From Mattress Factory to Upscale Hotel

Exploring The Iron Horse Hotel's industrial history

The building that houses The Iron Horse Hotel is more than a century old, dating back to 1907. Designed by noted architectural firm Buemming & Dick, the structure was originally home to the Berger Bedding Company, a proud factory in Milwaukee's historic tannery district. Over time, the building traded hands, becoming Molitor Box Company in the late 1920's and eventually cold storage in 1955. Eventually a love of the structure drew Tim Dixon, a carpenter by trade, to purchase the warehouse in 2005 with the vision of opening a hotel. The Iron Horse Hotel was born.

Dixon hoped to capture the Industrial-era history and distinctive architecture of the building. But how does an aging factory transform into luxury accommodations?

Surprisingly, there are many links between the former warehouse and our current hotel that exist all around our guests. From the exposed beams in our atrium made of 300-year-old heart of pine timbers -- the building is the last timber frame construction left in Milwaukee -- to the factory's gears, springs, screws and bolts on display in our lobby, we've done everything we can to elevate the unique history of The Iron Horse Hotel.

Reclaiming the natural beauty of the industrial debris found during renovation, pieces of the building's past are woven throughout the structure you see today. The original factory vault now serves as a working fireplace in The Library. And the bar front and flower bins in our outdoor patio, The Yard, were crafted from the building's previous fire doors.

Where we weren't able to use preexisting materials, our design team worked to source antiques from other factories. These include the industrial side tables in the lobby, which herald from the former Packard Automotive Company in Detroit, Michigan. Upcycling may be seen as a trend, but here at The Iron Horse Hotel, we take it very seriously as a core of our ongoing design philosophy.

Like a window through time, the subtlest details at The Iron Horse Hotel can tell a story about life in industrial Milwaukee. Interested in finding out more? Stop by our front desk today to pick up our free guide to the hotel, and discover our history for yourself. Feel free to take a self-guided tour, or ask one of our associates for a personal tour of the hotel.

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