Public Library Display on 70th Anniversary of End of World War 2

The Central Library has a small display on the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. It’s in the 2nd floor hallway near the Humanities Room entrance. It focuses on FDR’s death, his Four Freedoms, includes Norman Rockwell’s Four Freedoms poster series and their first appearances in The Saturday Evening Post.

Next month’s focus will be on V-E Day & Gertie the Duck. June may be a bric-a-brac on the home front, death camps & Okinawa. July will be on Potsdam and Churchill’s Tories losing the 1945 UK election before wrapping up in August w/the A-Bombs & V-J Day.

Display materials are from the Milwaukee Public Library’s magazine and newspaper collections, Historic Poster Collection, Historic Photo Collection and Historical Sheet Music Collection.

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Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Green Sheet?

From an interview with Journal Sentinel editor George Stanley:

Hi everyone. I’m curious to know how many other readers would like us to find a way to bring back The Green Sheet for old time’s sake, if we could manage it?

Duane Dudek also blogged about the possibility of its return.

If you would like to see it come back, let him know by emailing him here: jsedit@journalsentinel.com If there are enough supportive emails the Green Sheet could have a green light!

Thanks to Dan Lee for the heads up!

Old Homes

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From an early 20th century German Newspaper. This ad shows a newly built duplex at 1252 25th Street which now has an address of 3052 N. 25th Street. The house is still there but has gone through many changes over the years. The current value of the house isn’t too much more than the price back then.

Pride In Place

The Milwaukee County Historical Society will present a new exhibit with an opening presentation on the evening of Thursday, February 12. Don’t miss this event!

Join us for the Opening of our Newest Exhibitions

Thursday, February 12
Milwaukee County Historical Center
6:00pm – 8:00pm
Presentation at 7:00pm
Wine and light hors d’oeuvres provided

RSVP by Monday, February 9th to info@milwaukeehistory.net or 414-273-8288

February 5th through April 10th

By taking pride in place, Milwaukeeans can learn to appreciate the city and its built landscape. Though much has been lost over the decades, an impressive array of buildings and houses remain. From a perspective of pride we can look at how Milwaukee emerged, how it has been maintained and/or reworked over the decades, issues of preservation, current land usage, and new uses and initiatives going forward. Through a combination of artifacts, photos, text, and interactive elements, we can explore important issues regarding Milwaukee’s architecture and built environment and how people in and outside of Milwaukee view and approach the city.

Don’t miss this major exhibition that will allow you to simultaneously revel in Milwaukee’s impressive architectural past, relish that which still remains, and explore where it may be going.

Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm – Book Event

Join senior historian of the Pabst Mansion, John Eastberg in a presentation of his new book, “Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm” at Boswell Books on Tuesday, December 30th. The event will start at 7:00pm at 2559 N. Downer Avenue. Mark it on your calendar!

From the UW-Press webpage:

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Pabst Farms
The History of a Model Farm
John C. Eastberg
Foreword by James C. Pabst

The great brewery family’s innovative farm

Although the Pabst name is world-famous for its ties to the brewing industry, Fred Pabst Jr. balanced his duty to the family brewery with his love of land and livestock. In 1906, he began purchasing large parcels of land near Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, to create one of the most important model farms in the United States. Employing the latest advances in American and European agricultural theory, he organized a sustainable farming operation that provided all that was necessary for his selfsufficient farm.

From the construction of new farm buildings to the selection of diverse livestock, Pabst carefully considered every detail of his landmark farming operation. Hackney and Percheron horses were the mainstay of Pabst Farms until the popularity of the automobile quickly made horse breeding for carriages and wagons a thing of the past. Undaunted, Pabst transformed his 1,400-acre farm operation to focus solely on the development and breeding of award-winning, high-production Holstein dairy cattle. This is the story of how one family made their mark on Wisconsin’s dairy industry, but also of the Pabst family’s life on the farm and their efforts to bring the Pabst Brewing Company through the dark days of Prohibition with the development of a revolutionary cheese product, Pabst-ett. Pabst Farms: The History of a Model Farm showcases Wisconsin’s dairy history at its best and is illustrated with hundreds of photographs from the Pabst family’s private archives.

Milwaukee’s Supermodel

Most may have heard about Martin Tullgren and his sons, the family of early 20th century architects who made an impact on the landscape of the city. They are well know for a variety of incredibly decorative masterpieces such as the Watts Building at the northwest corner of Mason & Jefferson and the Bertelson Building on Prospect & Windsor Place. The two sons who took over the business when their father Martin died in 1922 were Herbert and Minard. Minard died scant years later in 1928 at the age of 41 of a heart attack leaving behind a wife and two young sons and two much younger daughters.

His oldest daughter, Barbara was only four at his death but grew up to be a beautiful young woman of 17 in 1941. She entered and won a statewide beauty contest for the American Legion where she won in a pool of 50 contestants. She became the queen and official hostess when the American Legion had their national convention here in September of that year. After graduating from Shorewood High School she studied for a time at Layton School of Art in fashion design before her big break came.

