gables, front porch and porte-cochere. S-scrolls, C-scrolls, floral ornament, strapwork, and scrolled pediments were executed in tan terra cotta to match the color of the brick. The richly detailed domed pavilion at the east end of the building served as the Pabst Brewing Company's pavilion at the 1893 Columbian Exposition in Chicago and was shipped back here after the fair and added to the recently completed mansion for use as a summer house. It was later converted into a chapel.

Captain Frederick Pabst (1836-1904) was a native of Nicholausreith, Saxony, Germany, who came to this country as a youth. By the age of 21 he had acquired his captain's papers and was part owner of a Great Lakes steamship. He was known as "Captain" for the rest of his life. Pabst made a career change after marrying brewery heiress Marie Best, and in 1864 became a partner with his father-in-law, Philip Best, in the latter's brewery. Best subsequently retired to a life of leisure in Germany leaving his two sons-in-law in charge of the brewery. Pabst became company president in 1889, and the brewery was later renamed after him. The construction of the $255,000 mansion was his first big indulgence after assuming control of the company and signaled the beginning of a major expansion of the brewery's interests nationwide.

Pabst died on New Year's Day in 1904, and his wife, Marie, followed him in death in 1906. With his children all settled into mansions of their own, the Wisconsin Avenue property was sold by the family to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and from 1908 to 1975 served as the archbishop's residence. When the Archdiocese sold the mansion to a developer who intended to raze it, Wisconsin Heritages was founded to save the building from demolition. Although the matching carriage barn was razed, and the rear yard was sold off, Wisconsin Heritages was successful in acquiring the house itself, and since 1978 has undertaken an ambitious and meticulously authentic restoration." MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994.

Covenant/Easement: From 5/31/1978 to 5/31/2018. A 'covenant file' exists for this property. It may contain additional information such as photos, drawings and correspondence. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, State Historic Preservation Office.
Bibliographic References:MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994. AMERICAN AUTOMOBILE ASSOCIATION WORLD MAGAZINE, JANUARY/FEBRUARY 1995, PP.4D-4F. BUILT IN MILWAUKEE, LANDSCAPE RESEARCH, P. 142. BROOKFIELD NEWS 11/2/1995. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 12/8/1996. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel 3/22/1999. American Architect and Building News, v. 31, p. 94, pl. 789, 2/7/1891. National Register of Historic Places. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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