We transformed a 100-year-old warehouse into a modern luxury boutique hotel: the industry’s first upscale hotel geared toward business travelers and motorcycle enthusiasts alike.
I was lucky to work on almost every element of this beautiful hotel. From wallpaper and headboards, to gift cards and social posts.
And we've gotten a lot of praise along the way:
AAA Four Diamond Award
Best Hotels in the US - US News & World Report - 2012
Ranked #10 in the nation on Conde Nast Traveler's Gold List - 2011
Ranked #11 of all U.S. hotels on TripAdvisor.com - 2011
Tablet10 of the Americas: Top 10 New Hotels - 2010
Conde Nast Traveler Magazine "Hot List" - 2009
National Geographic Traveler Magazine "Stay List" - 2009
The hotel's name reflects the duality of it's unique location. Native Americans referred to the train as the “iron horse” as it sped through the prairies. Today, the hotel remains nestled along an historic yet active railroad.
Today’s culture refers to the motorcycle as the modern iron horse, a name befitting the location near the Harley-Davidson Museum and a nod to the hotel's rider amenities.
After the name was chosen, it was discovered that the building’s century-old carved capitals serendipitously resembled an “I” in the shape of a horse head and an “H.” The icon was born and now subtly appears throughout the hotel.
The lobby features original Cream City brick and metal fire doors. Its exposed posts and beams are 300-year-old heart pine timbers, making the Iron Horse the last timber-frame construction in Milwaukee.
Prominent in the lobby is Charles Dwyer’s “Americana Flag.” Thirty-two and one-half pairs of Wrangler jeans (size 29” W 34”L) serve as the canvas for the iconic flag.
Guest rooms feature murals by Milwaukee artist Charles Dwyer. As a challenge to the stereotype of Milwaukee women, his subjects are local acquaintances and inexperienced models.
Custom hooks in each room bear the Iron Horse icon and hold up to 80 pounds. They were designed for hanging heavy riding leathers.
Students at the neighboring Bradley Tech High School transformed beams that had to be removed for remodeling into boot benches.
Sculptures above guest room beds are poured freeform works by local artist Amber Van Galder. Using 40 pounds of recycled aluminum to create each piece, they were designed to resemble metal spills common on foundry floors.
Smyth is a full-service restaurant. The name pays homage to a craft decimated by the Industrial Era and plays on the old spelling of the word “blacksmythe.”
Branded is a classic Milwaukee bar serving local beers and fare. The restored Niagara billiard table was made in Milwaukee in 1910.
Originally a stained glass window, the large copper mirror behind the bar came from a church in Pennsylvania.