5 questions for the new Pfister Narrator, Anna Lardinois
The Pfister Hotel chose Anna Lardinois as its 11th Narrator. Lardinois will hold this position for one year, until May 2019, and during her tenure will write two entries a week for The Pfister's blog, as well as coordinate other events – including walking tours – for hotel guests and community members.
Lardinois is a former English teacher who left the classroom to pursue a career as a full-time historical tour guide via her successful business, Walking Milwaukee.
OnMilwaukee recently met with Lardinois in the Pfister Lobby Bar to chat about the year ahead.
OnMilwaukee: Why did you want to become The Pfister Narrator?
Anna Lardinois: Being The Pfister Narrator seems like both the natural progression in my unusual career path, and the fulfillment of a childhood dream. Since leaving my career in education, I have steadily worked at collecting and sharing uniquely Milwaukee stories in a variety of different mediums. It has long been my desire to share stories about one of the city's most storied landmarks, and this is a wonderful opportunity to access the archives and get a behind-the-scenes view of this piece of our history.
From the moment I learned of the position, I aspired to the role. There are few things I love more than stories. The opportunity to do my favorite thing in the world, tell stories, in a place that my childhood self would certainly think looked like a fairy palace is, quite honestly, one of the best things I could imagine.
How is it a "good fit" for you, personally and professionally?
My love of history and my passion for storytelling will serve me well in this role. My experience as the creator of Walking Milwaukee and as professional tour guide has created in me an enthusiastic ambassador of Milwaukee, and I approach the role with zeal. It brings me joy to connect with visitors and show them the hidden treasures of our city; I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share the magic of Milwaukee with Pfister guests.
Personally, I feel a deep affection for The Pfister Hotel, as I have spent many happy moments in the hotel, celebrating holidays, toasting happy couples and making my own new memories. Some of the best things that have happened in my life have happened at The Pfister Hotel and I am eager to see what this year holds for me.
What does the role of Narrator entail?
This is a brand new adventure for me, so I am not sure what the role will entail for the 11th year of the residency. My key responsibility is to record the events and people who are part of The Pfister Hotel experience during this year. I am very excited to see all of the different forms preserving these notable event in words and images will take.
What will you bring to the role that is new or different?
Every narrator has brought a new framework through which to view the role. I think my love of history and historical research will work well during this 125 anniversary year. Additionally, I am delighted for the opportunity to pair my passion for downtown Milwaukee and walking into some great activities for hotel guests that will give them opportunities to connect with our city in a way that will help visitors understand why we love Milwaukee so much
If you could meet and interview anyone in The Pfister lobby, living or dead, who would it be?
Historically, one of the things that really intrigues me about The Pfister is that each of the owners of the hotel has a Horatio Alger-esque story. Guido Pfister, the man who dreamed of the creating the hotel that his son completed, began his life in Milwaukee as a 29-year-old German immigrant with leathering tanning skills and went on to build a fortune. The next owner, Ray Smith, began his career as a bellboy in the hotel and retired as The Pfister's owner. Finally, Ben Marcus, a man who arrives to the US as an immigrant fleeing from World War I with limited English, later becomes a man who leaves an indelible mark on the city.
All three of these men personify different aspects of the American dream and I would love to listen to a discussion between these three owners regarding their experiences, and what The Pfister Hotel meant to them as they moved through their careers.
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