Old Homes

sample-House1

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.

Hidden History of Milwaukee

Join OnMilwaukee.com’s Bobby Tanzilo for a behind-the-scenes tour of Milwaukee’s past. Sail out to the Breakwater Lighthouse, scramble up the wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum and dig up the city’s roots on the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Seize the chance to do a little urban spelunking and explore basilicas, burial grounds and breweries. Ring the bell in the city hall tower, and take a turn around the secret indoor track at a Montessori school. No space is off limits in these untold stories of the Cream City’s most familiar places and celebrated landmarks.

This is Bobby Tanzilo’s latest book about Milwaukee’s history and it pulls together many of the stories he has told in his On Milwaukee columns. He will be on hand to talk about the book and answer questions.


Here is a recent interview from On Milwaukee.

Boswell Books
2559 N. Downer Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Wednesday May 21, at 7:00 pm

About the Author: Bobby Tanzilo is managing editor at OnMilwaukee.com. Born and raised in Brooklyn, he moved to Milwaukee when he was 17 and has lived in nearly every neighborhood in the city. He earned a BA-Mass Communication at UW-Milwaukee and is author of The Milwaukee Police Station Bomb of 1917, as well as three other nonfiction books. He lives in Milwaukee with his family, where he serves on the school governance council at his children’s Milwaukee Public School, and is creator of the website, SchoolMattersMKE.com.

Tanzilo

HMI January Panel Discussion

The East Side Commercial Historic District: From Controversy to Catalyst

The HMI panel discussion on Thursday night, January 17th talked about many recent issues and changes that have happened in the East Side Commercial Historic District. This locally designated historic district, under the jurisdiction of the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is shown here:

The controversy which spawned this discussion began in 2010 with plans by Wave Development to build a new 200 room Marriott Hotel in place of five historic buildings within the district. The developers fought the HPC rejection of their initial plans. Those plans ran counter to preservation guidelines put in place for the district in 1987 as well as the Preservation Ordinance. The ensuing battle between the developer’s public relations firm, the City HPC, and preservationists became a media event for weeks. When the dust settled, the developer revised their plans to save the Noonan Block on Wisconsin Avenue. The Preservation Ordinance was subsequently put in the spotlight with promises to be gutted by Alderman Witkowski because it was viewed as anti-development. It was amended in December of 2012 by the Common Council but with changes that made it stronger and not weaker. The final consensus was that preservation “makes good economic sense”.

UWM Professor, Matt Jarosz presented the history of the district and its importance as the virtual heart of Milwaukee since the first settlement. It is unique among similar American cities in not continuously redeveloping the land as time progressed. Many of the buildings within the district are 19th century interspersed with a few early 20th century buildings examples. Professor Jarosz went on to give a multitude of examples from his students on how this district could be improved to take advantage of the current impediments. Some of the best concepts took advantage of underutilized surface parking to build modern buildings that connect to historic buildings and offer updated access to those buildings. These new buildings would add larger entrances, elevator service, and other improvements to modern standards and codes without requiring expensive retrofits to the older, historic buildings. One example showed how a new structure to the south of the Iron Block could add features to it and the Zimmermann Block next door. Infilling adjacent to the Button Block would encourage re-use of the upper floors. Another interesting proposal was converting the public alleys into shared space that could be used as a semi-covered pedestrian space or for extended outdoor seating. His common theme was that intelligent, planned new development could reinvigorate the district and encourage property owners to invest in building rehabilitation.

Some of the other presentations of the evening included an overview of the work done by architect Mark Demsky of Dental Associates with the restoration of the Iron Block Building. Dental Associates took unprecedented steps in restoring features that had been removed from the building over 100 years ago including decorative cast iron urns above the Water Street entrance and intricate grape leaves on the columns. He researched the history of renovations and found a trove of information that would be overlooked by architects doing a basic renovation. When the building is unveiled in March it should be a showpiece of preservation in Milwaukee.

Steve Schwartz, CEO of the First Hospitality Group talked about his company’s work renovating the Loyalty building on Broadway and Michigan. They faced many challenges in converting the Solomon Spencer Beman designed masterpiece from an office building into a hotel with modern conveniences. As with many 125 year-old buildings, it had been remodeled many times over the years, removing or hiding some of the notable features. The First Hospitality Group has been involved in several adaptive re-uses nationally, this building being the sixth. The first was in Indianapolis, converting a former 16-story bank building into a Hilton Garden Inn in 2003. Adaptive re-use preserves details of historic buildings that couldn’t be done economically in a new building and creates an “experiential” space encouraging participation and use.

The final talk was given by Josh Jeffers, owner of the Mitchell Building with the work he has been doing the past few years in stabilizing the foundations of his building as well as the facade and roof renovations. The persistent problem of a dropping watertable downtown have resulted in the exposure of old wooden piles under building foundations to wood rot. In the Mitchell Building, it was found that many of the footings were unsupported because of the advanced state of decay of these pilings. The exterior of the building shows some effects of the settlement over the years. The work to repair the problem has been time consuming because nearly all of the excavation has to be done by hand in tight spaces in the basement. Great care must be taken to avoid further damage to the building. The area under the stone pile caps must be removed manually, the rotted piles must be cut out and a new concrete pile cap was poured in the excavated area. In addition, a new technology of using the building’s wastewater in a sub-basement drain system was used to keep the deeper wooden piles wet and free from future rot. This major investment in the building will keep it standing firm for many years to come.

