Hotel Retlaw

Also known as: Ramada Plaza
15 E. Division St., Fond du Lac, Wisconsin


Overview Looking Northeast

The Retlaw Hotel, now known as the Ramada, is part of the North Main Street Historic District.

A popular urban legend says that the ghost of Walter Schroeder haunts the hotel.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in July 2010



Walter Schroeder 

Written by J.R. Manning

Walter Schroeder was born in 1878, in Milwauee, to Christian and Amalia Schroeder, German immigrants. At the age of 14, he went to work in the office of the Milwaukee Register of Deeds, where he recorded real estate transactions, mortgages, deed transfers and legal instruments, educating him in the business of real estate.

In partnership with his father, Schroeder became one of the best insurance salesmen in the state. He entered the hotel business when his firm brokered funding for the largest hotel (at the time) in Wisconsin. Unhappy with the management of the hotel, he took the responsibility himself and thus entered the field of hospitality.

He built the Hotel Astor in Milwakee, the Hotel Loraine (named for his niece) in Madison, and built or aquired six other hotels in Green Bay, Duluth, Wausau, Benton Harbor, Michigan and the Hotel Calumet in Fond du Lac, just east of the Chicago & Northwestern Depot. His crowning achievement was the Schroder Hotel in Milwaukee, his ninth hotel and the crown jewel in his chain. The Schroeder was a hotel of great luxury and opulence, a reputation it still enjoys today as the Hilton.

Walter Schroeder was also a philanthropist his entire life, which continued after his death in 1967. The Walter Schroeder Foundation continues his work, including the Walter Schroeder Library on the campus of the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

The Walter Schroeder Library is on the campus of the
Milwaukee School of Engineering. If you look closely in the
flower planter, you might see Ursula, the Vagabond Bear. She
is one of several Vagabond Bears that can be checked out from
the North Shore Library to travel to exotic locations.

For more about Walter Schroeder, please see his biography at the website of the Milwaukee School of Engineering.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on September 7, 1984
Reference number
Architectural style
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival
Areas of significance
Commerce; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1925-1949
Significant years
1922; 1926; 1934

Update Log 

  • June 8, 2014: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added to new category "Walter Schroeder"
  • October 28, 2013: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status
  • July 12, 2010: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • July 12, 2010: New photos from J.R. Manning



Hotel Retlaw
Posted September 26, 2013, by Lugnuts

You might try the Fond du Lac Historical Society.

Hotel Retlaw
Posted September 25, 2013, by Gary Abel (redsearobbinhood [at] yahoo [dot] com)

I'm trying to find when Gene Autry stayed at the Hotel Retlaw and why. Can anyone help?