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tv   [untitled]    May 20, 2012 7:00pm-7:30pm EDT

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space, and i wonder what role did the community play, and i know it's a similar question to the last one, but what role did the community play, and were there tensions because the amount of public space that the university held in the neighborhood, in the newark neighborhood? >> absolutely. that's a great question, and i think we see these things with colombia university and pretty much with urban space. in order to create that space they are knocking down a lot of public housing and homes of people who have been in the community for a long time, because otherwise you can't create these sprawling grounds of buildings and residence halls. i -- i -- this is kind of something that's remarkable that i'm sorry i didn't have a chance to talk about in my short presentation. the students were really being meantored by the community activists in newark at the time, and these are the same activists that were boycotting umdnj at the time umdnj had a proposal
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for 125 acres, and we were talking about the bull doegz of people's homes through urban renewal. these are the same activists that are going out and boycotting highway construction, and what we know about highway construction in urban space is that it would typically be created through the downtown, kind of the heart of the city, and these students were being meantored by a lot of the black panthers, community organizers, community activists, and really these people in the community gave these students the tools that they needed to press upon the demands upon what was called the white empire. somebody mentioned vietnam earlier. when i interviewed a lot of these activists, they talked about feeling that, you know, that this was urban colonial ump, and they really identified with the third world people's movement. >> i want to thank all of our presenters and all of you in the audience for joining us today and for this wonderful discussion. thank you so much.
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each week "american artifacts" visits museums and historic places. next, join us for a visit to milwaukee for a look inside the restored gilded h. mansion of german-american beer baron, captain frederick pabst. >> i'm john east berks and i'm senior historian for the pabst mansion here in milwaukee. today we're standing in the captain frederick pabst mansion that was built in milwaukee between 1890 and 1892, and i always like to start a tour of this house with a little context of why it's here, because if you're visiting this city, you'll see that the house is sitting at 20th and wisconsin avenue which is kind of in the middle of a very heavily commercial district. it doesn't make any sense why the pabst mansion should be here today. but when the pabst family chose
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this site in the late 1880s, this was in the middle of milwaukee's most prestigious residential district. about 50 or 60 mansions were lining the avenue from just outside of downtown, out to the countryside at 35th. so when they built this house, there was already a home standing on the site, and so they tore that down in june of 1890 and began construction of this house. now, the original cost estimate was $75,000, which was a tremendous amount of money, considering that people were only earning about $400 a year. but when the house was completed just two years later, as we go through the house, keep in mind that all of this was put together in two years, the costs had exceeded $254,000, which was unfathomable to most people, and as your earning power would
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have been about $30,000 over your entire lifetime. another thing to be mindful of as you go through this house is that the architects, george bowman ferry and alfred claas, local milwaukee architects, merged their individual firms over the construction of this house, and while you look at the pabst mansion and its extraordinary attention to detail, it's hard to even imagine that over 50 other major churches, residences and commercial buildings were being built by this firm during the same period. so the pabst family took the keys to the house in july of 1892, and, unfortunately, they had a relatively short period of time in their house. captain pabst died on january 1st, 1904, and his wife two years later in 1906. already by that time milwaukee's grand avenue, wisconsin avenue was known at that point, was already in decline. people can see that the city was pushing out in this direction. and so real estate values began to rapidly decline, and so this house sat on the real estate market for three years before a
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willing buyer could finally be found in 1908. the archdiocese of milwaukee purchased the house, and that action in 1908 actually saved the mansion because for the next 67 years the pabst mansion remained as the primary residence of five different archbishops, so from 1908 to 1975 this was and continued to be a home, and that's really what saved the house, because as all of its neighbors were converted into apartment buildings and commercial buildings, and eventually they were torn down, the pabst mansion became one of the few standing reminders of milwaukee's grand avenue. in 1975 the archdiocese wanted to sell the house so very naturally the gentleman who owned the hotel next door to the mansion wanted to purchase the site and did actually effect a purchase of it in order to tear it down for a parking lot.
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not uncommon in the mid-20th century. however, the house was still in such an excellent state of preservation that a preservation group came together to form a non-profit group in order to try to save the pabst mansion. so after a three-year battle to try to save the home from demolition, the group was eventually able to purchase the house, and that was not without its own difficulties. because nobody wanted to finance a fledgling house museum in 1978. so 23 savings and loans here in milwaukee came together and wrote 23 individual loans for the house, and so with those 23 loans for $10,000 apiece, and a state's grant for the purchase of the house, we open the pabst mansion for tourism may of 1978. now, over the last intervening 23 hours, we've been going through the pabst room by room, restoring it back to its period of significance between 1892 and 1906.
