Ben Tyjeski Blog Post Update

For any readers that aren’t familiar with Ben Tyjeski, he is a local sculptor that works in clay and terra cotta. He also is the expert on architectural terra cotta in the city and has written extensively about it. He has given tours of the best terra cotta you can find in Milwaukee.

His blog can be found here and I suggest you bookmark it and sign up for his emails when he updates the blog.

His latest post is about terra cotta related to brewery buildings in Milwaukee and as always, is great to read and learn!

New Year’s Eve Parties 1948-49

A couple of the great parties to ring in the new year of 1949. From the Milwaukee Sentinel.

Happy New Year!

Happy Sledding!

Happy sledding, sailor boy!

Charles Whitnall’s Civic Environmentalism

One hundred years ago on August 2, 1920, the Socialist newspaper, “The Milwaukee Leader” wrote an article about a push by C.B. Whitnall, member of the Metropolitan Park Commission, to have municipal control of land along the rivers to improve health conditions and property values. He wanted the land north of the North Avenue dam protected by city-owned parks. His ideas eventually became a reality through his efforts and even today the parks that line the river basin provide an amazing recreational spot and have helped to improve the river so that it is much cleaner than it once was.

The following text was from a publication he put together in 1920 called “What Prosperity Costs Milwaukee.” It is interesting to see that he was ahead of his time with some of the current issues we still face about public responsibility and trying to save taxes by not spending for things that will save taxes in the future. It required a lot of forethought and will for him to do the right thing. This park land Whitnall helped create continues to improve the quality of life for nearly a hundred years.

We read in the history of the decline of empires or nations, and we marvel at the ignorance and apathy of the people that brought about the decline. Yet our citizens today do not blame themselves for like conditions in Milwaukee.

“If some one should prove to us that in the last 20 years Milwaukee, through her own shortsightedness, has suffered a loss in property and human life equal to the property value of Racine, we would at once realize that a serious state of affairs existed. Something like that has really occurred. We find that although the city keeps increasing in size and number, a deplorable loss constantly takes place. Growing under those circumstances, it is like trying to fill a barrel which leaks.

“By the time you get it full you have used barrels of water. Labor in Milwaukee is being taxed directly or indirectly for filling a leaking barrel, whereas an additional expenditure properly applied would stop the leakage. Yet many of our citizens and non-partisan newspapers say we cannot afford to mend the barrel until after we have filled it. The filling is a vital necessity. The repairing in the public opinion is not. This is the penny wise and pound foolish economy now being advocated by the “keep down the tax” economist.

Perhaps the greatest decline in property value during the time stated has been north of the Menomonee River, paralleling Grand Avenue. Every real estate dealer has continual inquiry from residents of this locality for trades, seeking homes along the lake shore. Why? Because Grand Avenue is ruined, while the lake shore property is sanitary and attractive. We have a special tax of $25,000 a year that the park department is obliged to use for improvement of the lake shore. This is equal to an annual interest paying on $625,000 that never can be reduced. Although desirable, it does not promote the sanitation of the afflicted locality from which they are fleeing, or prevent further development of devitalizing conditions in other sections of the city. These are some of the palatial homes on Grand Avenue lately put on the declining market for want of support-Alexander Mitchell, now the Deutscher Club, James Kneeland, three Plankinton homesteads, Captain Pabst’s residence, the Schandein residence, and several others that can be had for far less than the cost.

People who can afford buildings of such size and quality will no longer endure the objectionable conditions which have quietly and steadily grown upon the neighborhood through lack of foresight. A conservative estimate of the depreciation is five million dollars. This is a net loss to the city of $100,000 a year in taxes. This unusual loss to the city might have been prevented by proper care exercised in time. However, we should not blame former administrations for what they may not have been able to comprehend or anticipate. But with this deplorable state of affairs in plain view, how can we expect to be forgiven for not making every effort to prevent a like loss in other localities? Surely here is a condition in which history should not repeat itself.

The next step downward has already begun. Building operations under disguise of improvements are being made to crowd more people on a lot so as to maintain as far as possible the normal income. As the crowding increases the desirability lessens, and unless the city as a whole recognizes its responsibility, slum territories will be the inevitable followers of what was at one time the pride of the west side. Sanitary conditions are growing worse all the time. The waste of humanity, however, will continue to spread beyond such sources of pestilence. They cannot be confined within the boundary line of landlords’ possessions. The chain is no stronger than its weakest link, and our city’s health, physique and moral condition is vitiated as a whole by such cancerous spots.

