Cedarburg, WI Hotel Celebrates 40 Years with a Look Back

Celebrating 40 Years of History & Hospitality at Washington House Inn

Calling all history buffs, architecture aficionados, and romantics who dream of escaping to a bygone era! As we raise our glasses to toast the 40th anniversary of the Washington House Inn in 2024, we invite you to experience a tale as captivating as the town of Cedarburg itself. Nestled in the heart of this charming town, the Inn’s storied walls echo with history, inviting guests to experience a piece of American heritage that stands the test of time.

From Humble Beginnings to a Grand Hotel

Our journey begins in 1846, as Cedarburg emerged as a beacon for pioneers and artisans, among them a visionary German immigrant, Conrad Horneffer. Arriving in Milwaukee as a trained leather maker and former harness shop owner, Horneffer moved to Cedarburg in 1843, drawn by its burgeoning potential. Recognizing Cedarburg as a pivotal stop a day’s ride from Milwaukee, he envisioned a hotel that would offer rest and refuge to weary travelers. Thus, two years before Wisconsin attained statehood, the cornerstone of what would become a Cedarburg landmark was built with a simple wooden frame. Forty years later, in 1886, the structure was reborn in limestone brick, evolving into the iconic edifice that graces Washington Avenue today. For decades, it thrived as a hotel, its halls and rooms bearing witness to countless stories and memories.

Tides Turn For Cedarburg

However, the 1920s heralded a shift, as economic prosperity and technological advancements led to changing societal needs and priorities. Amid this backdrop of flourishing consumer culture and the rise of the automobile, the hotel transitioned into a mosaic of various businesses, with apartments and a meeting room occupying the upper floors. Though the building maintained its stately presence, its original purpose seemed lost.

A New Chapter of Restoration

Despite its transformation over the years into various businesses, the heart of the Washington House yearned to beat once more as a hotel. In 1984, entrepreneur and current owner James Pape embarked on a transformative journey. The interior was gutted to carve out 15 rooms initially, with more added over time, reaching a total of 29 in the main inn and an additional five in the historic Schroeder House. This endeavor blended its historic essence with modern luxury to eventually create the hotel guests enjoy today.

Wendy Porterfield, Innkeeper

Timeless Elegance Restored

Today, Washington House Inn stands as a proud guardian of Cedarburg’s history. Constructed of cream city brick, the inn boasts rooms with exposed stone and plaster walls, exposed beams, plank wood floors, four-poster beds, and locally acquired antiques. The decor, ranging from sophisticated casual country to formal Victorian style, adds a unique character to each room, named in honor of former Cedarburg luminaries.

An Immersive Americana Experience

Washington House Inn is located in the heart of Cedarburg’s Historic District and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. The Historic District boasts an enchanting downtown lined with art galleries, antique shops, and delectable restaurants. Imagine strolling down Washington Avenue, where horse-drawn carriages once were, enjoying charming cafes and boutiques. There is no shortage of places to explore!

An Invitation to Experience History

We invite you to step back in time with us at the Washington House Inn, where the charm of the past harmonizes with the comfort of the present. Whether you’re drawn by the allure of history, the elegance of the architecture, or the promise of a unique escape, your stay will be a journey through time. Book your visit today and become a part of the continuing story of the Washington House Inn, where every corner tells a story, and every stay is a memory in the making.

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Photo Credits: Cedarburg Chamber of Commerce