Milwaukee, July 25, 2023 — The Pfister Hotel, a historic AAA Four Diamond hotel owned and managed by Marcus® Hotels & Resorts, today announced that it is undergoing an extensive, state-of-the-art, multi-phase renovation to further elevate its renowned exceptional guest experience. The renovation, which began in June and is expected to cost approximately $20 million, will feature a full revitalization of the ballrooms and meeting spaces, followed by all-new guest rooms in its historic tower, and conclude with enhancements to the hotel’s iconic lobby, lobby bar, and Café at the Pfister. All phases of this renovation are expected to be completed by spring 2024, with the newly renovated Imperial Ballroom hosting its first wedding this past weekend
“Celebrating its 130th anniversary this year, The Pfister is the crown jewel of Milwaukee” said Michael Evans, president of Marcus Hotels & Resorts. “For generations, The Pfister has been the hotel of choice for presidents, poets, performers and hall of famers. It has served as the trusted backdrop to red-carpet events, history-making announcements, as well as countless galas, weddings, meetings, reunions and more. With these renovations, we are blending our celebrated history and traditions with contemporary refinements, fresh aesthetics and enhanced amenities that will result in The Pfister’s continuation as a Milwaukee and national icon for generations to come.”
Stately Ballrooms and Event Spaces
The first phase of renovations has begun on the seventh floor in The Pfister’s stately meeting and event spaces. The beautiful Imperial Ballroom and King’s Row gave guests their first look at the complete redesign this weekend, with The Grand Ballroom and the Hall of Presidents to follow soon. As the most celebrated ballrooms in Milwaukee, these spaces are home to the start of countless marriages, where Milwaukee’s top charities raise millions in vitally needed funds, and where thousands of small to Fortune 100 companies meet to learn and celebrate.
Renderings of The Pfister Hotel’s Grand Ballroom
Utilizing a new and refined color palette, nearly every element of the seventh-floor meeting and event spaces will include luxurious wallcoverings, custom Axminster wool carpet, tailored drapery and historic fixtures for a new appealing look that honors the hotel’s historic roots. As added comfort, all restrooms are being renovated, along with an expanded women’s restroom and the construction of a new unisex restroom.
As host to hundreds of events per year that can accommodate 50 to 1,500 guests, the seventh-floor spaces will feature state-of-the-art technology to enhance the total event experience, including high-performance audio equipment that delivers superior sound as well as top-of-the-line lighting to match any ambiance, day or evening. Each space can be subdivided into smaller spaces to fit guests’ specific needs, with updated climate controls, private entrances for special guests, updated WiFi and conferencing capabilities, and more.
Continuing to honor its deep history in Milwaukee, the Pfister’s seventh floor renovations will also incorporate many elements of its storied past into the redesign, starting with its famous distinctive features. The Imperial Ballroom’s original gold-plated chandeliers have been refurbished to ensure they continue to gleam as they have for more than 130 years, and its stunning gilded ceiling retained its original detail following a restorative cleaning, while the Grand Ballroom’s exquisite crystal chandeliers will continue to shimmer over its guests. Key pieces of the hotel’s legacy Victorian art collection, including originals such as “Reverie” by Consuelo Fould, “Dorothy Vernon” by Louis Emile Adan and “Friends” by Pietro Scadrone, will continue to adorn the seventh floor. And when sitting down to a delectable meal, guests will dine on custom gold-plated fine china, designed to replicate the historic fine china once served at The Pfister Hotel many years ago.
In addition to the ballrooms and meeting spaces, the pre-function area on the seventh floor will complement the renovations with added functional nuances. For example, the seventh-floor bar will feature stone and woodwork details with a moveable wall to transition from daytime to nighttime events. This innovative design will allow for customized experiences, including an elevated full coffee presentation for morning events and a fully stocked bar for the evening. The gathering space will also include additional seating with pieces intentionally designed for aesthetics as well as to foster discussion and collaboration among event attendees.
Behind the scenes, The Pfister’s renovations will include enhancements to its professional catering services, including top-of-the-line commercial appliances utilized by only the finest dining establishments. Already known for its exceptional event offerings, these enhanced culinary capabilities will elevate the restaurant-quality meals and excellent service found at every event.
“For over a century, The Pfister has been our city’s enduring mainstay, holding as much of Milwaukee’s history as its own,” said Brandon Drusch, managing director of The Pfister Hotel. “For generations, the Pfister has been the hotel of choice for event planners and individual guests alike. And thanks to thoughtful planning, impeccable attention to detail, and expert craftsmanship, we are elevating our time-honored luxury in a way that is approachable and fresh for today’s guest.”
Historic Tower Guest Rooms and Lobby
Following the completion of the seventh-floor renovations in early Fall 2023, the hotel will begin extensive renovations to the guest rooms in the hotel’s historic tower. The historic guest rooms will be restyled with today’s discerning traveler in mind and include custom-designed carpet, new luxurious furnishings, updated drapery and window treatments, select new bar areas for entertaining, entirely new bathrooms with updated lighting fixtures, tile showers, mirrors with built-in lighting, and more.
Renovations to the lobby and first-floor public spaces will begin in early 2024 and will include new carpet, new luxurious furnishings, and updated color palettes to complement the iconic domed ceiling.
More information about these phases will be forthcoming. In the interim, renderings for The Pfister renovation can be found here.
The Pfister’s Storied History
For 130 years, The Pfister Hotel has stood as an icon of prestige, history and timeless excellence in Milwaukee. Originally the vision of businessman Guido Pfister and his son, Charles, the Romanesque Revival design and its groundbreaking innovations, such as fireproofing, electricity throughout the hotel and individual thermostat controls in every room, made it a true marvel in 1893. Many called it the “Grand Hotel of the West” as it was the most lavish hotel of its time, costing nearly $1 million to build.
In 1962, Ben Marcus purchased the hotel at auction with the intent of renovating the historic hotel back to its original beauty. Since then, the Pfister Hotel has and continues to host the world’s most recognized entertainers, athletes and dignitaries, including every U.S. President since William McKinley. In fact, the Pfister even served as John F. Kennedy’s election headquarters in 1960. The Pfister Hotel also boasts the most celebrated ballrooms in the city with hundreds of galas and special events taking place every year that raise at least $10 million annually.
Longstanding Dedication to the Arts
Woven throughout the cultural fiber of The Pfister Hotel is a longstanding passion for the arts. The hotel holds the largest Victorian art collection of any other hotel in the world. Originally collected by Guido and Charles Pfister, the expansive collection can be found on every floor throughout the hotel.
The Pfister Hotel also celebrates the arts with its internationally recognized Artist in Residence program. In its 14th year, the program selects an artist for a year-long residency where they work in the hotel’s working studio and gallery space that is open to hotel guests and visitors. The public is encouraged to interact with the artist and witness the evolution of their art firsthand, inviting collaboration and intimate experiences with artists and their works.