Monday Milwaukee Mystery

Today’s mystery takes us back downtown to a well known landmark building. “Historic”, you might say. The small cherub is a common theme in the Monday Mystery series and on Milwaukee buildings but this one is a little different than most we have had in the past. Who can be the first to guess where this guy is?

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

I am almost at that point where I have exhausted the interesting faces on downtown buildings so it is time to start moving to other areas of the city. Hopefully some of you may be able to more easily identify these buildings!

This near south-side building in the Fifth ward was built in 1899 as the picture shows with this fancy stone scrollwork above the entrance. This design does not have a face but it is distinctive enough that some of you may have noticed it. This is on a major thoroughfare and an extra clue will be the last few symbols in this paragraph. Where is this building located ??????

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

Today’s mystery figure/face is on a well known east side building (not east side of downtown). This picture depicts a coal miner which had significance for the original owner of the building. Who can be the first to guess the building and where it is located??

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

The stag head shown below sits above the entrance to a popular East Town restaurant. Who will be the first to guess where this mystery face is located?

Milwaukee’s Lake Front Airport

Next time you travel over the Hoan Bridge, look around and imagine what might have been if some ideas had been carried through about 80 years ago. This editorial is from the Milwaukee Journal of August 27, 1930. Remember, Maitland field was about where the summerfest grounds are now, and of course, the Illinois Steel Co. site was south of this.

“A.R. Taliaferro, chief of the airport division of the United States department of commerce, tells Milwaukeeans something about Maitland field. It is too small, he says, for general airport use; it probably is not the proper field ultimately to be a main airport and certainly not the proper field to be a joint water-rail-air terminal. Mr. Taliaferro makes no final declaration. His considered opinion will be submitted later. But these seem to be his impressions.

They are in line with what some others have said, with what many Milwaukeeans have thought. Probably the right place for a lake front airport is on the Illinois Street Co. site and on new land that can be made there.

This site also is wanted by the harbor commission. That commission cannot show immediate need for the big tract of land. In fact, it is doubtful whether the purchase of the area would be justified merely for harbor purposes. What the harbor will become—how much shipping will make use of it—remains to be seen.

However, if both ships and airplanes can use this site, and if rail terminals upon it also can be arranged, then the purchase decidedly is worth considering.

Milwaukee should have a lake front terminal airport. It should use Maitland field temporarily; perhaps it will always be of use as a lakefront landing place. But we should not allow any group of enthusiasts to induce the expenditure of much money on that field or gradually to edge in permanent improvements that never will be adequate for real terminal purposes in any event.

Maitland field presents more than the problem of size. The question is whether Milwaukee wants to develop another transportation terminal dangerously near that part of its lake short already dedicated to recreational use, especially by those who cannot afford cottages on inland lakes; or whether the water-rail-air terminal should be developed on another part of the shore, better formed, or larger landing area, more suitable and nearly as convenient to the downtown district.

Maitland field should be used in the meantime, of course; but it should not be developed on any large scale when something better is in prospect—at least not unless the purchase of the Illinois Steel Co. site is found to be impracticable”.

MPL Photo of Maitland Field

MPL Photo of Maitland Field

Dennis Pajot
Milwaukee

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

Today’s mystery are a pair of faces on a downtown church. The faces have been around for nearly 150 years so they have seen many Milwaukee changes. They have managed to survive a fire in the early days of the church which gutted the building. Who knows the church where these faces live?

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

Happy New Year, fans and friends! The first mystery of the year takes us back to a 19th century building in the east town neighborhood of downtown. At the top of this building is a ring of winged cherubs cavorting. Try to say that five times fast!

Who can guess which well-known building this week’s mystery is on?

A Brief History of the Republican House

On the night of Saturday, March 29, 1930, there was a large fire at Milwaukee’s downtown Republican House. No one was reported killed, but many were overcome by smoke and carried from the building. The fire chief reported a cigarette in the laundry shoot was to blame for the blaze.

The Republican House stood on the northwest corner of Third and Kilbourn, now a parking lot for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. It was taken down in 1961.

The next morning’s Milwaukee Sentinel ran this interesting article on the history of the hotel. Some of the details differ slightly from other accounts I have read, but still it is of interest, I think.

The Republican House is rich in historic lore.

When built in 1836 by Deacon Samuel Brown for Andrew Clybourn, it was thought altogether too large for the business of the day. William P. Merrill, one o the pioneers of Milwaukee, had the contract for putting on the cornices, which still adorn the building and form a distinguishing feature. They were quite a curiosity in those days.

Linked with the building are many pioneers. Benjamin Church and Morgan L. Burdick are others who had a hand in its building.

The hotel was the scene of a big celebration when the ground for the ill-fated Milwaukee and Rock River Canal was broken by Kilbourn and others. It was there that William A. Webber put up the first billiard table in Milwaukee.