The Sisters of the Divine Savior convent

Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, Inc.  posted a link to an article (unavailable unless you subscribe to the news outlet) about this old convent on 35th & Center St.

their comment:

“What’s wrong with this picture and why can’t the City of Milwaukee see it?
Has the city advertised this building to developers?
Where is the leadership from elected officials?

Milwaukee scours coffers for costly demo job | The Daily Reporter

It would cost Milwaukee an entire year’s demolition budget to tear down the former St. Mary’s convent on West Center Street, but vandalism and the fear of squatters setting fires this winter have pushed city officials to scour their coffers and schedule demolition for December.”

 

Taken from The Sisters of the Divine Savior  website:  http://my.dsha.info/page.aspx?pid=416

“The Sisters of the Divine Savior opened their convent school at 35th and Center Streets to lay students in 1948. Three years later Divine Savior High School moved to a new building on 100th Street near Capitol Drive. Holy Angels Academy was founded by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary on 12th and Cedar Streets in 1892. In a spirit of cooperation and good will, the two schools affiliated in 1970 and continued the mission of both by joining together their names, traditions, students and alumnae.”

So we can trace the 35th & Center location to 1948  (which they moved out of in 1951).   So has this complex sat vacant for  61 years?   Does anyone know any stories, or have older pic of the complex?

 

Judging by the Google Streetview, at least the exterior looks like it’s in decent enough shape.

Milwaukee Bookmobile

Hello,  I am looking for a color photo/postcard of the Milwaukee Public Library bookmobiles, as painted in the 1970s or perhaps the later 1960s. As I recall, these were light blue with other trim colors on them. Maybe brown or yellow.

Does anyone know of a site with an image or perhaps could post one or share one with me?

Paul

 

The images that I have found of the bookmobiles are much older than that and don’t have the aqua blue paint.

Thank you.

1948 Westown Milwaukee Aerial View

This is a great aerial view of the Westown section of downtown looking west along Kilbourn Avenue. It is from sometime in the late 1940’s before the Arena was built and after the area east of the Courthouse was cleared out in 1941. It gives an interesting view of an area of downtown that was already past its peak and was succumbing to an urban renewal frenzy that eventually nearly cleared it into oblivion.

Note: This link will take you to the Gigapan page with a high resolution view.

A comparable view from 1967 is shown here with many more buildings magically turned into parking lots. This view was before MECCA was built in 1974.

Milwaukee Public Schools leading to some other questions

One of my long term projects is on the Milwaukee Public schools.   This is going much slower than I thought, only because there is so much interesting material that diverts me away from where I am supposed to be working.

I have been given a copy of an image that is of unknown location, year, and significance, but thought that someone could give me some information on it.

The picture is attached and shows children and their teacher wearing cold weather coats, hats, and blankets on their laps.  In the background, there are two men just right of center in the photo.

It appears to me that the classroom does not have a wall in the back, but the print quality is pretty poor.

I am going to guess that the picture was taken in the 1890s or so.

Does anyone know anything about this photo?  I cannot find a copy of it on the Internet and because of the two men in the background who look like they are of some import, I do not think that this is the normal photo showing children undergoing horrible conditions to inspire the public to act, such as the famous Breaker Boy photos of children working in the coal industry or pictures of street orphans in NYC.

When I attended John Marshall High in Milwaukee, I vaguely recall our senior history class text stating that schools in the 1890s in some of the eastern coast region had enrollments of up to 10,000 or 12,000 students!  I don’t know if I am remembering that anywhere near being accurate, as Marshall’s enrollment when I was there was over 3,900 and it seemed pretty big.

The photo makes me wonder if this was taken at one of those schools where the numbers of children were rapidly increasing and this was the temporary solution to that, while walls were going to be added or a room was being built elsewhere.

Could anyone enlighten me on the photo, including a source for a better copy? I would also love to hear whether those gigantic schools did exist.

Thank you.

Paul

Book News – 1950s Radio in Color

A new book written and put together by Christopher Kennedy brings to light a series of photographs taken by Cleveland DJ Tommy Edwards during the late 50s and early 60s. Tommy Edwards hailed from Milwaukee and worked several years for WOKY prior to his new job at Cleveland’s WERE.

The archive of more than 1,700 photographic slides was discovered by the author 5 years ago and sheds light on the disc jockey’s work with a huge number of music and Hollywood celebrities as they passed through the midwestern city. It documents through 200 original photographs and press releases a view of what it was like working with these classic artists and how the industry was transformed during the birth of Rock ‘n Roll.

This is a great book for those interested in the cultural heritage of the music industry.

The book can be ordered through Kent State University Press:
1950s Radio in Color

Happy Fourth!

It is a great day to remember our nation’s history! It is important to not only remember and celebrate the Declaration of Independence but also all of the history which has made America the country it is. Take time to educate yourself on the history of your country and city!

Sorry about the lack of a Monday mystery today. Holiday activities have delayed getting a mystery question posted. Check back again soon!!