Do You Remember?


This is another article in the series written by Frederic Heath in the Milwaukee Leader newspaper during 1920-1921.


The map below shows a red dot from where the photo was taken, looking north across the river. To the left of the dot is the original Reed Street Union Depot. Some of the street names have obviously been changed: Reed Street is South 2nd Street, Lake Street is Pittsburgh Avenue

The Milwaukee Leader – June 1, 1920

Do You Remember?

By Frederic Heath

Thanks to an early day fire we have the accompanying view of the old Axtell house and the old Walker’s Point wooden bridge. The fire gutted the buildings west of the old hotel and even caught on the hotel cornice, but damaged it but slightly. It was quite the habit for photographers to get to work in those days when there had been a fire, hence the picture.

The hotel center of Milwaukee has moved about a good deal since the earliest days. When the few who visited the town came over the trails the hotels were confined principally to the east and west sides: that is, there was the original Cottage Inn on East Water St., the Bellevue house, at Broadway and Wisconsin Sts., and the Cabbage Hollow house on the east side, all situated close by the end of the Sauk Trail, and the American House, formerly Tavern, over in Kilbourntown.

When steamers and schooners began to bring settlers and merchandise, and finally when piers were run out in the lake to save transferring the cargoes and passengers to little tow boats, Huron St. was the big street and the east side had the hotel monopoly. This died away when the railroads came in – or were “built out” from Milwaukee – and the depots were located principally on the south side. The histories of the day refer to the Axtell house as the “favorite hotel with the traveling public” and there were numerous other south side establishments.

The Axtell was built in 1860 and was enlarged in 1872. It was built by William Axtell. He had been the manager of the Clinton house, then the big south side hotel, and later went to California for his health. On returning, he joined with Richard B. Ricketson in conducting the Cream City house at Ferry and South Water Sts. Meantime he erected the Axtell Blk., diagonally across the corner, and when the Cream City was unable to accommodate its entire patronage he turned the new block into a hotel. The Cream City afterward became the Ricketson house.

When the union depot was relocated on the west side, the south side hotels withered up like mushrooms, and today there is hardly a vestage left. The row of small hotels across from the old depot on Reed St. have been wiped out of existence and replaced by cold storage and agricultural implement buildings. The life and bustle of Reed St. is gone. The old Lake house on Lake St., is no more and the old Metropolitan on Hanover and Florida Sts., was long ago turned into a railway men’s YMCA.

The Cabbage Hollow house referred to was as unpretentious as it was early. Cabbage Hollow was, as its name implies, not a gully. It was a gentle depression that deepened as it approached the river and reached level ground at about the middle of Jefferson St., between Biddle and Martin. The origin of its name would appear to be obvious.

Do You Remember Schlitz Park?

This is another article in the series written by Frederic Heath in the Milwaukee Leader during 1920-1921. I posted a few others earlier this year and will post more later on.

Schlitz Park at North 8th & W. Brown has gone through many name changes over the years and is now known as James W. Beckum Park. The hill mentioned in the article remains, one of the only reminders of the park’s past. Many of the other parks mentioned were scattered around the older parts of the city and have either become public parks or have been sold and developed. Shooting Park has become Clinton Rose Park on King Drive and Burleigh.

Milwaukee Leader, March 24, 1920



The Milwaukee public park system put the private parks and beer gardens into the discard, but any valued memories remain of the private gardens, and in many ways they played an important part in Milwaukee’s history. There was Quentin’s park, Shooting park (now Pabst park), Miller’s garden, Milwaukee garden, National park (Bielfeld’s garden), etc. Outside the first two, these are all gone.

Quentin’s park became Schlitz park, and is now the city’s Lapham park. Here are a few other old time gardens, just to revive your memories: Johannesburg garden, (Ninth and Galena), Rose Hill park, Little Paris (Klein Paris), Schneider’s park (35th & Vliet) where the Socialist-Democrats held their first picnic, Neumiller’s park, and so on. Quentin’s is recalled as it was when it became Schlitz park, and particularly in the early 80’s when the Schlitz park theater was at the zenith of its well deserved fame.


