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Oscar Wilde In America

oscar wilde's 1882 lecture tour of america

Milwaukee, WI

The Decorative Arts | Grand Opera House | Sunday, March 5, 1882



Newspaper reports

The Milwaukee Sentinel, March 6, 1882, p.5


Chicago Tribune, March 6, 1882, p.2


The New York Times, March 7, 1882, p.5


historical note

(Nunnemacher) Grand Opera House
Water and Oneida (now Wells) Streets, Milwaukee, WI [1]

Built: 1870-71 (Henry C. Koch, Architect, for Jacob Nunnemacher)
Opened: August 17, 1871
Seating: 1,000 (originally)
Renamed: 1890 (Das Neue Deutsche Stadt-Theatre—The New German Stadt Theater)
Destroyed (fire): January 15, 1895 [2]
Replaced: 1895 (The Pabst Theatre, Otto Strack, Architect; building extant)



[1] Site address was 44 Wells St., now 144 E. Wells St.

[2] The University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries web site erroneously gives the date of the fire as 1893


Swiss-born distiller Jacob Nunnemacher (1819—1876)


Grand Opera House and City Hall (right), Milwaukee, WI

Source: Milwaukee Public Library

historical note

Plankinton House Hotel
West Water and Second (now Plankinton) Streets, Milwaukee, WI [1]

Built: 1867
Opened: 1868
Extended: 1876-1880
Last additions: 1882
Fire: 1883 survived
Demolished: 1915
Replaced:1916 Plankinton Arcade (Holabird & Roche), a two-story commercial building
Extended: 1924 to seven floors (Holabird & Roche) extant as part of the The Shops of Grand Avenue, and retaining the statue of John Plankinton in the center of the circular atrium

[1] Later address was 123 Grand Ave., now 161 W Wisconsin Ave.

source note [1]

As to accommodation

OnMilwaukee.com, October 17, 2004 | Wilde didn't impress Milwaukee much | by Bobby Tanzilo

"In fact, the Milwaukee Sentinel, in an interview with Wilde that was conducted the morning of his appearance (he had arrived at 11:30 p.m. the night before and checked into the Plankinton House hotel...) couldn't help but poke some fun."

Irish Milwaukee, Martin Hintz, 2003, p.104

"he stayed at the old Plankinton House..."

[1] While these are not primary sources in themselves, they are the corroborative reporting of a primary source, and there is no reason to doubt them. Both articles cite the Milwaukee Sentinel's interview with Wilde on March 5, 1882, that had been printed under the following headlines:

"Arrival in Milwaukee of the Distinguished Apostle of the Beautiful."

"How the Sunflower-and-Lily Young Man Looked and What He Had to Say."

"Long on Hair and Short on Breeches the Only Striking Peculiarities."


The Plankinton House Hotel extended, as it looked at the time of Wilde's stay in Milwaukee.


The original Plankinton House Hotel in Milwaukee.

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