Hotel Grafton Apartments (Grafton, WI)

The following excerpt was presented by the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation at the 2013 Local History and Historic Preservation Conference in early October. This excerpt is the first in a series of eight stories we will publish to the WTHP blog over the next few weeks. Please check back often for more. You can find the whole series here.


Hotel Grafton was built in 1892 in response to the need for a hotel/rooming house on the busy commercial corridor between Milwaukee and Sheboygan. Built solidly on the bedrock lying 7’ below the surface, the Cream City brick building was originally named Mueller Hotel. The building continued to function as a hotel, boarding house, restaurant and/or tavern until 2003. However, its original appearance was altered dramatically in the mid-1950s with the removal of the decorative cupola with ‘witches hat’ roof, the stepped masonry parapet, and the decorative porch on the west elevation.


Non-original openings were made in the exterior walls on all elevations to accommodate mechanical equipment, original fenestration patterns were altered, and the brick was painted. By 2005, the building was considered a local eyesore.

In late 2009, the Village of Grafton Community Development Authority purchased the building and issued a Request for Proposals to explore adaptively re-purposing Hotel Grafton, located in the heart of Grafton’s revitalized Central Business District. Architects Paul Rushing and Jim Read were selected for the project. After eighteen months of discussion and design, the current adaptive re-use as an apartment building was defined and approved. The exterior restoration included the reconstruction of the prominent cupola. Construction began in spring of 2011 and the first tenants moved into the Hotel Grafton Apartments in April 2012.

Download the PDF of this story here