Through the summer comic operas and the like were given, under Otto Osthoff, as lessee, by companies of the best obtainable artists, and it had the town virtually at its feet.

Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operas, Pinafore – which ridiculed the British navy – Pirates of Penzance, full of beautiful melodies, etc., had just burst into a world-sweeping fame. Billie Taylor, The Mascot, Chimes of Normandy, Olivette and others ranking second to the Sullivan operas, were also given, with The Bohemian Girl for good measure. Digby Bell, Milwaukee born, came to the park with Orpheus and Euridice, and scored tremendously. James Peake was one of the Park Opera Co. stars.

In those days the street railways ran open side step cars in summer, with seats running clear across.


But the park opera had its day and waned out. Many other attractions came to the park and even minstrel companies, and it was the scene of many a Labor day picnic, nationality picnics, band concerts, and political mass meetings.

The park hill still remains, and it is an interesting fact that early day historians always claimed it was an artificial eminence, heaped up by Indians in the uncharted past. There was an observatory on top of it from which in later years a huge flashlight swept the city. The old pavilion, refreshment room, bowling alleys and veranda drinking tables, near the Eighth street entrance, was torn down some years ago.

Do You Remember Newspaper Row?

The Milwaukee County Historical Society had a photo on their blog not too long ago showing Mason Street looking west of Broadway taken during the 1880’s. The exact same photo was used in this article from the Milwaukee Leader explaining the history of Newspaper Row. This was another article in the series by Frederic Heath on Milwaukee’s early history.

DO YOU REMEMBER? Newspaper Row Back in the ’80s

Milwaukee Leader, February 19, 1920

To about 1910, Milwaukee still had a newspaper row. It was located on Mason St., below Broadway. Many newspapers were born there, nursed at the usual terrific expense and then sent upon their way. Some died aborning and some scarcely survived teething time.

In the accompanying view, this portion of Mason St. is shown as it looked in the late ’80s. About all that remains intact today is the building at the corner in the left side of the picture, now the home of the Kuryer Polski, and the old Kirby house at the corner of East Water St. Across from the Kirby is he old Brodhead Blk., now replaced by the First National Bank skyscraper.

Papers Combine.

The Kuryer Polski building formerly was the home of the German Herold. The building was erected by the publisher, W.W. Coleman, who was an able man in his line, and built up a tremendous business with many different editions and auxiliary publications. His greatest competition came from the Germania of George Brumder, then published at West Water and Cedar Sts. Eventually the papers were consolidated.

Next to the Herold Bldg. is seen the old Sentinel Bldg. In its business office for years one of the head clerks was William George Bruce, secretary of the Commerce Association. Editors and reporters were on the second floor and the printers on the top floor.

Across the street with the old Daily News office – not the Daily News of more modern times, but the Democratic organ of which Col. E.A. Calkins was for a time editor. A door or so further east was the old See Bote building, P.V. Deuster’s establishment.

Fight Changes Names.

A famous newspaper fight of those days transformed The News into the Republican and News, with Horace Rubins as editor, and eventually “got” The Sentinel, the name of which was changed for a time by the consolidation to Republican and Sentinel. From the old Republican and News office, across the street, Dr. E.W. Magan, as editor, issued a small afternoon daily called The Daily Dispatch, but it did not live long.

On the same side of the street, across the alley further west, where Marnits the Tailor now is located, there was located the Sunday Telegraph, started by Calkins and with which Col. J.A. Watrous was later identified. The type was set on its own premises on the second floor and the printing done in the basement of the Herold Bldg.

A door or two west of The Telegraph Bldg, with the old Freie Presse Bldg, a paper that is now but a memory, along with its editor, whose name was Siegl.

Old Haunts Recalled

Next to the See Bote office was the old Kahlo saloon, a veritable newspaper man’s home, while at the corner, seen at the right side of the picture, there was the old Quiet House of Adam Roth, also a haunt for newspaper men. On the top floor the Press Club had its quarters in those days. The building is now replaced by a high structure.

