Historic Architecture

History buffs will love exploring the diverse array of historic places and unique architecture in Milwaukee. The city's commitment to preservation and revitalization means many historic buildings from mansions to churches are still in use today.

Insider Tip: Go behind the scenes at more than 150 buildings during Doors Open Milwaukee.

  1. This local landmark (now the headquarters of Rockwell Automation) holds the record for the largest four-faced clock in the Western Hemisphere. The glowing clock faces shine down over Milwaukee’s once heavily Polish south side, earning it the nickname “The Polish Moon.”

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  2. The crown jewel of churches in Milwaukee, this became the third church in the United States honored with the title of “basilica” in 1929 and is still the largest church in the city. Self-guided tours are available all week, or stop by after Mass on Sunday for a formal tour.

    620 W. Lincoln Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53215
    (414) 902-3524
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  3. Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

    Prairie School

    Frank Lloyd Wright Houses

    Six of 13 known American System-Built Homes by Wisconsin-native Frank Lloyd Wright line West Burnham Street. Guided interior tours of the Model B1 are available two Saturdays each month, and architecture buffs should note that one of the other homes is available as a vacation rental.

    2714 W. Burnham Street
    Milwaukee, WI • 53215
    (414) 368-0060
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  4. Iron Block Building


    Iron Block Building

    Built in 1861, the Iron Block is a landmark of special architectural significance. It belongs to a vanishing breed of American structures with façades entirely composed of cast iron.

    205 E. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee , WI • 53202
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  5. Mackie Building


    Mackie Building

    Also known as the Chamber of Commerce, the building is a Victorian landmark built in 1879 to house what was once the world’s largest grain exchange. The Italian Renaissance-style space is rich with frescoes, stained glass, columns, arches, and carvings. Gargoyles guard each corner of the bell tower atop the building.

    225 E. Michigan Street
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
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  6. Milwaukee City Hall

    Flemish Renaissance Revival

    Milwaukee City Hall

    Milwaukee City Hall is a National Historic Landmark and an excellent example of classic Flemish Renaissance architecture. Upon its completion in 1895, City Hall was the second tallest building in America, exceeded only by the Philadelphia City Hall. Inside, an expansive atrium rises up eight stories. The bell tower stands 353 feet, inhabited by a 22,500-pound bell named Solomon Juneau, after Milwaukee’s first mayor.

    200 E. Wells Street
    Room 201
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
    (414) 286-2221
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  7. Milwaukee Public Library


    Milwaukee Public Library

    First opened in 1898, this imposing structure is a combination of French and Italian Renaissance styles, built of Bedford limestone and featuring a hand-carved limestone staircase. The library also has 33,000 square feet of green roof.

    814 W. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53233
    (414) 286-3000
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  8. Mitchell Building

    French Second Empire

    Mitchell Building

    Sister to the Mackie Building, this is one of the country’s finest examples of French Second Empire architecture, a style based upon Parisian buildings designed during the reign of Napoleon. It was built in 1876 by the man who also built the Mackie Building, Alexander Mitchell, a banker and railroad and lumber businessman.

    207 E. Michigan Street
    Milwaukee , WI • 53202
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  9. Established in 1855, the North Point Lighthouse is an architectural and historic treasure. Located on a high bluff in Lake Park, one of Milwaukee’s oldest public parks, the lighthouse remained operational until its deactivation in 1994. It stands 74 feet high, and its keeper’s quarters and lighthouse are open for touring.

    2650 N. Wahl Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53211
    (414) 332-6754
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  10. Pabst Mansion

    Flemish Renaissance Revival

    Pabst Mansion

    Once home of beer baron Captain Frederick Pabst and his family, this mansion is the epitome of Gilded Age splendor. The house has been lovingly restored to its original grandeur and features fine period furniture and architectural details. It’s an especially enchanting sight fully decked out for a Victorian Christmas.

