The Pfister Hotel Restores its Iconic Lobby

Careful craftsmanship preserves the soaring lobby’s most beloved details; refreshed décor, lighting and seating to accentuate the hotel’s essence of modern elegance and sophistication

For more than 130 years, The Pfister Hotel’s soaring lobby has welcomed travelers and locals alike with both impeccable elegance and a comforting sense of ease. Now, the historic AAA Four Diamond hotel, owned and managed by Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, is further accentuating the grandeur of Milwaukee’s most beautiful lobby, as part of the next phase of The Pfister’s extensive $20 million renovation plan. Set to be complete this summer, this follows the full revitalization of The Pfister’s ballrooms, meeting and event spaces, and historic guest rooms.

“Celebrating over a century of timeless elegance, The Pfister stands as a beacon of luxury and heritage. As we focus on the meticulous renovation of our historic lobby and first-floor public spaces, we are reminded that in addition to revitalizing physical spaces, we are preserving a storied legacy,” said Michael Evans, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts. “While enhancing the future experience of our guests, we are also honoring the countless memories that have been woven into the fabric of The Pfister since 1893.”

Lobby rendering


A Timeless Mural

The Pfister’s award-winning domed painted ceiling, which was created in 1993 to celebrate The Pfister’s 100th anniversary, recently underwent a careful refurbishment to preserve its original design and give it new life for the next century. The iconic “Salve” – a Pfister legacy of excellence established by Guido and Charles Pfister when the hotel first opened – continues to preside over the lobby, with new lighting accenting the ceiling’s delicate artwork and architecture. “Salve,” which means a warm welcome and a promise of a safe and comfortable stay in the finest of accommodations, is both a pledge to every guest who enters The Pfister as well as a credo to every associate committed to delivering excellence at every turn.

The Pfister once again commissioned Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc., creators of timeless interiors and fine works of art for buildings of architectural, historic, and religious significance throughout Milwaukee and beyond, to restore the ceiling mural as Conrad Schmitt Studios, Inc. was the original designer of the iconic mural. Designed by Bernard O. Gruenke and his son Bernard E. Gruenke, the refurbishment was completed by Bernard E.’s children and several grandchildren, creating a unique tie to the hotel’s strong familial connections, tradition, and history.

Marrying Yesterday with Today

In addition to the domed ceiling, the lobby’s other signature elements will be restored, including the original marble found along the grand staircase, as well as the historic chandeliers and the cozy fireplace, complete with original terracotta stone. The famous life-size bronze lions will continue their watch at the staircase landing, while several original sculptures, statues and other artwork will adorn the lobby. Each signature element will be lightly refurbished for both aesthetic and functional purposes.

In addition to the renewal of the lobby’s most beloved features, the renovation will feature a warm neutral color palette with new tailored drapery and luxurious furnishings that include curated antiques and new furniture designed to be reminiscent of the late 1800s, with the comfort and sophistication of today. Custom Axminister carpet will weave throughout the lobby, with a distinct design to mimic the lobby’s architecture. The popular lobby bar will also include upgraded lighting and furnishings that emphasize the hotel’s historical design elements.

Revitalized Event Spaces and Historic Guest Rooms

The Pfister has already completed renovations of its stately meeting and event spaces and historic guest rooms. Utilizing a new and refined color palette, nearly every element of the ballrooms and meeting and event spaces were updated to include luxurious wallcoverings, custom Axminster wool carpet, state-of-the-art lighting and technology, tailored drapery and historic fixtures for a new appealing look that honors the hotel’s historic roots. The redesign also incorporated many elements of The Pfister’s storied past, including The Imperial Ballroom’s original gold-plated chandeliers and stunning gilded ceiling, as well as the Grand Ballroom’s exquisite crystal chandeliers. In addition, the pre-function area was updated to complement the renovations with added functional nuances for customized guest experiences.

The Pfister’s newly renovated historic guest rooms are now available for visitors to experience the hotel’s timeless elegance and history. The lavishly appointed rooms feature modern takes on Victorian design and include updated furnishings, new crown molding, additional consigned works of art, plush custom carpeting, and refreshed drapery and window treatments along with updated lighting designed to brighten every room. Each guest room features a completely new bathroom with modern design amenities, Wisconsin-based Kohler Co. bathroom fixtures, and mirrors with built-in lighting. All updated rooms now feature a wet bar area for entertaining, with marble countertops and custom wood cabinets.

Information on the future phases of The Pfister’s renovation will be forthcoming. More about the project can be found here.

About The Pfister Hotel
Celebrating over 130 years, The Pfister Hotel is one of the oldest and most prestigious hotels in the Midwest and downtown Milwaukee. Originally opened in 1893 by businessman Guido Pfister, it was the most lavish hotel of its time. Today, The Pfister Hotel continues its tradition of gracious service and impeccable style and has been recognized by AAA as a Four Diamond property for over 45 consecutive years. The hotel is also consistently recognized by top national industry and travel publications and associations, such as Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Reader’s Choice Awards as a Top Hotel in the Midwest. This exceptional property is a member of two distinguished hotel organizations, Historic Hotels of America, and Preferred Hotels & Resorts. For more information, please visit www.thepfisterhotel.com and follow the hotel on Facebook and Twitter (@PfisterHotel).

About Marcus Hotels & Resorts
Marcus Hotels & Resorts owns and/or manages 16 hotels, resorts, and other properties in the U.S. The company’s distinctive portfolio includes city-center meeting hotels, upscale resorts, historic properties, and premium branded and independent first-class hotels. Marcus Hotels & Resorts is an approved operator for all major lodging brands. A leader in the hospitality industry since 1962, Marcus Hotels & Resorts creates asset value for hotel owners through its expertise in management, development and product repositioning. This includes unique food and beverage concepts, developed by Marcus Hotels & Resorts, such as Mason Street Grill, ARIA Restaurant, Milwaukee ChopHouse, Miller Time® Pub & Grill and SafeHouse® Restaurant. For more information, please visit: http://media.marcushotels.com and follow the company on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.