Although we have suffered this loss of approximating $100,000 a year on the Grand Avenue depreciation, we are, nevertheless, obliged to do, at much greater expense, that which should have been done to prevent this loss. Had this territory been taken by the city and managed as is now proposed to manage the shores of upper Milwaukee River, the Kinnickinnic River and the upper Menomonee River, the city would have received in enhanced taxes an amount equal to its investment, and at the same time, it would have protected the individua1 investors from loss or hardship.

It is now incumbent upon us to prevent the slums of the Fourth Ward from spreading westward to meet the growth of Piggsville in the now reminiscent river at the Blue Mound viaduct. While those who are able to move to more desirable quarters are, as individuals, blame1ess for caring for themselves, the city must not shrink from its responsibility for the protection of the health and property of rich and poor alike. It is imperative that the nuisance of the lower Menomonee be cured, but all of this desirable work cannot be done at once. The cure costs at least four times as much as the prevention. Then will not the public interest be served best by an energetic effort to prevent a repetition of such wasteful circumstances?

Take a walk along the Menomonee Valley from Piggsville to Wauwatosa, and see how surely all that property along Vliet Street to Wauwatosa and west of Washington park will be vitiated in the same way. Likewise the natural residence area along the Blue Mound Road is destined to the same fate if not properly platted, and the natural contour of the land, with its drainage, preserved. What has taken place along the banks of the lower Menomonee has also been repeated on a smaller scale all over the city. What ward of the city has not suffered more or less by such a conflict of interests?”

Robert and His Famous Rules

Anyone that has held a meeting to official standards most likely has followed Robert’s Rules of Order. They even have a website! This has been in book form since 1873 when it was written by Maj. Henry Martyn Robert. Major Robert was a South Carolinian who came to Milwaukee after the Civil War when he was assigned to the Army Corps of Engineers to oversee harbor improvements. Leave it to the long, Milwaukee winters to inspire one to write, even if it isn’t poetry but an extensive rulebook.

Below is an article from the Milwaukee Journal of April 5, 1970 telling the story of Robert’s Rules:

Milwaukee’s Top Seller
The most famous book that ever came out of Milwaukee has just appeared in a new revision. The book is “Robert’s Rules of Order,” and the revision is described by its publisher— Scott, Foresman — as the first major one in 55 years.

It was not quite a century ago that Maj. Henry Martyn Robert of the title began to write out some thoughts on parliamentary procedure. After the Civil War, Robert had come to Milwaukee as an Army engineer concerned with the defense and the improvement of the harbors and light houses of Lake Michigan. He composed his little handbook, he subsequently related, in the winter of 1873-’74 when he “had a few weeks to spare” from his maritime duties.

The Lieutenant Was Embarrassed
The decision to write a simple and practical guide to parliamentary principles grew out of an embarrassment he had suffered during the war. Though he was a South Carolinian by birth, he fought on the Union side.

In 1863, half a dozen years out of West Point, young Lt. Robert was called upon to act as chairman of a meeting of citizens in New Bedford, Mass. The New Bedford whalers were much exercised by Confederate raids on their far ranging ships, and the townspeople gathered in a Baptist church to discuss the matter.

“I plunged in,” Robert wrote later, “trusting that the assembly would behave itself.” On the contrary, the sharp Yankees gave the callow gavel wielder a hard time. Mortified, he set out to learn as much as he could about parliamentary order and put it down briefly and clearly in a single book.

Like many an author before and since, he found publishers less enthusiastic about his project than he was. The big New York house of Appleton promptly rejected the manuscript. Finally he had 4,000 copies “ready printed” at his expense by the Milwaukee job shop of Burdick & Armitage. He talked the Chicago publishing house of C. S. Griggs into having them bound, also at his expense.

About 1,000 copies were given to legislators and others in and out of politics. They found them useful, recommended them to friends, and “Robert’s Rules of Order” was on its way. Its original title was “Pocket Manual of Rules of Order for Deliberative Assembles,” but the publisher printed the other name as a subtitle on the jacket, and that was the one that stuck. The author left Milwaukee in 1878.

2,600,000 Copies and No Paperbacks
Through the years, says the present publisher, the manual has sold well over 2,600,000 copies in seven earlier editions. The new edition has had a first printing of 100,000.

