For ease in getting to sites around Milwaukee, the Ambassador offers a complimentary shuttle service. The hotel also has perks such as free Wi-Fi, so you never have to worry about being disconnected. The comfortable hotel is not all that it seems. Below the veneer is a history of murder, with Jeffrey Dahmer committing one of his heinous crimes in the hotel. While you enjoy the comfort of the hotel, take care that you may encounter things that cannot be explained.
History of the Ambassador Hotel
The Ambassador Hotel was built in 1928 as an affluent fixture on the Milwaukee scene, although much of the information about the hotel’s history has come down from word of mouth and pictures from people’s private collections. As a social stop in the city, famous people commonly flocked to its rooms and lobby during its heyday.
In the years after the hotel was constructed, entertainers such as The Beatles and Walter Busterkeys, who you might better know of as Liberace, stayed in the hotel. Busterkeys routinely performed in the lobby before moving on to international fame as Liberace. After a night of entertaining guests and fans in the lobby or downtown, some of these iconic figures would spend the night at the Ambassador.
Other famous people stopped at the Ambassador during its prime. In 1960, then presidential hopeful John F. Kennedy spoke at the Ambassador to a convention of United Chemical Workers. Over time, though, the areas around the hotel gradually lost its luster.
In the 1980s, the Ambassador and the surrounding neighborhoods fell into decline. Rather than maintain the hotel’s opulence, it became a low rate residence hotel. Time was just as tough on the neighborhoods around the hotel, as many buildings faced disrepair.
In the last two decades, the hotel has made a resurgence. Owner Rick Wiegand, a real estate developer, and local Marquette University graduate, and staff have worked hard to restore the Ambassador back to its former shine. While many people considered it folly to try and revive the classic hotel, Wiegand didn’t give up on it, investing millions of dollars to turn the hotel around.
Many of the Art Deco features are original to the hotel. The sconces and crown modeling found in the lobby date back to the 1920s, while even the lounge’s happy hour harkens back to the prices of pre-Prohibition, with drinks such as a $0.25 Gin Fizz. One of the most impressive features of the renovated hotel is its bronze elevator doors, unique because the open out rather than slide open.
Unfortunately, no matter the glitz, glamour, and comfort that the hotel offers, you will find that the hotel can’t get past its most famous association, that with Jeffrey Dahmer. The hotel was the scene of Dahmer’s first Milwaukee murder, who he killed in his room before spiriting the body out of his room in a suitcase.
Ghost of the Ambassador Hotel
If there’s any ghost in the Ambassador, it’s probably that of Steven Tuomi, who was Jeffrey Dahmer’s first victim in Milwaukee. Dahmer met Tuomi in September of 1987. At the time, Dahmer was out on probation after molestation charges of a minor. The two men spent the night together drinking heavily and visiting multiple bars. Later that night, they ended up in a room together in the Ambassador, room 507, which is a room some Dahmer historians have requested to stay in.
Dahmer killed Toumi while he was in a drunken stupor. Upon waking up to find Tuomi dead, Dahmer put the body in a suitcase and took it to his grandmother’s house where he was living. In the basement, he acted out necrophiliac desires and then dismembered the body.
Supposedly when Dahmer awoke to find Tuomi dead, the body was in an awkward position hanging off the side of the bed. Some visitors have reported instances of waking up to discover their partner in a similarly awkward position.
Visitors to room 507 have reported a variety of experiences, such as a heaviness to the room that they can’t quite explain. Some people get woken up in the middle of the night by odd circumstances.
Other Events at the Ambassador
People in other rooms across the hotel have mentioned strange occurrences. Before housekeeping has had time to visit some of the rooms, beds get made or unmade. Items have been known to disappear, only to reappear later and sometimes in another place.
In addition, some stories are told about messages being written across the mirrors. A clever hoax or some truly haunting going on? Unfortunately, no one knows who these mysterious events can be attributed to, although the hotel is old enough that any number of mysteries could have occurred within its walls.