In those days the hotel was situated on Cherry street, between Second and Third streets. When the west side became more populous it was moved to the corner of Cedar and Third streets.

The original name of the hotel was the Washington House, which name was retained until about the time of the birth of the Republican party, when it was given its present name, its proprietor being an ardent republican.

For many years it was conducted by Alvin Kletzsch and his brothers. Later its control passed to Ray Smith, Inc.

The hotel has had many distinctions. It was the first hotel in Wisconsin to install electricity. It also led in adopting the cafeteria style of serving meals on a large scale. It was the second hotel in the United States to have its own cold storage and refrigerating plant. It was the first hotel to build a convention hall in its own building.

It was Dec. 31, 1875, when the Kletzsch family took charge of the famous hotel. Charles F. Kletzsch, father of the boys, leased it at that time and conducted it without any notable change until 1880, when he purchased the property and erected the first unit of a number of additions. At that time Milwaukee had a population of about 69,000.

The old Republican house at that time was away from the center of business, but Kletzsch foresaw the development of Third street in the vicinity of his property, and in 1883 a second unit was added. A year later the corner building was razed and the two wings were connected by the Cedar street addition, forming one complete unit.

In 1888 the Charles F. Kletzsch company was incorporated, the elder Mr. Kletzsch retiring and turning over the business to Alvin P. Kletzsch and Herman O. Kletzsch , his sons. In 1892 they added the fireproof addition and in 1900 another unit was added, and this was known as the Third street addition.

A year ago the hotel again passed back into the hands of Alvin and Herman Kletzsch. Charles Karrow was installed as manager.

William George Bruce, close friend of the Kletzsch family owners of the Republican hotel, had retired for the night when called to be informed of the fire in the hotel.

“It was one of the most famous hotels of the state,” he said. “It was for many years one of the most popular hotels in the city, especially with people from the central and northern sections of the state. It was the scene of many of the old social gatherings, those of the German-American element predominating.”

“The old hotel was started by Charles F. Kletzsch, who took it over when it was little more than an old boarding house. That was when it was a frame structure. Under his management it rapidly became noted for this wonderful hospitality and excellent table. It was soon torn down to make room for the first unit, built of brick and stone. The new Republican house continued to prosper and three times the building was enlarged by the addition of other units.

“When Mr. Kletsch [sic] passed away, two of his sons took over the management. Under the direction of Alvin and Herman O. Kletzsch, who continued the policies and methods of their father, the hotel continued to prosper. The boys added the Park hotel in Madison to their holdings and it, too, had a wonderful success.

“Being not far from the old Exposition building, where all of the state political conventions and caucuses were held, the hotel, under the skillful direction of Alvin and Herman, was considered exactly what its name said, the republican hotel of the state. In its guest rooms and meeting rooms many a candidacy has been doomed to bud and die unseen and unknown. Many a prominent figure in state politics had his first acceptance in those secret meetings of the old republicans in the old Republican hotel.

“Some years ago the Kletzsch brothers sold their hotel, but not the real estate, to Ray Smith of the New Pfister hotel. He, too, made a success of the place and later disposed of it to Harry Newmann, one of the owners of the Kirby house when that was torn down. Some two months ago, Mr. Newmann wanted to retire from the Milwaukee hotel business and the Kletzsch boys again came into possession of it.

“Herman O. Kletsch [sic] is still interested in the German-American activities and is one of the leaders of the Steuben society of Milwaukee. Another brother, Dr. Gustav Kletsch, is proprietor of the Nutricis [?] farms, and Arthur Kletzsch is vice president of the Morris Fox company, investment securities dealers.”

Dennis Pajot
Milwaukee

Old Buildings Made New

In the 1930s and 1940s, the effort was underway to give Milwaukee a more modern appearance. This was usually done by tearing down old buildings and building new. It was usually cheaper to take an old building and make it look modern. Sometimes this was effective as was the case with Lou Fritzel building at 733 N. Milwaukee St and also the building shown below on N. Teutonia Ave. Although with the passing of time and less attractive renovations the building doesn’t appear too modern anymore.

Milwaukee Journal January 9, 1938

The remarkable improvement that can be made in soundly built old structures that are out of date in style is shown by the transformation of the Staadt Hardware Co building at 2816 N. Teutonia av. The pictures show the building before and after. Alexander H. Bauer, Milwaukee architect, designed the remodeling, using Lustron, a new enameled steel with a glass finish, to veneer the exterior. The new material is handled by Porcelain Building Products, Inc.


As it look now, via Google Maps.

Monday Milwaukee Mystery

I know that everyone has been breathlessly awaiting this all day so here it is! It is the post-Christmas Monday Mystery.

This could be easy. It is on a downtown building and portrays justice with her scales. On which building can this be found?