Last week I was in Milwaukee to attend the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH). I have not attended an OAH in many years and was surprised that I didn’t find that many interesting panels. Compared to the American Historical Association (AHA) meetings, the OAH was kind of boring. It was also very white with very little diversity.
Because there wasn’t that much of interest and we were in the Brew City, on Friday my husband and I went sightseeing. We went to the Pabst Mansion which was about a mile walk from our hotel. Of course it was very cold, very windy with a slight freezing rain. The walk was therefore very exhilarating.
The Pabst Mansion was built by Frederick Pabst in 1892. It is a Flemish Renaissance Revival home. When it was built it was surrounded by other mansions although neither of the other two big brewers in Milwaukee lived on that street. The homes of Valentin Blatz and the Uihleins (Schlitz beer) are no longer standing.
Pabst’s home was very nice and it was clear from the furnishings that he was a wealthy man. However compared to other Gilded Age mansions I have seen, particularly in Newport, Rhode Island, the Pabst mansion is not as grandiose and opulent as those. The beer barons may have been trying to recreate a German style of fine living while the railroad magnates who built homes in Newport were aiming to recreate the style of French aristocracy.
One interesting thing in the house was that the staircases had hop finials and you can buy souvenir replicas in the gift shop. There were also paintings about brewing throughout the house. Several came from the offices of Pabst Brewing which were located at the brewery.
More about the Pabst Brewery and what remains of it tomorrow.