In March 1943, her mother persuaded her to enter a contest at the Riverside theater to select an entrant most closely resembling a Powers model, the largest model agency in the country located in New York. Of course she easily won against 69 other contestants and won a trip to New York to meet with John Powers. She set out for the big apple with her aunt as chaperone but once there she at once was brought to the headquarters of the agency where she met John Powers. When he set eyes on her he exclaimed, “My God, where did you come from? So you want to stay in New York?”, and her career was launched. Within a week she was modeling for Vogue and meeting celebrities and Hollywood stars. Her rise was so quick it was like a fairy tale.

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The Lion in the Public Library

If you got to read the January issue of the Historic Milwaukee, Inc. newsletter, “Echo” you already know the story told by Dan Lee of Sim the lion who lived on the roof of the Central Library in the late 1920’s. If not you may want to see this news story from Fox 6 telling the story last month. The Milwaukee Public Museum also has a video posted on Youtube with rare, original film of Sim when he was just a cub.

Caution for cute lion cub pictures.
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Florence Killilea

Several years back, Dennis Pajot had written a great bio of Florence Killilea, the president of the Milwaukee Brewers for the 1929 and 1930 seasons. Sadly, she left us in 1931 when she was much too young and never had the chance to show her true potential. The sketch shown below was from the Wisconsin News in May 2, 1929.

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Buildings That Are Older Than They Seem

Those people that came downtown during Doors Open Milwaukee last month had a chance to see some old, historic buildings. The age of the buildings was apparent in the layers of dust and dirt and the classic architectural features like mansard roofs, elaborate cornices, carved stonework, and incredible terra cotta ornaments. Some of the buildings that weren’t open were probably given a quick look as they were passed but nothing much stood out to identify the buildings as historic and old.

It is surprising to find that a building’s history is much older than it seems. Even when the building looks old, it might be that it is much older. One interesting example is the Lou Fritzel Building located at 733 N. Milwaukee Street. The Fritzel women’s clothing business occupied the building since it was renovated in 1939 until it closed 50 years later in 1989. Since then it has mostly remained vacant and time is starting to take its toll on the empty shell, making it look older than the style of its Moderne facade. In fact the building actually was built in 1877 with an Italianate style common to some neighboring buildings.

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The renovation of 1939 clipped off the top two stories and made the building a one story building that was very modern looking for the street at the time. On the adjacent buildings the ghost silhouette of the original building can still be seen. There really are no visible clues to the real age of the building when seen from the street.

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Another nearby building that might seem to be very recent is the 14 story Banker’s Building at the northeast corner of Water and Wisconsin. It was actually built in 1929 by Eschweiler and Eschweiler architects in a stylish neo-classical design similar to many buildings built at that time like the Hilton Hotel at 5th & Wisconsin or the Empire Building at Plankinton & Wisconsin. It originally had a much different exterior with terra cotta banding on the cornice and top floors. The bottom two floors had elaborate terra cotta ornamentation and large plate glass windows with darker brass metalwork. A complete renovation in 1983 removed all of the old brick work and terra cotta to be replaced with a more monochrome, dark red brick. Windows were replaced with modern, dark windows in vertical bands making the building appear very contemporary.

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A few other buildings exist downtown that have been made over a few times and are extremely different than they once looked. I’ll try to write a future blog post about these other buildings.

Police Court Scenes 1915

One of my favorite columns from the Milwaukee Daily News was the Police Court Scenes. Reporters from several dailies at the time always found interesting stories at the Police Court every day. Sometimes they were sad stories of abuse and sometimes odd and funny stories unfolded in the courtroom. This story was one of the latter. Enjoy!

Milwaukee Daily News, June 24, 1915

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The wheels of justice were grinding out their grist of verdicts and decisions and fines; the courtroom was silent but for the drone of low-voiced witnesses and the occasional sharp rap of the deputy’s hammer. Suddenly the spectators, the attorney and the judge were astonished to hear irrelevant words apparently spring from the lips of a witness who had just been sworn.

“Rub-a-dub-dub, three men in a tub; the cow jumped over the moon,” was what it sounded like.

The judge glanced up sharply. The lips of the witness twitched and he looked startled.

“Honest. I didn’t say a word!” he stammered.

The court was framing a reprimand when another interruption came. This time a solemn, gray-haired police sergeant, who was sitting in one of the front rows, seemed to shout:

“I’m getting tired of hanging around this blamed court. If something doesn’t happen soon, I’ll pull my revolver and start something!”

Everybody turned his way. The sergeant almost fell off the bench. But attention was distracted when from underneath one of the benches came sounds indicating a dog fight. There were whines, barks and yelps of pain. The deputies made for the spot and nearly collapsed when they found no trace of a canine.

“Spooks!” they gasped.

“Right-o!” cried a dapper little fellow who popped out of the bull pen, hat in hand and smiling blandly. “Reginald Spooks of Spokane, that’s me. Cops nabbed me last night for being drunk. Didn’t know who I was. Here’s my card,” and he handed a pasteboard to the judge.

“‘Reginald Spooks, ventriloquist,'” read the judge. “Oh!” he exclaimed as an afterthought, “that explains it.”

“I can throw my voice forty ways,” grinned Spooks. “Some dog fight that was, eh? Ha! Ha! I’m clever – what?”

“You may entertain the prisoners at the workhouse for fifteen days,” said the judge.