Though Robert died in 1923 (he was then a retired brigadier general), the Robert family has retained a connection with the book and its fortunes. The eighth, current edition was prepared by Mrs. Sarah Corbin Robert, the general’s daughter-in-law, and her son, Henry Martyn Robert III. They had the assistance of James W. Cleary, president of San Fernando State College in California, and William Evans, a Baltimore lawyer and parliamentarian. About three-quarters of the book has been rewritten, so that in its present form it is about twice as long as it was in its previous, 75th anniversary edition.

If a paperback edition had been sanctioned, the sale of the book by this time might be astronomical. But the Robert heirs have insisted that it have hard covers.

Said Henry Martyn Robert III the other day:
“If you use the book as you should, a paperback edition would be worn out in no time.”

More information can be found here.

Thanks for reading!

Bowling History of Windup Lanes

From the West Allis Star of APRIL 29, 1954

Carl Ray Jr is one of the bowlers memorialized in the Milwaukee Bowling Hall of Fame. He recently passed away in December 2019. At the age of 18 he was in the All Star League and at 22 became the manager of the Windup Lanes. The above article states that he started his first Tournament of Champions in 1954 at the Windup Lanes.

Cabaret MKE presents “Cream City Crime Syndicate: Politics & Anarchy.”

Cabaret MKE opens it’s 5th theater season with an original work titled, “Cream City Crime Syndicate: Politics & Anarchy.” The story indeed takes us back to Milwaukee’s socialist heyday with the election of Mayor Daniel Hoan. The country was on the brink of joining the 1st World War, militant factions were active across our country, in fact a local anarchist group accidentally blew up a police precinct killing half the cops on duty, Mayor Hoan kept two body guards on his payroll in light of near daily death threats, and he even had a political arch nemesis by the name of Wheeler P. Bloodgood who was rumored to employ intimidation tactics for his political ends.

Our shows are more than just a play, you could say they’re a play within a play or more precise: a radio play within a radio show. We have always modeled our productions after the old radio variety programs of the 30’s & 40’s complete with a host, house band, jingle singers, period comedy, and real news updates pulled straight from the old headlines.

The show runs November 7,8 14,15 & 21,22 at the Astor Hotel. All shows start at 7:pm with live pre-show music beginning when the doors open at 6:30. Tickets can be purchased online by searching for Cabaret MKE on Tickets are $25, senior and student discounted tickets can be reserved via e-mail at

Milwaukee Public Library Lecture – Cryptosporidium


When Cryptosporidium Struck Milwaukee
Saturday, April 7, 2-3 pm
Centennial Hall, Loos Room
733 N. Eighth St.

In 1993, Cryptosporidium sickened more than 400,000 people in the Milwaukee area. Stores ran out of anti-diarrheal medications and bottled water.

Former Health Commissioner Paul Nannis recalls how Milwaukee successfully met the challenge of overcoming the worst waterborne disease outbreak in U.S. public health history.

Seating is limited. Registration is required by calling 414.286.3011 or online at

Street parking is free on Saturday, but time limits apply.

Old Homes


From an early 20th century German Newspaper. This ad shows a newly built duplex at 1252 25th Street which now has an address of 3052 N. 25th Street. The house is still there but has gone through many changes over the years. The current value of the house isn’t too much more than the price back then.

Hidden History of Milwaukee

Join’s Bobby Tanzilo for a behind-the-scenes tour of Milwaukee’s past. Sail out to the Breakwater Lighthouse, scramble up the wings of the Milwaukee Art Museum and dig up the city’s roots on the corner of Water Street and Wisconsin Avenue. Seize the chance to do a little urban spelunking and explore basilicas, burial grounds and breweries. Ring the bell in the city hall tower, and take a turn around the secret indoor track at a Montessori school. No space is off limits in these untold stories of the Cream City’s most familiar places and celebrated landmarks.

This is Bobby Tanzilo’s latest book about Milwaukee’s history and it pulls together many of the stories he has told in his On Milwaukee columns. He will be on hand to talk about the book and answer questions.

Here is a recent interview from On Milwaukee.

Boswell Books
2559 N. Downer Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
Wednesday May 21, at 7:00 pm

About the Author: Bobby Tanzilo is managing editor at Born and raised in Brooklyn, he moved to Milwaukee when he was 17 and has lived in nearly every neighborhood in the city. He earned a BA-Mass Communication at UW-Milwaukee and is author of The Milwaukee Police Station Bomb of 1917, as well as three other nonfiction books. He lives in Milwaukee with his family, where he serves on the school governance council at his children’s Milwaukee Public School, and is creator of the website,