History of the Port Hotel
The American House 1857-1912
The City of Port Washington (formerly Washington City of Washington County) has a long history of fine hotels. The Port Hotel finds its roots dating back to the very beginning of our city when Martin F. Thomas and his wife Nancy purchased the land tract for $40.00.
As soon as the City of Port Washington was founded, in 1835, a hotel and tavern were built and were named the “American House”. In its day, the American House entertained many a hungry man. It was a large frame building and contained 20 rooms with adjoining horse stables. One of its early operators was Sheriff Peter Malherbe and his wife Mary.
In 1891, John G. and Anna Thill, purchased the American House. It continued in business until it was torn down by John F. Thill, John and Anna’s oldest son, who built a new hotel with 40 rooms on the same site in 1902, called Thill’s Hotel. The date of construction corresponds with the dedication of the new Ozaukee County Court House within the same year.
Peter D. Mayer and his wife Katie took over in 1912 and renamed the hotel, the Mayer Hotel. The Mayer family operated the hotel for almost 50 years. The Mayer Hotel was considered modern (due to steam heat and electric lights), and offered first class accommodations for the traveler.
In 1960, John and Marcie Hornslein took over as proprietors, but retained the same hotel name. As recent as 1962, the Mayer Hotel had rooms for rent ranging from $3.00 to $7.00 for a single room or $10.00 for a double room. Rooms were also available for $20.00 per week. The Devine Family ran the Hotel until it closed in 1973.
The Port Hotel
In 1973, Lowell and Donald Levy, local attorneys, purchased the hotel, which began a new era for the building. In that year, Dave and Debbie Wickesberg opened The Port Hotel Restaurant and operated it until the spring of 1997. Although the hotel portion of the facility closed in the early 1980’s, the restaurant has remained a historic landmark.
In the summer of 2005, The Port Hotel returned to its 100-year-old roots of traditional innkeeping. Newly renovated, but graced with Old World charm, The Port Hotel Inn re-opened with ten luxuriously-appointed guest rooms. Today, The Port Hotel Restaurant and Inn remains a popular destination for boaters, tourists, and local residents. The restaurant has been named Ozaukee County’s Best Steak House and Best Special Occasion Restaurant. More recently, The Port Hotel received a “3 Star” rating from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Dennis Ghetto. The Port Hotel Restaurant and Inn remains a family run business. Together with our staff, we strive to provide our guests with memories that will last a lifetime. We like to think that John and Anna Thill would have liked it that way.