The Milliner Conservatory, also known as The MC, is located at 403 Water Street in Eau Claire, WI. The site now exists in what was once commonly called “The Pioneer Block,” however, the name has since faded away from common use.
The Pioneer Block consists of addresses 401-409 Water Street and was re-built using the influence of High Victorian Gothic and to replace the original wooden structure which was lost to fire in 1882. A spark from the docked steamboat, Minnie Hernas, on the Chippewa River ignited refuse behind the building, ultimately destroying the homes and livelihoods of seventy-three people. By 1883 the brick structure that now houses The MC and VER salon was built at a cost of $20,000. George Orff and his brother, Fremont, were commissioned to design a new building. The integrated design was intended to
take the place of several smaller buildings, in keeping with the modernization of commercial design popular at the time.
In 1984 The Pioneer Block was restored with federal funds and designated a historical landmark in August. The name, The Milliner comes from the connection to husband/wife team hat-makers or “milliners” in the 1900’s who operated their business out of the Pioneer Block. As the founding business,
VER is a hair salon, the connection to hat making seems only fitting.