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now, over the last intervening 23 hours, we've been going through the pabst room by room, restoring it back to its period of significance between 1892 and 1906. this room that we're standing in right now was mrs. pabst's parlor, and this was really the most formal room in the house and probably the least used room in the house. what's interesting about the pabst mansion to me is that this is truly an expression of the american gilded age in that an american family is really kind of taking all of the best ideals from europe over a period of about 300 years and compacting them under one roof, and so you have each of these rooms expressing an individual architectural style. this room designed in the french roca coast style very popular in the 18th century finds itself in
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the 19th century milwaukee. now, we're very fortunate that most of the furnishings and the panelling and everything in this house were done here in milwaukee by the matthews brothers. and so this house, while it could have been all of imported materials, actually, again, is an expression of what was capable in milwaukee in the 1890s. we're fortunate that when the pabst family sold the house to the archdiocese in 1908, they sold the house with the majority of the original furnishings on the first floor. so those items have been purchased again from the archdiocese and once again returned to their original rooms. using period photographs, and we're very fortunate that the pabst family had a commercial photographer come into the house in 1897, he shot two or three plates of several of the principal rooms in the house, and so we have excellent idea of what was in the house originally, and so we use those photographs today, not only in our restoration work, but also with my work with the pabst
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family to help bring original items back to the house. a great deal of the artwork in the collection actually came from a competitive brewer which i think is very interesting. it came from the blatz family, so the collection, while not original to the mansion, is actually very similar to the german genre paintings that were collected by the pabst family so many of the same artists are back on the walls of the pabst mansion. plus, we've been augmenting the collection with original works as they either come up for sale or have been donated back to us from the pabst family. when we executed the restoration of this room in the early 1990s, we returned all of the woodwork back to its original enamelled finish with gold leaf. the silk wall coverings, which you'll see behind me, were
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actually re-milled for us in lyon, france, based on the original pattern that's evident in the photographs. well, as we enter the front hall, this was really a place where your guests would have been wowed by the entrance into the house, and this room was meant to make the biggest statement. this room, which was designed in the german renaissance style of the 17th century, was executed in a way that exhibits the finest works of art in the collection and really give a sense of a baronial elegance with this excellent elk antler chandelier that is in the front hall. this is a bust of captain frederick pabst, and frederick pabst actually was born in germany in 1836 and had emigrated with his parents when he was 12 in 1848. they came to milwaukee, but milwaukee was such a small town at that point that they really
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felt that their chances were better for success in chicago, and so they went down to chicago, and that's where captain pabst's mother died in the cholera epidemic of 1849. so frederick, when he was a teenager, was interested in a maritime career, and so he joined the great lakes steamship company as a cabin boy and then worked his way up to captain, and so that's what we have the title of captain. and it was while he was serving on a ship on lake michigan in the 1860s that he actually met his future father-in-law who was phillip best of the best brewing company. phillip best had an eldest daughter maria, and so maria and frederick pabst courted for two years and then were married in 1862. now, frederick pabst enjoyed his career on the great lakes, and so he remained a captain for another two years until he
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finally retired and bought an equal half interest in his father-in-law's brewing company for $21,000. again, a large sum of money, especially when one considers we were in the middle of the civil war. so at that point he starts his career as a beer baron, but it was at a very small brewing company because phillip best brewing company was only making about 3,000 barrels of beer a year. he took that company from this very modest start to a brewing company that was considered the world's largest lager beer brewing company in the world by 1890. brewing in excess of 1 million barrels a year. he always retained the title of captain as kind of a friendly moniker of his earlier days, and i think people in milwaukee really enjoyed continuing to call him captain pabst, because no longer may he have been a captain of a great lakes steamer, but he was definitely a captain of industry in milwaukee
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and of milwaukee's society. this bust in particular was done by a florentine sculptor who was a sculptor who arrived in milwaukee in the early 1890s and found favor in milwaukee society, and he would model his subjects in clay, send the form back to his studio in florence, italy, and then the following summer return with several crates of white marble statues of milwaukee society members. and so here we have captain pabst. he had found a home in a vermont garden of a pabst descendant for about 20 or 30 years, but now he is back inside in our front hall, and we're happy to have him back. at the far end of the hall we have what is known as the musician's nook, and two to three musicians during an evening dinner party could gather in this space and play
