A Historical Look

Thursday, Jan 16  ·  Milwaukee, The Café

As we enter our own Roaring Twenties, we look back at the history of our building, greatly influenced by the trends of the time. Designed and built by architect George W. Adams in 1925, The Plaza Hotel was originally constructed as two separate buildings, both rich in Art Deco characteristics.

Machine-age streamlining and sleek geometry is emphasized around every corner. From clean, strong lines evident in the wall construction and window design to the colorful tile floors, walking through our space is like being taken back in time. Although not all the design is lavish, as the building (as well as many others during that time period) was forced to save money on white and grey paint through the Great Depression. These differing styles capture the two Art Deco phases found throughout the hotel to this day.

After our building was able to dust off the Great Depression, World War II came right behind it, calling on its resilience once again. Serving as one of Milwaukee’s first bomb shelters along with providing cots for sailors traveling through Milwaukee, The Plaza Hotel did its part to help.

In 1950, the Tea Room was converted to a small café, with a seemingly reserved lunch counter installed. In 1984, the building, along with its winding history, was sold to the Crichton family. Only the second owners the building has ever had, the Crichton’s still own and run The Plaza Hotel today. The Crichtons are invested in maintaining The Plaza’s unique Art Deco style that has given it character all these years. Oh yeah, and that unassuming lunch counter from 1950? That’s still there, fully treasured by Milwaukee locals. Just like about everything else in our wonderful time capsule of a Milwaukee staple.  

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