Postcard: Grand Ave. Park & Public Library, Milwaukee, Wis.

This postcard is postmarked 1908. It shows the scene looking east down what is now called Wisconsin Avenue from 10th Street. In the background, on the north side of the street, is the Milwaukee Public Library. It was opened in 1898. The Library shared the building with the Milwaukee Public Museum until the museum moved to its own building across Wells Street in the mid-1960s.

The church on the right still stands. St. James’ Episcopal Church was built in 1867. It closed its doors in November 2017 and was sold. The new owners have opened a wedding and events venue in the building.

While the postcard is postmarked 1908, the photo likely predates 1903. The Saint James Court Apartments were built in 1903 and would be obvious beyond the church. Both the church and the apartments are on the National Register of Historic Places.

You can see three monuments in the middle of Grand/Wisconsin Avenue. The furthest one is very difficult to see–barely a dark smudge against a brown building–but that is Milwaukee’s oldest monument. The 3,000-pound, 10-foot tall statue of George Washington was presented to the city 1885 and was recently restored.

The tall monument in the center is called the Carnival Column with Sphere. This 65-foot Corinthian column commemorates the week-long carnival held in Milwaukee during the administration of Mayor David Rose. The eagle pictured atop the sphere was identical to those above the public library entrance.

And on the left is The Victorious Charge, an 1898 civil war monument. This bronze group of four soldiers, cast in Rome, is dedicated to “those who fought in the War for the Union.” When a local art patron failed to raise the needed funds for the monument, Captain Frederick Pabst paid the balance.

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milwaukee_Public_Library

https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Property/HI27620

https://onmilwaukee.com/history/articles/stjamesspelunking.html

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=9d02251f-4c0c-464b-944c-27c868350047

https://npgallery.nps.gov/NRHP/AssetDetail?assetID=5b89dc04-a088-446b-81db-2751d0a1426b

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Monument_(Milwaukee)

https://www.tmj4.com/news/local-news/newly-restored-george-washington-monument-back-on-display-in-downtown-milwaukee

http://www.wisconsinhistoricalmarkers.com/2015/06/historic-milwaukee-west-wisconsin-avenue_6.html

https://onmilwaukee.com/history/articles/courtofhonor.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Victorious_Charge

Identifiers:

PLUS Code: 23QG+C5 Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximate Google Street View Today: https://goo.gl/maps/LAXKmDx6zhZsW4ya6

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.

Sources:

http://oldmilwaukee.net/detail-history-form.php?id=481

https://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Records/Property/HI16199

https://www.wilkow.com/portfolio/gas-light-building

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wisconsin_Gas_Building

https://www.emporis.com/buildings/122443/wisconsin-gas-building-milwaukee-wi-usa

https://emke.uwm.edu/entry/wisconsin-gas-building/

https://www.wuwm.com/post/update-story-behind-flame-wisconsin-avenue#stream/0

https://www.bizjournals.com/milwaukee/blog/real_estate/2015/04/gas-light-building-in-downtown-milwaukee-sold-for.html

Identifiers:

EBN 122443

AHI 16199

OldMilwaukee.net 481

PLUS Code: 23QW+JP Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Approximate Google Street View: https://goo.gl/maps/dBuxJAUyFtZTJem16