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and entertain the pabst family. situated in the nook is one of captain pabst's prized possessions. it's a ceremonial chair featuring the crest of the ruling family of prussia in hand-tooled leather, and this has always been situated in the front hall of the house. behind it is an extraordinary clock that actually belonged to amil blatz, a competitive beer baron, when donated a tremendous amount of artwork to the house and that is black forest clock dating to the 1890s. this is the music room, and this is a far less formal room than the rest of the rooms that we've seen so far, and this is really where the pabst family would have entertained themselves but also their close circle of friends. what's interesting about the pabst mansion is that while it's a 20,000 square foot house, it's a very intimate house so this room that has approximately
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approximately 15 chairs in it is actually one of the largest seating areas in the house. they were in their 50s when they built the home, and so this house was never meant to have huge amount of guests and entertaining, and while they had several large parties, most of them were done with large marquees on the front lawn rather than having a formal ballroom per se in the house. the two stools at the grand piano are original to the room and were used for doing duets at the piano, as is all the original upholstered furniture in the room original and custom built to match the style of this room which is 18th style venetian renaissance revival. this large painting here was recently reacquired by us at sotheby's a number of years ago, and this is one of the original paintings owned by captain pabst
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and had been exhibited actually in australia in the 1890s, which i've always found very interesting. eventually it made its way to milwaukee at an art exhibition in 1898 when captain pabst purchased it, and so we're very excited to actually have one of his favorite ship paintings over the piano. this portrait of captain pabst is another original item to our collection. it's a very fine portrait done by franz von lenbach of captain pabst. a very fungy story about this painting. captain pabst was very excited to engage lenbach to do the portrait as captain pabst was very interested in the chancellor of bismarck and as lenbach had done a number of portraits of bismarck, captain
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pabst wanted his portrait done by him as well. he pressed lenbach into doing this painting, and as lore has it, which has been substantiated, that lenbach was on his way to summer holiday and didn't really want to do this portrait for lenbach and pabst kind of mixed it up a little bit, and so when captain pabst took possession of the painting, and it was uncrated here in milwaukee, captain pabst was somewhat disappointed that it was such a severe portrait of him, and what a lot of people didn't know was that captain pabst had pock-marked skin on his left cheek which lenbach had
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incorporated into the painting. well, captain pabst had the painting dispatched to be a artist in milwaukee and had it overpainted and nobody was the wiser until 1990 when the pabst family sent the painting out for conservation in boston and they realized that there had been overpainting and they had it taken off, revealing the way len before bach would have wanted to see captain pabst but not necessarily the way captain pabst would have wanted him to be remembered. now, this room was the scene of the pabst youngest daughter emma's wedding in 1897. this was the room that they always celebrated the christmas holidays, and the christmas tree was kept in the southern bay in this room, and then both captain and mrs. pabst's funerals took place in this room so for whatever reason, the music room was kind of the central point in the mansion. the wall covering in this room is very much a product of the victorian period, and it was a product called lincrusta, still available today, made by the same man who made linoleum for the floors, and you can see this kind of hard textured surface which was to simulate hand-tooled leather but actually
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was a material much more resilient that could be easily cleaned. as i always like to point out on my tours, that we no longer burn tremendous amounts of coal or have gas lights in our homes and so we have to think about the materials that they used, glass on the front of book cases, materials that could be easily scrubbed down and cleaned because that grit and that residue would build up on every surface in the house, and so it's kind of interesting to kind of put us back in that period when we would have had coal fires going in all these fireplaces. however, the pabst mansion was a modern home of its time, and the house did have central forced air heating in it as well. there were two boilers located behind the mansion underneath a glass conservatory, and so that hot water was brought into the house into a central room in the
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basement, and it was regulated with 16 thermostats in different rooms in the house so you actually got zoned heating, as much as you could in the 1890s. moving from the music room into the dining room, you'll see this beautiful wonderful bright room which was always meant to be very sunny in the morning because it faces east and really brings out all the richness of all the gold detailing and this wonderful birch woodwork, which i've always thought was somewhat peculiar wood to use in such a formal wood, but the caramel color of the wood harmonizes well with all of the gold leaf and details as well. this room, designed in the french roca coast style, is really full of magnificence and all the cabinets made here in milwaukee, and i can never stress enough the level of craftsmanship and the
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woodworking detail created here in milwaukee. the table and the chairs are all original to the house, and when the pabst family would have been here with just themselves and their granddaughter, who were the most constant residents in the house, i should say, the table would have been compacted down to seats, just four, but on more formal occasions, the table would be extended with quite a number of leaves to seat 22, and so when we have done that, you're either in the hearth or in the hall. it really takes up the entire length of the room, and one of the things i've always found most interesting about this is that this is the largest seating area in the house, and so i think that says quite a bit about captain and mrs. pabst and the way that they chose to entertain. the wall covering in here is something slightly different than what we've seen throughout the house.