    2000 W. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53233
    (414) 931-0808
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  11. This splendid theater was built in the tradition of the grand European opera houses in 1895 by brewing magnate Captain Frederick Pabst. One of the oldest continuously operating theaters in the U.S., the Pabst features an opulent Baroque interior, including an Austrian crystal chandelier, a staircase crafted from white Italian Carrara marble, and a proscenium arch — highlighted in gold leaf — framing the stage.

    144 E. Wells Street
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
    (414) 242-8200
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  12. The Pfister Hotel

    Romanesque Revival

    The Pfister Hotel

    Built in 1893 in the style of the grand hotels of Europe, this historic hotel is truly a Milwaukee icon. Featuring Romanesque Revival design, the hotel is also home to the world’s largest hotel collection of Victorian art and continues to support the arts through its Artist- in-Residence program.

    424 E. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
    (414) 273-8222
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  13. Believed to be the oldest medieval structure in the Western Hemisphere dedicated to its original purpose, this chapel stood for more than 500 years as part of a French estate and was moved to the U.S. stone- by-stone in the 1920s and to the Marquette University campus in the 1960s. Legend has it that Joan of Arc prayed before the early Gothic altar and kissed the stone where she stood, and that stone has forever remained colder than those that surround it.

    Marquette University
    1442 W. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53233
    (414) 288-7250
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  14. Ten Chimneys


    Ten Chimneys

    The home of late Broadway legends Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt, this 60-acre estate is less than an hour outside the city and remains virtually unchanged since they first applied their theatrical style and assembled the beautiful historic furnishings and diverse collections on view today.

    S43 W31575 Depot Road
    P. O. Box 225
    Genesee Depot, WI • 53127
    (262) 968-4161
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  15. City of Cedarburg

    Greek Revival, Italianate, Queen Anne Style architecture

    City of Cedarburg

    It’s only a 20-minute drive north of Milwaukee to the picturesque, riverside village of Cedarburg. Cedarburg’s downtown historic district is lined with buildings from the 1800s and is home to 70 specialty shops, galleries, restaurants, coffee houses, and two restored inns. Spend the day exploring all the shopping options and be sure to check out Cedar Creek Settlement, a restored flour mill with three floors of shops.

    N58 W6194 Columbia Rd., Corner of Washington & Columbia Rd,
    Cedarburg, WI • 53012
    (262) 377-9620
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  16. Tripoli Shrine

    Moorish Revival

    Tripoli Shrine

    An architectural replica of India’s Taj Mahal with an ornate interior, including stunning mosaics and original art and furniture, this landmark was built in 1928 and remains the home of Milwaukee’s Shriners International.

    3000 W. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53208
    (414) 933-4700
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  17. Turner Hall

    Romanesque Revival

    Turner Hall

    Built in 1883, Turner Hall (Turnverein Milwaukee) is a National Historic Landmark and the last vestige of 19th century German Milwaukee that is still devoted to its original purpose. In addition to the ongoing gymnastics program, the Turner Hall ballroom is a popular concert venue.

    1040 N. Vel R. Phillips Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53203
    (414) 242-8200
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  18. Built in the style of an Italian villa, this museum and its stunning Renaissance Garden overlook Lake Michigan. Inside you’ll find a collection of fine decorative arts, including wrought-iron masterpieces by Cyril Colnik. While you’re in the area, stop by the Charles Allis Art Museum, located inside a beautiful Tudor home

    2220 N. Terrace Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
    (414) 271-3656
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  19. The 20-story Wisconsin Gas Building is Wisconsin’s finest Art Deco skyscraper and is considered a masterpiece of form, distinctive for its cascading masses, jazzy brick patterns, and terracotta friezes. Atop the building is a 21-foot tall plastic weather flame. This famous flame is lit up at night with LED lighting, and forecasts the weather: blue – no change, red – hot, gold – cold, blinking - precipitation.

    626 E. Wisconsin Avenue
    Milwaukee, WI • 53202
    (414) 527-0606
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