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Historic Milwaukee wedding venues
Today's bride-to-be is more DIY-obsessed than ever before, but why not seek a venue that speaks for itself already


February 2015

Turner Hall Ballroom
Photography by Andy Stenz Photography


Turner Hall Ballroom

—1038 N. 4th St.

Turner Hall’s history dates back to 1882, when the venue first opened its doors. Designed by famed German architect Henry C. Koch, it served as a gathering place for the Milwaukee’s large German population ­— a safe haven where cultural and political attitudes could be expressed freely. The Victorian-style building, which is said to resemble a European cathedral, survived two major fires and has since undergone serious restoration efforts. The Pabst Theater Group assumed operations for Turner Hall in 2007, and the ballroom’s use as a wedding venue has grown tremendously, from just six weddings in 2011 to 55 weddings in 2014. The ballroom sits 300 comfortably or 400 with use of the balcony.

Milwaukee County Historical Center
Photography by Heather Cook Elliott Photography


Milwaukee County Historical Center

— 910 N. Old World 3rd St.

Operated by the Milwaukee County Historical Society, the Milwaukee County Historical Center was originally built as a Second Ward Savings Bank in 1913. Its origin as a financial facility lends to its distinctive features, which include vintage bank vault doors, marble columns and gold leaf accents. Plus, the center’s affiliation with the historical society, an organization that collects artifacts and archival documents in an effort to preserve Milwaukee’s rich history, grants guests the opportunity to view these historic pieces throughout the event. Maximum capacity is 350 for a seated dinner, and the center’s proximity to Pere Marquette Park provides an outdoor ceremony location.

Grain Exchange
Photography by Front Room Photography


Grain Exchange

— 225 E. Michigan St.

The Grain Exchange room is located inside the Mackie Building, which was constructed in 1879 to house the Milwaukee Chamber of Commerce. The first of its kind in the country, the Grain Exchange room functioned as a trading room — a place where merchants could buy and sell harvests. The walls and ceiling are lined with hand-painted frescoes, and limestone and granite are incorporated throughout the room’s Italian-inspired architecture. A complete restoration of the venue was completed in 1983, and in 2008, the Bartolotta Catering Company & Events became its exclusive caterer. The room accommodates up to 500 guests. Use of the expansive balcony is also included.

Best Place
Photography by Mark Bertieri


Best Place

— 901 W. Juneau Ave.

Located on the grounds of the historic Pabst Brewery, Best Place’s history runs deep. Its primary venue, The Great Hall, was built in 1880 and is located in the former accounting offices of Pabst’s original corporate headquarters. The hall also includes the former office of Captain Frederick Pabst. The space’s Old World touches (think wood-paneled walls and wrought iron chandeliers) add to its warmth, and the back bar is from Cristanelli’s Saloon in Michigan, a bar that was rumored to be frequented by Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. The venue seats up to 300 guests and includes use of the outdoor courtyard areas.

The Imperial Ballroom at The Pfister Hotel

The Grand and Imperial Ballrooms at The Pfister Hotel

— 424 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The Pfister Hotel proved its worth as an historically rich wedding venue last summer, when the hotel hosted its first-ever fourth-generation wedding in the Grand Ballroom. Many famous people have stayed at the hotel since its 1893 inception, including every president since William McKinley. It offers not one, but two wedding venues — the Victorian-designed Imperial Ballroom and the more expansive Grand Ballroom. The Pfister also houses the largest collection of Victorian art found in any hotel in the world, with many pieces on display throughout both ballrooms. The Imperial Ballroom can accommodate up to 300 guests, and the Grand Ballroom can seat a maximum of 600 guests.

This story ran in the February 2015 issue of: