According to The Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion: An Illustrated History by John C. Eastberg, Captain Pabst, of the Pabst Brewing Company, built this house for his eldest daughter, Elizabeth Pabst Von Ernst, and her husband, Otto Von Ernst. Unfortunately, Elizabeth did not live in the house for long before her death in 1891 at age 22, about six months after the birth of her first child, Elsbeth. It’s believed that the next owner was the Freshel (spelling?) family.
The home was designed by Alfred Charles Clas. This may have been one of Clas’ last solo commissions. In 1890 Clas formed what would prove to be a prolific partnership with George Bowman Ferry. The first commission of the new Ferry & Clas partnership was Captain Pabst’s home at what is now Wisconsin Avenue at 20th Street.
This red-brick Queen Anne is almost 6,000 square feet. The mansion is one of the few remaining homes in the neighborhood that still has its porte-cochere or carriage porch. Be sure to note the interesting terra cotta trim on the home’s exterior.
The long process was begun in the late 1990s to bring what had become a 22-room boarding house back to a single-family residence. During the renovation, murals were found on the dining room and parlor ceilings under layers of grime. The decorative murals are attributable to Otto Von Ernst (Captain Pabst’s son-in-law) who was an academic artist and major figure in the Milwaukee art world.
Historic photos courtesy of the Pabst Mansion.