Articles On Milwaukee, Wisconsin (WI) History, Architecture, Preservation, and Urban Planning... 1998 to Present

with every opportunity taken to mention horses!

 ...From 1998-2006, I wrote many articles for Echo, the newsletter of Historic Milwaukee, Inc., a nonprofit organization. For the 2004-2006 issues, I did the majority of the editing, also. Please send $3 per back issue desired to:
                   Historic Milwaukee, Inc.                    Call 414-277-7795
                   PO Box 511220                                      Email:
                   Milwaukee, WI 53203-0309             Visit:

Gail Fitch — August 28, 2006 — and May 31, 2014

Summer (July) 2006 Echo:
• "When Art Draws Upon History." Artist Lynn Casper recreates historic scenes of Milwaukee and Madison.
• "Preservation is a Daily Drama." A Queen Anne house on Knapp St. was lost, but three other buildings were saved by quick action by Paul Jakubovich and others on the city's historic preservation staff.
• "Updates..." on previous preservation reports, and former Milwaukee Mayor Frank Zeidler, 93, died in July.
• "Milwaukee Points of Interest: South Division Remembered" The old South Division High School's dome now tops the entry to a garden center in Greenfield. South memorabilia is displayed in the store.

Spring (April) 2006 Echo:
This issue includes my short update of some major concerns in preservation. As in all issues of Echo since Winter (January) 2004, I copy-edited many of the articles and did other editorial work, including bringing in articles written by others and obtaining permission to use photos and articles. This was the first issue in which I was credited as co-editor.

Winter (January) 2006 Echo:
"Appreciating Our Houses of Worship."
This article lists the 80-some churches in the City of Milwaukee that are either already on the Local (city) Historic Register or are highly eligible due to their fine architecture, as noted in City of Steeples, a 1996 book published by the city. Photos are by Gail Fitch.

Fall (October) 2005 Echo:
• “Pabst Brewery Complex Offers Historic Potential”
The Pabst complex is familiar, famous, and unique. In whatever developments are planned for it, 17 particular buildings out of 32 will need to be kept in order for Pabst to remain a National Register District. Maps – one distant and one close-up – number the buildings on the seven blocks that Pabst occupies.
• “Local History and Preservation Highlights” include the recovery of 11 paintings that had once belonged to Captain Pabst and had been on display in Milwaukee before the Pabst Brewing Company was sold in the 1980s. Plus, UWM architecture students are restoring a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, and 14 other highlights.
• “Historic Homes for Sale” include the house built by Robert Machek, who was woodworker to royalty.
• “Some Fall Events” included the first annual walk at the Historic Soldier’s Home.

In addition, I edited two articles:
• “White Beers Fizzle in Milwaukee,” part 1 of a series on Milwaukee brewing history by Bob Giese
• “Two Mansions Sold Near Lake,” by Donna Schlieman. One mansion, Federal style and built in 1852, was the home of James S. Brown, a legal prodigy who became the 11 th mayor of Milwaukee in 1861. The other home, where Frederick Goll and family lived, was built in 1898, but resembles a 17 th century English manor house, complete with gargoyles. Mr. Goll became director of the First National Bank of Milwaukee in 1896. (Facts on these homes are from research by Ms. Schlieman and a historic designation study report by Paul Jakubovich, City of Milwaukee, Department of City Development.)

Summer (July) 2005:
"...Preservation Notes":
Three houses were moved, a car struck an old Miller Brewery tavern, a historically honored house on N. 13th St. was razed and the owner of a house near it is sought because someone wants to buy it. Tours of Water Tower Places, the Old Soldiers Home, and the Concordia neighborhood reveal hidden places. Pabst was the largest brewery in America for 72 years. ...along with "Bridge and Historic Home Honored"...Includes 18 photos by the author.

Plus "Media Mentions" (of history and preservation) and "Some Summer Events" include photo exhibts at the Pabst mansion and Milwaukee County Historical Society.

Spring (April) 2005:
• "Milwaukee Historic Preservation Notes":
It was an active winter for civic enlightenment. Two more mainline Protestant churches in Milwaukee closed. UWM class explores church reuse. Holy Rosary Catholic Church loses its steeple. A plan to re-develop the old Pabst Brewery complex may mean the loss of 75% of its unique buildings. The city temporarily halted the plan to allow Walgreens to tear down a the block of National Avenue between 26th & 27th St. Milwaukee changes its "board-up" ordinance; and historic structures can be mothballed. Other topics are demolition, salvaging, and recycling.
• "History & Preservation in the Media": The Avalon Theatre and many other subjects.
• "Spring Events" include a special meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission on April 7 to consider PabstCity.

