Postcard: Milwaukee Gas Light Co. Building

The building at 626 East Wisconsin Avenue has been known by a number of similar names. This postcard labels it Milwaukee Gas Light Building, but it’s also been known as the Wisconsin Gas Light Building, the Wisconsin Gas Building, and now as the Gas Light Building. In 2015, it was purchased for $20.5 million by M & J Wilkow, and as of 2020, the property management firm continues to own and lease out space in the office building.

The postcard isn’t postmarked, but it’s easy to get some idea of the postcard’s date. The iconic 21-foot flame atop of the building is missing, which means this postcard was published between 1930 when the building was completed and 1956 when the flame was constructed. based on the cars on the street, the postcard appears to be from the 30s, shortly after the building construction was completed.

The flame shares a simple weather forecast based on a rhyme that generations of Milwaukee children knew (albeit with several variations):

When the flame is red, it’s warm weather ahead.
When the flame is gold, watch out for cold.
When the flame is blue, there’s no change in view.
When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain!

Some erroneous reports indicate the flame was originally powered by gas, but it’s always been electric. It was built with neon and argon tubing and then converted to energy-efficient LED lighting. The flame has been in continual operation for over 60 years except for the period of 1978 to 1985 when it was darkened due to the energy crisis.

The building was designed by architects Eschweiler & Eschweiler to shift from dark granite at the base to red and pink brick in the midsection and cream color brick at the top.



EBN 122443

AHI 16199 481

PLUS Code: 23QW+JP Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximate Google Street View:

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