21.4.17

CORPORATIONS ERASE INSTITUTIONAL MEMORY.

Milwaukee railroad photographers, whether at The Milwaukee Road's Everett Street Depot or at the North Shore Line's Milwaukee Terminal, often got the Schroeder Hotel (and you could always identify the out-of towners by the way they pronounced it) in the background.


John Karlson photograph, fall 1952.

But local ownership of a hotel (it's the brick tower peeking over the Public Service Building just left of center) was one more casualty of a more mobile economy, in which the casual traveller required a signal of dependability, even if that dependability meant the blandness of a McDonald's or Holiday Inn.  And Sheraton established a foothold in Milwaukee (yeah, we had trouble with that whole bush league thing, and getting national hotel chains downtown and jets at the airport mattered) by purchasing Schroeder.  That prompted local humor columnist Gerald Kloss to pen a parody of "Old Ironsides" suggesting that Sheraton not mess with the hotel's name.

But if the chain cannot, in grace,
With "Schroeder" quite agree,
Then make it "Scheraton," and place
'Twixt "S" and "h" a "c"!

I don't know if Sheraton read the advice, but they were willing to leave well enough alone.  Subsequently, though, the hotel passed to the same entrepreneur who sold the Big Boy hamburgers (in southeastern Wisconsin, thus, it was Marc's Big Boy) and what followed was not amusing.
Although the Sheraton-Schroeder never did end up dropping its last name, change eventually came. In 1972, Marcus Corp. Chairman Ben Marcus headed up a group of Milwaukee investors to buy the hotel, renaming it the Marc Plaza. In 1995, Marcus Corp. affiliated with the Hilton chain, and changed the hotel's name again, to Hilton Milwaukee City Center.
But I recall there being a Roy Rogers (!) eatery occupying space along Wisconsin Avenue.

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