The list of newly born newspapers would not be complete without mention of The Daily Journal. It first saw the light from a room near the corner of The Herold, or Kuryer Polski Bldg., the windows of which appear in the picture. Lute Nieman, former managing editor of The Sentinel, was the editor, and the financial angel was Mike Kraus. Nieman and his assistant, William Bowdish, sat about a long table, grinding out as sensational yellow stuff as their imagination permitted, and the paper had a tough reputation during the time it was “catching on.” How Nieman and Bowdish managed to live has never been explained. Later on, Niemann married into a wealthy family and The Journal became very respectable.

Times Have Changed

Mason St. o’ nights is tame and quiet now, but in the real days of Newspaper Row it was noisy with printers, racing printer devils, clattering mail wagons, boys with handcarts filled with mail bags and reporters darting about or foregathering in the establishments already named. It was the ceaseless clank of old style newspaper presses, and over all the smell of printers ink that is anise to the nostrils of the newspaper man.

But all this is gone. Newspaper Row is scattered. The city is big and newspaper methods have changed.

Broadway & Wells Early Brick Houses

Milwaukee Leader – July 7, 1920

Frederic Heath

The early day homes and business stores that were clustered at Oneida St. and Broadway, across from the central police station, have been torn down and a large auto supply house is being built on the site, the site runs clear to the alley on Oneida and a quarter of a block on Broadway.

These old buildings are shown in the accompanying illustration and particularly the odd little two-story brick house on the corner has occasioned much speculation as to its past history, some persons contending that it was at one time used by a city court. This is an error.

The corner house was built by Williams Lee in 1844. It was the sixth brick residence erected in Milwaukee. The bricks that were used were made at the intersection of Muskego Ave. and Madison St. and could truly be called original cream city brick. Lee lived in the residence for many years and raised a family there. Recently when the corner was excavated, two extensive brick-arched tunnels were found running under the Broadway sidewalk, large enough to suggest use by some early brewery. But they were not for such a purpose but the northerly one was made the opening of a great vein of spring water, that ran obliquely toward Oneida St. and thence across the present Pereles corner to the center of the city hall (Market) square, where for many years, in there earlier days, there was located the town pump. This pump supplied water for a great many residents even from the west side of the river. The other vault was for provisions.

What do you imagine Lee paid for having the brick laid for his residence? He paid $3.75 a thousand, as is vouched for by his son, who is a prominent member of the Old Settlers’ club. In those days there was a heavy Irish immigration to Milwaukee and Lee Sr., employed a large gang of men with wheelbarrows to help grade down a ridge of land that skirted his property on the west is well as all along the adjoining district, and to fill up a deep and wide depression, called a kettle hole in those days.

Later Lee sold parts of his holdings on Oneida St. to others, among them William Harper, the early day painter and wallpaper man. The Harper shop was there until recent years. After the Lee occupancy the corner house was used by various tenants and Robert Schilling lived there at one time. Latterly, as shown in the picture, the front was given a show window and a china decorator used it.

Williams Lee was from Chester, Mass., and opened a saddlery store at 413 East Water St. Later he had his store at 85-87 Wisconsin St. Finally his business was removed to the United States hotel, East Water and Huron Sts. in the store next to the corner entrance on East Water St., and was notable for the figure of a horse on a pole in front of the store. He occupied his corner dwelling as late as 1881.

Do You Remember Frederic Heath?

Milwaukee Socialists were multitalented and interesting people. They were very well-read, knowledgeable, and studied history because if you understood the mistakes of the past you could better avoid them in the future.

Frederic Heath was one of these people in Milwaukee who was a leader and teacher and generally talented man. He was very involved in the Socialist movement of the turn of the century. The Wikipedia article explains many of his accomplishments. He wrote tremendously for the Milwaukee Leader newspaper, including this series from 1920 about short topics of Milwaukee history, called “Do You Remember?” He researched and wrote these daily. As I looked through a month’s worth of microfilmed newspaper, it was amazing to find all these little detailed nuggets of Milwaukee history that he uncovered.

The following article about the Prairie Street school which still exists as the Best Place in the Pabst City complex was published in the Milwaukee Leader of April 9, 1920.