A Palace for the People
12 Dec, 2012
by Jenna Kashou
The King of Hospitality knows a thing or two about throwing a party. I, along with 500 of Mr. Marcus’s closest friends, attended a dinner celebration last week to commemorate his 50th anniversary of Pfister Hotel ownership.
Both Mayor Barrett and Governor Walker declared December 6th “Steve Marcus Day” in Milwaukee. Guests even took home Steve Marcus bobble heads. If there’s any indicator that you’ve made it in life, a mayoral declaration and a personalized bobble head should really top the list.
Stephen’s father, Ben, handed the hotel over to him in 1962 in total disrepair so Steve undertook a $7 million renovation and added on the 23-floor tower. He later found out that the collection of Victorian art was worth more than the hotel at the time. Steve was able to carry out the original vision for the hotel, creating a “palace for the people.”
A few other fun facts I learned:
- Every president since McKinley has stayed at the hotel
- Rosemary Steinfest was the first female GM and worked there from 1962 to 1996 (She’s a lovely lady – more on her to come in January)
- Dr. Jeffery Hollander has been the musician in residence for 30 years
- There was a piano piece commissioned in 1894 called The Pfister March
The three Marcus boys talked about the historical significance of the hotel and its impact on their life and family. Greg, Steve’s son, put it best when he said they think of it more as “caring for” the hotel, rather than owning it.
The Pfister is filled with special memories for so many other people too. I shared a table with George and Anastasia Papageorge, who married at the Pfister on October 26, 1958. Their daughter also got married there in 1972 and they even celebrated their 25th and 50th anniversaries there. Now, they are hoping their granddaughter will carry on the Papageorge tradition and tie the knot at the Pfister soon! They say that the “Pfister was, and is, the one and only hotel in Milwaukee.”
Through all the remarks, laughs and historical details, the most touching part of the evening was that after all these years, the Pfister is still relevant and marvelous things still happen every day.