The Tripoli Shrine Center in Milwaukee’s Concordia neighborhood is truly one of the most unique event venues you’ll find anywhere. Built in 1928, the center looks like a middle eastern palace that’s been teleported to Wisconsin Avenue. The outside is an impressive architectural design woven with intricate tile work and topped with a massive dome. Twin camels statues flank the front of the building, welcoming visitors.
Inside, the center is every bit as elegant and impressive as its exterior suggests. Bright hand laid tiles and gold arabesques decorate nearly every surface, and windows with lacy metal patterns shed light throughout the interior. The foyer opens into the soaring domed ceiling and second story that overlooks the first floor. The venue is spacious, with a large ballroom space that can accommodate over 400 guests.
When not in use as an event space, the building serves as the main meeting space for the Shriners, who are known around the country for their circuses and parades, and of course for their network of children’s hospitals throughout the United States.
I met with the Temple’s Director of Sales, Terry Lea Reuteler, to learn more about this incredible venue.
Q: Tell us a little bit about the story behind the Tripoli Shrine Center.
A: This place was originally built for the Shriners—it’s 130 years old and listed on the national registry of historic places. They picked a theme based on the Taj Mahal and Eastern design for the look of the place. The Shriners opened it up to the public twelve years ago. I’ve been here (as an event coordinator) for four years. We’re getting the word out and letting people know about this place for events. We do a lot of business meetings, dances, wedding—about 30 a year—and a lot of quinceañeras. We do our wedding ceremonies right out in the foyer, and the billiard room upstairs for cocktail hour, with the ballroom for the receptions. We also do events throughout the year—Easter and Mother’s Day brunches, and a New Years Eve party with a live band, “Street Life.”
Q: What makes your venue unique?
A: The decor, of course! And we have fabulous food made by our chef, who has been with us for about a year now. He worked at different country clubs, and the presentation of the food is just wonderful.
Q: Are there any notable or particularly memorable event experiences that stand out?
A: Probably the weddings stand out the most for me. I love working with the brides and grooms from start to finish. The first thing that they’re looking for is a venue—working in this business, I also know a lot of other wedding vendors, so I always try to help them out with referrals. I really enjoy it!
Q: What do you like best about working here?
A: I like being here at the Tripoli Shrine Center. I came from a background of working in hotels; when this position opened up, I jumped on it! It’s a lot like a family because you get to know the Shriners—very different from a hotel, which is more corporate. We’re also friends here and we do things together outside of work.
Q: What’s one thing that you want people to know about the Tripoli Shrine Center?
A: I hear all the time that people have never been inside—I would love for them to come in! We have different luncheon tours for groups of ten or more, and also dinners with a 35 minute tour. Or if people don’t have time for a tour, they can just call in advance and arrange for one of the Shriners to take them around.
For more information about hosting your event at the Tripoli Shrine Center, or to tour the facility, email firstname.lastname@example.org.