Pleiss House

726 North 34th St

The Tudor style mansion was built by August Pleiss in 1902 at a cost of $10,000, on land purchase from the Merrill Family.  It has large rooms with high ceilings, many windows, natural oak floors, two stairways, and fireplaces in the living and dining rooms.

Pleiss was owner of the famous Schlitz Palm Garden located at the corner of Grand Avenue and Third Street.  At the time, he and his partner, Phillip Heck, controlled the largest retail trade in beer in the United States, selling 4,500 barrels in 1898.

From approximately 1920 to 1946 the Weinhagen family occupied the residence.  In 1946 Marquette University’s Psi Omega Professional Dental Fraternity acquired the property for $25,000.  Notes on the acquisition stated that the house had four bathrooms, accommodated 30-35 people, and is equipped for heating and meals.  The third floor served as a dormitory where most of the fraternity members slept in bunk beds.  The basement provided study and social options:  the fraternity installed a “modern well equipped laboratory” as well as a stone and concrete bar.  The fraternity appears to have been quite active.  For example, in March 1955, the Assistant Dean of Men was forced to visit the fraternity house at 3:30 a.m., where he discovered that whiskey and “dates” had been at the house.  Worse yet, the men did not know the last names of their dates, although they did try to guess!  Neighbors frequently complained about the fraternity.  Psi Omega Fraternity occupied the house until approximately 1968.

In 1987 Milwaukee Home Hospice, under the direction of James Ewens, acquired the house, which had been vacant for several years.  It paid $40,000 for the property that the Milwaukee Journal described as “deteriorating,” all boarded up” and “gone to seed.”  After significant restoration, Milwaukee Home Hospice occupied the house until 1993.

Since 1994, this house has been renovated quite thoroughly top to bottom to suit a new purpose as home to the Père Marquette Jesuit Community, a community of Jesuit priests and brothers who work at Marquette University High School, Nativity Jesuit Academy, and Cristo Rey Jesuit High School.  During the early renovations, in yard work, the Jesuits uncovered and removed the remains of an ornamental fountain in the front yard, most likely from the Pleiss and/or Weinhagen days.

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