The Milwaukee Ornamental Carving Company

This ornamental workshop was one of the large, early companies specializing in large sculptures in the city. It was founded by two German immigrants in 1886; Carl Kuehns and Otto Papke. Carl was a woodcarver and Otto was an artistic plasterer. Together they created numerous works of art and mixed with the large groups of German artists and artisans downtown.

The article mentions the work of the company included the lost statue of Germania that was removed from the Germania Building after the start of World War 1. Other sculptures that were done by Carl Kuehns include the Pabst statue of King Gambrinus, the statue of Aurora which was at the old Schlitz Palm Garden downtown, and he even carved circus wagons for Ringling Brothers.

The following article is from the Milwaukee Journal of February 17, 1906 and gives a general overview of the company.

The Milwaukee Ornamental Carving Company

While other cities are boasting of their magnificent statues along their boulevards, of their beautiful decorations in places of public interest, Milwaukee can go them one better by declaiming that the works of art about the city are the products of Milwaukee artists. When the city desires to erect a monument commemorative of some brave deed or historic event, Milwaukee artists are called upon to do the work. When the local citizen wants to build a structure calling for artistic interior decorations of bronze and stone, he can find the best workmen in this city.

The Milwaukee Ornamental Carving Co. is famous throughout the northwest for its artistic work. In a recent article the Western Builder says: “The firm has won high reputation of producing the finest kind of modeling, which, because of its trueness of detail, is recommended by many of the most prominent architects in the United States.”

The firm was organized in 1886 with C. Kuehns and O. H. Papke as proprietors. Mr. Kuehns is a sculptor of the highest ability, having been graduated with honors from the Academy of Arts in Berlin, Germany. The firm has done a great deal of work for the theaters, churches and public buildings of the city. Among the familiar local objects of art which are the products of this firm is the bronze statue over the entrance to the Germania building, three large reliefs in St. Stanislaus church, and other work of equal ability. The large Statue of Liberty in the old Exposition building was also the work of Mr. Kuehns. The trade of the firm is not confined to the local field. all the ornamental interior decorations in the residence of Col. W. H. Morgan of Alliance, O., were made by this Milwaukee firm. The firm also has produced artistic designs for a number of the largest cathedrals throughout the country, The firm employes nearly fifty skilled workmen in their special lines.

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