Winter (January) 2005:

• "Historic Preservation Goes Mainstream -- at the Movies": Preservation is a theme in Two Weeks Notice, 'Til There Was You, and The Notebook.
• "...Preservation Notes": Art memorializes the contribution of mounted police patrols and horse-drawn fire companies; a Milwaukee building is the subject of an HO scale train-layout model. Trinity Lutheran Church will have a glass hall...and other news plus Winter and Spring Events.
• "History and Preservation in the Media": "Historical Places" is a category in the Yellow Pages phone directory...and much more.

Fall (October) 2004:
• “A Busy Season for Preservation”: Gugler Litho was a tough defeat for preservationists. A landmark Wadham's pagoda-style gas station was secretly demolished. More eyes are needed to watch landmarks. Layton Blvd. takes a step to add local historic status to its National Register status. Prospect Hill seeks the tax credits that go with National Register status. Remodeling uncovers glass signs in a 1921 drug store and stencil decoration in an 1895 church. The former Friedens U.C.C. church is for sale.
• “Fall Events, Live and Televised, Provide Insights”: The Fourth Street Forum is televised; Historic Preservation Commission meetings are audio taped. History is made every day.

Summer (July) 2004:
• “Past and Present Come Alive in Milwaukee History Book by HMI”:
Milwaukee Then and Now by Sandra Ackerman compares 70 Milwaukee locations about 70-100 years apart in time. A hardcover, it retails for about $18.
• “Milwaukee's Splendid Churches Merit Saving”: Due to mergers and a swelling congregation, an 1884 church beside Mitchell International Airport is for sale for four million dollars. The south side churches have undergone less change of denominations.
• “Diverse Local Histories Share A Common Thread”: Recent books provide a contrast in “colorful” vs. “posh”: Riverwest: A Community History by Tom Tolan and River Hills: As it is Now and As it Once Was by H. Russell Zimmerman.
• “The Building Bought with a Cookbook and Other Preservation News.” The building that Lizzie Kandor's Settlement Cookbook paid for, and which was once the University School, will be torn down.
• “History & Preservation in the Media”: Will Fellows' book, A Passion to Preserve , and TV shows, “History Detectives” and “Buffalo's Houses of Worship” are among the news.
• “…Summer Events”: continue from spring.

Spring (April) 2004:
• “Splendid Churches Set Milwaukee Apart”:
Sixty-three stand out in the northern half of the city. The turnover of denominations there includes some poignant stories. Four churches are profiled.
• “Preservation Gains Momentum”: The exterior of a Prairie style atmospheric theatre, the Avalon, will be protected, a cottage will be moved in Riverwest, and three other stories.
• “Recent Publications Feature Milwaukee Homes & Preservation News”: A new magazine, Milwaukee Home features tips, trends, and a bit of history. UW-Madison alumni helped restore a Hollywood theatre and apartments where silent film stars once lived. And more.
• “…Spring Events” include “Smart Growth” urban planning seminars at UWM and various
civic meetings.

Winter (January) 2004:
• "When Bad Things Happen to Good Buildings":
Remodeling without a permit resulted in the loss of a 110-year-old church.
• "From Riverwest to Shorewood: Kingo Lutheran Church": The church building that was lost once belonged to a Danish Lutheran congregation that moved to a North Shore neighborhood, but still looks back.
• "The Church Across the Street": When Spiritualism was popular, many seances may have been held at this small church in Riverwest.
• "Improving Historic Neighborhoods: Not Just for Rich People": With federal grant money, Milwaukee has been making its housing projects more like home.
• "Accidentally Rewriting History": The stained glass windows in the St. Joan of Arc Chapel
at Marquette University were restored in the mid-1960s by Enterprise Art Glass Works, Inc., (414) 259-0100.
• "Watch for these Winter/Spring Events": Panel discussions on democracy, urban planning talks at UWM, and preservation meetings are among the coming events.
• "Valuable Artifacts Need A Display Space": The City of Milwaukee needs storage and display space for its collection of millwork from Milwaukee mansions. If you can help, call DCD Commissioner Patricia Algiers at (414) 286-5800 or Redevelopment Authority Director Greg Shelko at (414) 286-5820. Also, a former fire station and the University Club of Milwaukee received historic designation.
• "Recent Publications Feature Milwaukee Architecture & Preservationists"(Compiled with help from Dick Stefanik): American Bungalow magazine has been featuring Milwaukee; Milwaukee churches were pictured in Italian Times and Preservation Magazine; Milwaukee City Life Style magazine covers house tours and other events and features interviews with key people.

