Mariner Tower Update

Several weeks ago I posted a short piece about the use of Morton Gneiss in Art Deco buildings. One building I mentioned was the Mariner Tower in Milwaukee. I have found out a bit more information about that building plus I have obtained a few fine photos of the stone. The building’s original name reflects the name of its builder, John W. Mariner, a Milwaukee businessman. The scion (isn’t that a great word?) of a pioneer family, Mariner graduated from Harvard in 1891, where he was the member of the Hasty Pudding club. (I only mention this to be able to write that funny two word club name.)

Mariner’s father bought the original building property site for $100. Work began in 1929 with the building opening in 1930, not long after John Mariner died of a heart attack in June. The Morton Gneiss only clads the base. Long called the Mariner Tower, it has been known as the Wisconsin Tower for many years.

In 2004, the building was sold and converted into 73 condominium units. As has happened in many real estate markets, condo sales have not gone as well as some would hope. Perhaps if the owners had better emphasized a curious rumor about their building, more units would have sold. According to an 2006 article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, by Jim Stingl, the sales pitch for the new condominiums in the 22-story building stated: “Ask to see the infamous dirigible landing on the rooftop tower.” After visiting the 40-foot steel structure atop the tower, Stingl tried to track down any truth to the story and found none. Apparently the story is another urban legend. Any additional information on the building or on its dirigible landing zone would be appreciated.

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