Milwaukee Club History
Located on the northeast corner of North Jefferson Street and East Wisconsin Avenue, The Milwaukee Club has been variously called “an institution” and “a genteel old strong hold on conservatism.” Perhaps the most appropriate one-line description was used in the old Casper’s City Guidebooks, which called it…”the oldest and most exclusive club in the city.”
The history of this pioneering adventure began in the winter of 1881, when a number of local businessmen began discussing the feasibility of establishing a social club. Not long thereafter, in January of 1882, a dozen men held an organizational meeting in the newspaper office of Andrew J. Aikens at the Evening Wisconsin Building and adopted the name, The Milwaukee Club.
By the end of that month, 112 prospective members put their signatures on an historic handwritten document which is still preserved in the Club office. Dated January 28, 1882, the two pages are headed…”The Milwaukee Club” organized according to the laws of the State of Wisconsin – No personal Liability – Membership $100.00, Annual Dues $50.00.
On February 17, 1882, the executive committee met to sign the articles of association and on March 6 of that year the new members gathered in the ladies parlor of the ill-fated Newhall House Hotel for the first meeting. (In less than a year, that hotel burned to the ground in a tragic fire.) By then, 115 of the city’s “leading citizens” had subscribed. They elected Alexander Mitchell as their first president. Among the early membership, which amounted to a “who’s who” on local banking, commercial, and industrial circles, were such predominate family names as Fitch, Layton, Plankinton, Allis, Uihlein, Bradley, James, Chapman, Fitzgerald, Van Dyke, Ilsley, Pfister, Wells, and Pabst.
Not only did The Milwaukee Club open the era social “clubdom” here in 1882, it became the first men’s club west of the Allegheny Mountains. With the passage of time, there is something reassuring about the presence of the original clubhouse, on the same corner, maintained with the same reverence for tradition and high standards that has been in place for more than 130 years.