Historic Schuster Mansion Bed & Breakfast up for auction as innkeepers retire
MILWAUKEE (CBS58) -- A Victorian-era bed and breakfast inside a historic Milwaukee mansion is up for auction, and the highest bidder is set to get a turnkey business with decor, recipes, and vendors.
Laura Sue and Rick Mosier were married for just one year before they decided to open a bed and breakfast. Laura Sue, an entrepreneur at heart, took the Schuster Mansion back to the 1800s through her designs and decor.
"I want people to go, 'Oh, grandma had this. Oh, look at that, look at that, mom had that, great grandma had that thing,'" she said. "That's what I want them to feel. I want their past. I want their memories from their loved ones coming to life while they're here."
For 15 years, they have opened the doors of the over 9,000-square-foot home to anyone looking to relax with history and charm.
"In one month, we had [people from] 18 different countries visit here," Laura Sue said.
The historic mansion is nestled in the city's Concordia neighborhood, just a few miles from popular tourist destinations.
"Once they walk outside the house, they can go to the ballpark, they can go to the brewery, or downtown, to a play, to the state fair park. Pick one. Harley Davidson. Go in any direction, and you have something in the city of Milwaukee to see," Rick Mosier said.
The mansion, dubbed "The Wells Street Red Castle" due to its red brick and sandstone, has a long history. Built in 1891 by tobacco industrialist George Shuster, the mansion has had 10 owners, including the Moisers.
"We've always wondered if walls could talk, you know? There was a drug dealer that lived in apartment one. We were told there was a murder that happened in one of the apartments, but they died in the dumpster. These are the kind of stories that we've heard. If they could only talk," Laura Sue said.
"The walls have now absorbed our lives. So, now the new people are going to be able to start a new chapter, with the walls absorbing their lives into them and what they want to do to make this place theirs and reflect on who they are and what makes them special."
But now the couple is ready to close this chapter of their lives, bidding adieu to the mansion they have called home for all these years.
"We've only packed up two U-Haul pods, two. That's all we're storing. That's how fresh we're going to start," Laura Sue said. "This part of our life is done. It's finished. Now we're going to do a brand-new life."
The mansion, filled with decorations and Victorian-era charm, will be sold as is, with everything the next owner will need to take over the business.
"We have been called 'The Gem of Milwaukee.' We are the pearl that has been found. You have to find this hidden pearl, and when you find it, then everyone loves it here. I want them to know what we have done to make it that day," Laura Sue said.
"We're not taking anything. It's all staying. You get all the teapots, the crystal, the China, and the linings. All these cupboards that are throughout are filled with all kinds of stuff. Plus, you get the reputation, you get all of our vendors. And you get a brand-new car."
The next owner will also inherit the Moiser's reputation of service. Not just that, but the history lessons Laura Sue famously gives during her "Molly's Tea," a tea service that includes Mosier wearing handmade outfits she creates that replicate those of the 1800s.
"I tell stories and history and table etiquette. Yes, we talk about 'the pinky.' We talk about manners and how you should handle yourself while you are here. Many times people say to me, 'I have been to teas from all over the world, and this was my favorite.' I don't know whether to cry. I don't know whether to be proud. I'm just speechless. I'm awed. I'm just doing what comes naturally to me, what I love," Laura Sue said.
Since purchasing the mansion, the two have invested $1 million into renovations, including $200,00 for a Victorian-themed garden.
"You see many guests out there reading a book, having lunch, or talking with someone over a cup of coffee. People say our garden is an oasis in the middle of the city," Laura Sue said.
But now, they are ready to travel the country in their new RV and eventually move to Florida.
"You have to understand for 15 years, we've been cocooned here, taking care of our guests. And so, now, having the RV, we can spread our wings. We can finally see the country. That's why we call the RV 'the monarch,' because it's us traveling on our wings."
While they will miss their regular guests, they are ready to hand over the mansion, retire their innkeeper hats, and be Laura Sue and Rick.
"When you really reflect back on it, oh my goodness, this is all we know. This is all we've ever known. We're really looking forward to our new life together," Laura Sue said.
The mansion, with a starting bid of $2.2 million, is up for auction on the Beth Rose website until noon on Dec. 17.