When Alexander Mitchell, a leading Milwaukee businessman and politician, finished enlarging his rambling mansion in the 1870s from a relatively small c. 1848 house, it was the finest private home in Wisconsin. The present building results from major remodelings and additions supplemented by further additions in 1906 and 1937 for a large ballroom wing.
The house’s Second Empire design sports a hallmark mansard roof and a mansarded tower. Some of the most lavish wood carving of the 1870s embellishes the exterior and interior of the rambling cream brick house, now painted white. Bay windows and gables and the four-story entrance tower are trimmed with columns and pilasters, carved wooden brackets, and wooden hood molds, and the house has a magnificent double-leaf entrance door. The Mitchell family monogram appears under the arched cornice over the front door. The interior retains its outstanding wood-work and fixtures, including a central staircase ornamented with carved lions’ heads on the balustrade newel posts. Two of the down-stairs parlors are finished in Moorish style and feature stalactite-like carved wooden ceilings. They may be among the most elaborate surviving examples of this interior design style, which enjoyed several years of popularity with wealthy patrons during the 1870s and 1880s.
In 1895, some years after Alexander Mitchell’s death, his widow sold the mansion to the Deutscher Club, a prestigious social and business organization. The club built the two-story mansard-roofed west wing of the house in 1906, and by 1937 the addition occupied the site of Mitchell’s huge conservatory. The second floor of the wing contains an immense two-story ballroom finished in 1937, which features a musicians’ gallery and a vaulted ornamental plaster ceiling. During World War I, the club changed its Germanic name to the Wisconsin Club; it still occupies the house.
On the front lawn inside the massive wrought-iron W. Wisconsin Avenue gates is a pagoda-roofed High Victorian Gothic style summer house of the early 1870s profusely ornamented with carved and jigsawed wood-work.