The Plankinton Estate
The land and mansions of the Plankinton Estate were crucial to the development of the current campus of Marquette University. Marquette bought the three mansions belonging to John Plankinton, a leader of the meatpacking industry in Milwaukee, in 1918. The two mansions previously used by John and his son William were used for various academic purposes for several decades, while the Knights of Columbus used the mansion that was the former of John’s daughter, Elizabeth Plankinton, as a clubhouse. Elizabeth Plankinton's mansion was the last remaining piece of the Plankinton Estate, but it was demolished in October 1980 to create more space for the university. Many organizations and people fought to keep the mansion as a monument to the history of Grand Avenue, but in the end it proved to be fruitless. Today the Alumni Memorial Union stands where the mansion once stood.
Backstory and Context
The Elizabeth Plankinton mansion was the last to be demolished. Seeing it as valuable part of Milwaukee's history, organizations like the Wisconsin Heritages, Inc., students and alumni of Marquette, concerned citizens Milwaukee began to campaign for the preservation of the venerable mansion. When the lease for the mansion was up in 1978, they successfully delayed the demolition while they tried to find donors to save the mansion. However, as the October, 1980, deadline loomed and preservationists made a last-ditch effort, Marquette began to demolish the mansion several days before it was scheduled to be torn down. This was seen by some as a dirty way to keep the public and city council from finding a last ditch effort to save the mansion even though it was a forgone conclusion at that time. A decade later, the Alumni Memorial Union was erected in its place.