It always surprises me how many hotels there once were in Downtown Milwaukee, from the Cross Keys to the Gilpatrick to the Schroeder to the Maryland to the Belmont to the Wisconsin to The Pfister to the Republican House and on and on and on. Seemingly too many to count (though surely thatâ€™s not true, strictly speaking).
Recently, while nosing around Westown, I stumbled across the old Auditorium Hotel, alternately apparently known as the Hotel Auditorium (see the photo above) â€“ not to be confused with the famous Chicago hotel of the same name or the more elaborate one with that name in Verona, near Madison.
Though the building was razed in 1965, it stood for nearly a century at 1123-25 N. 4th St. (337-339 in the old numbering system), between Highland and Juneau, on the West Side of the street, where the Bradley Center now stands.
There was a hotel on this site dating back at least to around 1850 when the wooden Fond du Lac Hotel was run by Auer and Bechtel. The two-story place was also known as the Auer Hotel for a time and it was known for its well-kept grounds.
In 1879, Peter Dix bought the place and tore down the old building to erect a new one that was reported to have 75 rooms. The three-story brick Italianate building was designed by architect Joseph Max Landguth.
Dix spent about $8,000 constructing the new â€“ and now eponymous â€“ hotel. The 1894 Sanborn Fire Insurance Map suggests the building was vacant but destined to house another hotel. Indeed by 1902 it was called Thomas House, owned by C. Thomas, and, later, Boghâ€™s European Hotel.
By 1910, the Sanborn shows the building as home to the Auditorium Hotel, which boasted steam heat, gaslight and a dining room. Just up the street was Wolfâ€™s Hotel. Who was staying in all these places? Traveling salesmen? Visiting dignitaries? Some were likely residential hotels.
The Hotel Auditorium endured as we can see from the photo above â€“ featuring a fine Pabst sign â€“ which is in the stellar collection …Read more...