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and this was the material that was made in england in the 1890s and was a product called time castle tapestry, and this material is actually comprised of sheets of linen that are -- have a paper backing placed on them, run through a press, dipped in linseed oil, dried and then gilded, and then the material would come without all the flowers painted, be installed, and then it would be hand painted to the way the family or the client would want them. now, the house went through one major redecoration in 1960, and so the last archbishop that was here decided to modernize the house, and i don't blame him, because by 1960 this house would have been a very dark and dreary victorian house, kind of exactly what you would imagine it would be in the 1960s. for a house that had been decorated in about 70 years, and so a lot of walls and a lot of
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ceilings were painted white, wall-to-wall white carpeting was added and actually even danish modern furniture was put in the front hall of the house but a house such as this would rebel against all of that, so fortunately panelling and woodwork in the house was hardly painted at all, and what you're seeing right now in the dining room is all the original orange shellack finish that would have been put on the woodwork in the 1890s, but things such as the walling coverings werehand-painted back to their original appearances when we removed the mirrors over the fireplace in 1985. we found huge sections of the original material behind that, and so we used that as our model and our guide to have every
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rose, peony and actual yip hand-painted back to its original appearance. the ceiling was recreated here in milwaukee by conrad schmitz studio, and, again, using original photographs and color analysis they were able to recreate this renaissance-styled ceiling. the light fixtures is one of the remaining major light fixtures in the house, and it indicates that the house was wired for electricity when the house was built but also used gas fixtures as well. at the top we have electric lights. the inner ring ever lights ao f electric. the outer rings of light are gas. of course, can you see the key for adjusting the flame, but as added protection, the pabst had a font for kerosene put under the green dome so no matter what light was going to be had at the dining room table. one of the interesting bits that i've run across a bit in the milwaukee paper from the 1890s talk about the pabst having a party here at the mansion in
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1897, and they needed extra electricity to run several strings of japanese lanterns around the exterior of the house. so, there was a street car line that ran behind the mansion, and they spliced into that wiring and then ran wires up to the mansion to light their lanterns. i always think of this unregulated electricity that was running around, you know, and the person that they would get to actually do that. this little font was actually a wire cooler, and here we have bacchus pouring wine to his cohorts, and so this container could be filled with ice and then filled with several bottles of german wine. one of the things that i always like to point out is that captain pabst was much more of a wine drinker than a beer drinker, and when his estate was
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probated in 1904, the inventory showed that there were over 3,800 bottles of german wine stored in the cellars downstairs. this is one of my favorite paintings in our collection, and the pabst family had purchased this work in europe in 1894, and it had originally hung on this space in the dining room and it had passed through three generations of the pabst family until the then current owner decided to donate it back to the mansion. so this has been a very happy coincidence that we've been able to repeat many times throughout the mansion of items that left the house in 1907 when the house was being closed up and then have returned to us in the modern period, returning back to
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the original walls. i think it -- it has such a great feeling of authenticity that is added to the mansion. the overpaintings would have been painted by a group of artists here in milwaukee. there was a very active arts scene in milwaukee in the 1880s, really incredible when you think about it, but there was a group of what they would have called the panorama painters, and they would paint these large cycloramas and the battle of atlanta is one of the most famous ones that's been revived and restored. this group of artists led by the pabst's son-in-law who is acting as the interior decorator for the house or designer, would have been employed to paint these over-door paintings. they are quite extraordinary and
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quite good, but by the 1960s they would have appeared very dark and overvarnished so they were repainted white during the redecoration. now, because of the amount of varnish that were on them originally and also the level of soot that had built up on the surface, it actually provided a barrier, and so when the paintings were conserved in the mid-1980s, the conservator was actually able to lift the white paint off of the surface so these are the original 1892 paintings that are visible today. that's quite extraordinary that they have survived. well, as we approach the second floor of the house, as you can imagine these were the private quarters for the pabst family, and just into this room this was the regency room, and this was the bedroom of their youngest
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daughter emma, and actually our most recent restoration effort. i'm very excited about this particular room because it really -- it brings together all of the opulence that would have been exhibited in the bedrooms of the pabst mansion when the house was completed. we're very fortunate that the pabst mansion has a visitorship of over 40,000 people a year, and so between our visitors and memberships and rentals and foundation requests, that presents a budget of about $375,000 a year, of which supports all of our activities as far as the operation of the house and then the other portion of my job, other than being the historian, i'm also the director of development, and so we're constantly going out to organizations in milwaukee and also across the country to help support the pabst mansion as well. >> this is the first of a two-part look at the pabst mansion. you can view "american history"


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