3 hours ago
Northwestern National Insurance Company Building, 1906. Ferry & Clas.
Another one that I expected to be long demolished, the old Northwestern National Insurance Company Building still stands like a little ornamental brooch on the Wisconsin Avenue streetscape.
The Northwestern National Insurance Company was founded in the late 1860s to insure against losses from fire and maritime disasters, quickly finding success. They tapped prolific local firm Ferry & Clas – it seems like they built everything in #Milwaukee between 1890-1910 – for their new headquarters, and this squat Beaux Arts temple was finished in 1906. After a century-long run of success, the Northwestern National Insurance Company’s started to struggle in the 1970s, and it was bought and sold repeatedly as it circled the drain. It looks like the remnants of the company were placed into liquidation this past May, its passing after 150+ years utterly unremarked upon. Their former headquarters is now an office of Northern Trust, a #bank for the super-rich.
The wacky circular #modernist skyscraper in the background is the Pfister Hotel Tower. It’s an absurd 1965 addition to an 1893 Romanesque hotel – I guess contextual sensitivity wasn’t much of a priority. Designed by Rasche, Schroeder, Spransy & Associates, it’s pretty damn ugly but I find the contrast we see here between it and the Northwestern National Insurance Company Building weirdly enjoyable.
#Postcard : University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Libraries, Thomas and Jean Ross Bliffert Postcard Collection