Pfister Files: 120 Years

Posted by on Feb 17, 2013

Over the next few months, I will be dusting off pages from the Pfister’s history books and sharing bits of the Pfister’s prolific history. This is the second post in this series.

A lot can happen in 20 years. Nipping at the heels of the 120th anniversary of the Pfister Hotel, I thought now might be an interesting time to find out what things were like around here at the 100th anniversary.

I found a six-page newspaper supplement from 1993 commemorating the centennial celebration of the Pfister Hotel, which gave me a good sense of sentiment for this momentous occasion. Jean Towell from the Milwaukee Journal said it best: “Entering the lobby of The Pfister Hotel is like stepping into another era – one that’s more gracious and civilized than the one you left. Courteous service prevails and you feel a sense of gentility that’s some how lost in the choas of everyday life outside.” Twenty years later it’s still true, but the best part is that The Pfister has that same elegance and you wear jeans and even bring your dog.

In 1993, Rosemary Steinfest was the General Manager (the only female GM in history), The English Room was the place to be for fine dining and they just wrapped up a five-year renovation to restore The Pfister’s 19th century splendor. The lobby’s original fireplace was uncovered, guest rooms in the tower were constructed, and presidential suites and 7th floor conference and banquet center were added. The Cafe at the Pfister was the final addition, along with bringing the whole building up to speed with 21st century amenities.

Recognize this guy? Yes, the lovable, loquacious concierge Peter Mortensen (and his mustache) was a fixture in lobby even twenty years ago.

Peter Mortensen, concierge and hotel historian,  in 1993. Photo by Dean E. Johnson, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal.

Peter Mortensen Concierge and hotel historian, in 1993. Photo by Dean E. Johnson, courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal.

Peter in 2012.

Peter in 2012.












The Rooms have also changed quite a bit. Gone is the era of pastels and florals, replaced by the warm, earth tones and modern design.


Guest room at the Pfister Hotel, circa 1990








Twenty years passed and though the styles may change, the same century-old traditions prevail. Congratulations to all who have taken part in preserving this great legacy for Milwaukee.

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