Historic Properties – “Shawano has History”

The Murdock House


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A Brief History

The Murdock House
103 S. Main Street
Shawano, WI

The SW corner of Main and Green Bay Streets in Shawano was the site of two hotels, the Wescott House and the Murdock House from 1855 to 1948.

Hiram Wescott built the Wescott House in 1855 prior to the Civil War.  Most of this large and spacious inn was erected on West Green Bay Street with a wing of the building extending south on Main Street.  His was a brother of Charles D. Wescott, regarded as the first settler in Shawano. H. Wescott sold the property to D.H. Pulcifer who came to Shawano from Fond du Lac in 1864.  Pulcifer maintained the business as the Wescott House, owning it until about 1875, when it was sold it to Henry Murdock, who likewise retained the Wescott name.

In 1855 H. Murdock moved his Wescott House off the corner and remodeled it into two separate buildings. In 1886, he began construction of a new hotel on the same site and called it the Murdock House.  After the destructive Shawano fire of 1890, the Murdock was now the largest and newest hotel in the city. Murdock relinquished management of the hotel and sold it to Charles M. Upham, a pioneer businessman. Upham rented the Murdock to a number of operators, among them Christopher Hill who managed the hotel and also established a post office in the same building with himself as postmaster.

In 1912 Harry Sanderson acquired the lease rights and several years later purchased the hotel. He retired as active manager in 1936. Changes occurred in managership until Stan Tischer became manager in 1939 and remained so until the fire of April 18, 1948, which ended the reign of the Murdock House. He had remodeled the hotel by adding a cocktail lounge and secured Bud Haupt as manager of this department. Although bus lines and taxi service had been initiated earlier in Shawano, their growth at this time was attributed to Tischer’s occupance at the Murdock House.

Some of the businesses located on the SW corner of Main and Green Bay Streets in Shawano:

  • Wescott House
  • Murdock House
  • F. W. Woolworth
  • Spurgeons Store
  • Warren Nett Realty
  • The Stock Market


Shawano County Advocate – Obituary of W. H. Murdock
Sept 19 1916

Born: 4 Mar 1841 at Winchester NH
Died: 15 Sep 1916 at Shawano WI
Enlisted: 20 Oct 1861 as a Sgt in the 12 Mass LT at Boston, Mass
Mustered out: July 25 1865 at Galloup’s Island, Boston, Mass
Buried in Woodlawn, Shawano

W. H. Murdock was born in Winchester N. H., March 4, 1841 the same day William Henry Harrison became president of the United States. He lived in the New England states until a young man and enlisted in the Mass., regiment and served three years. He came to Shawano County, Wisconsin in 1865 and was married to Miss Sarah Craine of Belle Plaine on April 26, 1868. They made their home there a few years and came to Shawano forty-three years ago, and they made this their home most of the time since then.

Mr. Murdock was in various business enterprises, keeping the livery where Mr. Nachtwey’s barn now stands, for years. About twenty-six years ago he built the Murdock house which will stand as am monument to his enterprise. He conducted the hotel for a few years and then sold the same to the late Chas. Upham, who has owned the building since then, and a number of people have rented the hotel. He also lumbered several winters. During the years 1892-1893 he built the large summer resort known as the Phantom Lake Inn at Mukwongon. The deceased had been a member of the Masonic lodge of this city for many years, and was an active man during his early years and could do a good-days work even the last year. He was taken sick about three months ago, and was confined to his bed for nine weeks. He was a patient sufferer and never complained. He was well liked by all and had a great many friends throughout the county, gained by his long residence here.


William Henry Murdock

Mr. Murdock was born in Winchester, New Hampshire, March 4th 1841. On that same day, history shows William Henry Harrison, the head of the line of three famous Harrisons, became president of the United States. The coincidence is consistent with Mr. Murdock’s political belief for he has been a lifelong Republican. He grew up in New England and from there he went forth in defense of the Union in the dark days of ’61 to ’65. He was a good soldier, the records show, and the records are borne out of the testimony of his Comrades. He served three years. At the close of the war, he came to Shawano County and was married April 26th 1868 to Miss Sarah Crain, of Belle Plaine. Forty-three years ago, they came to Shawano and here they have since lived. Their house on Main Street is one of the landmarks of the city.

Mr. Murdock being unusually active, has engaged in various enterprises. For several years he kept a livery barn where the Nachtwey livery now stands. Later he kept a sales and exchange stable. Twenty-six years ago, he built the Murdock Hotel, a building at which at that time, was decidedly pretentious for a town of this size, and which even today is one of the best buildings in the city. He conducted this hotel for a few years. He was a lumberman for several years, and it is said that he devolved a keen insight into woodcraft. In 1892-93 he built the big summer resort known as the Phantom Lake Inn at Mukwonagon.