John Plankinton statue

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John Plankinton bronze statue at Milwaukee Grand Plankinton Arcade

The John Plankinton statue is a six-foot lifelike representation of the businessman and industrialist. It took the sculptor six months to make and was initially placed in the Plankinton House Hotel in downtown Milwaukee in 1892. It is presently located in the Grand's Plankinton Arcade shopping plaza, a redevelopment project at the same location where the hotel once stood. It was completely restored in 2012.


The background history of the bronze statue starts shortly after John Plankinton's death in March 1891. The idea for a statue or bust was proposed seven months later in October 1891.[1] Richard Henry Park, known as the Florentine sculptor, had already done statues for the Plankinton family so was commissioned by his son William to make the bronze statue in 1892.[2][3] Park made the six-foot bronze statue with a realistic lifelike representation of John Plankinton standing at ease.[4] It was initially placed in the rotunda of the Plankinton House Hotel in downtown Milwaukee on March 28, 1892.[4][5][6][7]

Park, who spent six months in Chicago working on the John Plankinton bronze statue,[3] was perhaps a surprising choice as Park had betrayed Elizabeth Plankinton (William's sister) and married another woman in 1887, leaving her disappointed and distraught.[8][9] Described as a good looking statue, it was unveiled in a rotunda in the Plankinton House Hotel in June 1892. It remained there until a redevelopment into a shopping district in 1916 took place of the property and the hotel taken down. It was called originally the Plankinton Arcade and had billiard and bowling in the basement. The property was again remodeled in the 1970s and then called the John Plankinton Mall. The latest redesign of the property in 1980–1982 incorporated a circular atrium specifically for the statue. The property was again renamed and then called Shops of Grand Avenue or sometimes shortened to The Grand shopping plaza. Grand Avenue was the 19th century prestigious street name where the property is located and is now Wisconsin Avenue. In 2012 restoration work was done to the bronze statue that took several months. Afterwards it was returned to its base made by the American Bronze Company. This base at the foot of the bronze statue is titled John Plankinton 1820 – 1891. The statue on its 15-foot pedestal is now a permanent part of the shopping plaza and seen by hundreds daily.[3][7][10]

Bronze statue views[edit]

Renovation work[edit]


  1. ^ Richardson, Genesee (October 10, 1891). "John Plankinton". The Weekly Wisconsin. Milwaukee, Wisconsin – via open access publication – free to read. 
  2. ^ "Statue of John Plankinton". The Belleville Telescope. Belleville, Kansas. April 29, 1892 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  3. ^ a b c Stingl, Jim (2016). "Statue's history put to rights by sleuthing". Milwaukee News online. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved January 30, 2017. 
  4. ^ a b "Statue of the late John Plankinton". Chicago Daily Tribune. Chicago, Illinois. March 21, 1892 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  5. ^ "Statue Placed". Las Vegas Daily Optic. East Las Vegas, New Mexico. March 28, 1892 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  6. ^ "Statue of John Plankinton". Lincoln Daily News. Lincoln, Nebraska. April 13, 1892 – via open access publication – free to read. 
  7. ^ a b "History-A Timeline / The history of The Shops of Grand Avenue is as rich as the City it serves". The Shops of Grand Avenue. Mid-America. 2017. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Plankinton Residence". Raynor Memorial Libraries. Marquette University. 2017. Retrieved January 10, 2017. 
  9. ^ "Elizabeth Plankinton House, Milwaukee Wisconsin". Historic Structures. 2009. Retrieved February 5, 2017. She was to have been married to Richard Hamilton Park, the British sculptor of the above, but was deserted in favor of a dancer from Minneapolis. 
  10. ^ "Remember When...the Plankinton Arcade was remodeled?". Remember When. Milwaukee Public Library. 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2017. 

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