Building History Database

For those of you that know only the blog section of the website you may want to explore a little further. There is a steadily growing and updated database of downtown Milwaukee buildings. This database lists brief histories of existing and old buildings, some of which are long gone.

You can use the “Downtown Building Database Search” many different ways by searching by architect, building name or just by looking to see what is newly added to the list. I have been taking pictures of existing buildings to add to the database, finding older building images to scan, and doing extra research to find more information. This resource will continue to expand so check back often!


Comments (4)

  1. John Cooper

    Thanks for this. I’ve been curious about the origin of the Watts (Tea House) building for some time—the large, bay-like windows reaching to sidewalk level misled me into hypothesizing that it had been an early auto showroom. It’s nice to have the definitive answer (that it was built in 1926 as a china shop).

  2. mkemaster

    You’re welcome. I found out that the link in that entry was broken so I have since fixed it. Click on the picture in the link to see what it looked like shortly after it was built.

  3. John Cooper

    Great! The database is terrific work. Now if I only knew why the building behind the Watts building—a nondescript edifice the database identifies as the Stephenson Building, “originally a home for the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music”—sports an old industrial chimney worthy of a massive forge!

    I can tell I’m going to spend hours with this site. Thanks again.

  4. mkemaster

    If I had to guess, I would say the Stephenson building was constructed with its own coal power plant in the basement which needed the large chimney. That was about the time the use of electricity was starting to take hold and it made sense to have the power source in-house rather than depend on TMERL. I agree that the chimney is huge and am surprised they never have removed it to give more floor space. I doubt it has been needed for a very long time. I will look into it more and try to find an answer.

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