Summer/Fall (August) 2003:
     I contributed numerous articles to this 16-page issue that featured five other writers also. My articles are:
• "Concordia Community Brews Up A Fine Tour": A neighborhood once home to beer barons is being restored, house by house. The number of bed & breakfasts in the area around
Our Savior's Lutheran Church, the tour headquarters, may soon soar to five. One is illustrated.
• "Stained Glass Spotlighted": Dr. Annemarie Sawkins describes the European- and American-made stained glass found in Milwaukee churches. The windows in the 500-year-old St. Joan of Arc Chapel at Marquette University were restored in the mid-1960s by Enterprise Art Glass Works, Inc. Dr. Sawkins' lecture was part of the Historic Milwaukee, Inc., Spaces & Traces Tour, which included the North Point Light House, and 11 other east side places.
• "A Century of Light and Color": Churches, mansions, bungalows, and taverns in Milwaukee and the midwest feature art glass windows, doors, transoms, or skylights by Enterprise Art Glass Works, Inc., which is 100 years old this year.
• "How the Historic Preservation Commission Works": The HPC's meetings feature slide shows, discussion with owners/contractors, and public input.
• "Friedens Church Denied Historic Status": The custom of aldermanic priviledge figures in the success or failure of historic designation attempts. Paul Henningsen was still alderman of the downtown (fourth) district until his sentencing on September 26.
• "Church Designations Fare Poorly" when the owner is opposed. (However, 33 Milwaukee houses of worship and one cemetery chapel have been honored with historic status.)
• "Milwaukee Preservation Alliance Launched." The MPA is a city-wide group.
• "Fall Events to Watch" include the Symphony Showhouse, Fourth Street Forum at Turner Hall, Smart Growth (urban planning) Lunch Seminars at UWM, and meetings of Eastbank Neighbors, which is among the many neighborhood groups and churches hosting talks on topics
of civic interest as the elections approach.
• "Historic Preservation Commission Schedule": (It meets monthly at city hall.)

Also, I contributed to:

• "Preservation Cream Rises to the Top": In 2003, Cream City Preservation awards went to companies, organizations, home owners, the Milwaukee Fire Department, and preservation activist Richard Stefanik. Activist Donna Schleiman was similarly recognized in 2002.
• "Structures added to the Local Historic Register from May 2002-May 2003." The nine structures include: St. Mary's Hospital, Bethal Evangelical Church, the Pabst Brewing Company Tavern at 537-41 W. Clarke St., and the United States Coast Guard Station (1915-1916). The buildings so honored can now take full advantage of the city's preservation resources.

Spring (April) 2003:

"Not Always German, Polish, or Catholic: The Story of A South Side Church." Norwegian immigrants began Our Savior's Lutheran Church, with its exceptional story of service to the community. You can't go far in Walker's Point without running into outstanding church architecture, varying from German Lutheran to Irish Catholic, Ukranian Catholic, and Ukranian Orthodox.

Winter (January) 2003:
• "Will An Old Church Be Missed?" Plans are to tear down an 1887 cream city brick church that has belonged to a Baptist congregation since 1959, but would have been a United Methodist church if the original congregation had remained at 21st & Cherry.
• "Road to Recognition Update." Last fall, the former Friedens United Church of Christ made progress toward designation as a City of Milwaukee Historic Structure.
• "Where Nature Meets History." Forest Home Cemetery in Milwaukee rivals Chicago's most prestigious cemetery, Graceland. Silent City by historian John Gurda tells who's buried at Forest Home. Graveyards of Chicago by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski, resembles a travel guide.

Fall (September) 2002:
"The Road to Recognition." This is a first-person account of nominating a building for City of Milwaukee historic designation, and a positive assessment of the city's historic preservation program. I doubt that any city has a better set of books on the subject of historic preservation than Milwaukee does. There are books
on rehabilitating homes and commercial buildings, and also pocket guides to noteworthy residential, church, and commercial buildings. Contact me for details if you are interested in these books.

Winter/Spring (April) 2002:
• "Book Traces 50 Years of Regional Issues." Don't miss Richard W. Cutler's book, Greater Milwaukee's Growing Pains, 1950-2000: An Insider's View. From his 50 years of public service, Mr. Cutler recounts five threads of issues and events affecting quality of life in southeastern Wisconsin: bringing baseball to Milwaukee (twice), municipal boundary wars, transportation planning and freeway development, flooding and pollution, and urban sprawl.

• "Church Suffers Major Fire Damage."

Excerpts: "A fate that should never befall a magnificent building struck a 97-year-old house of worship...late on February 22....The [golden] brown [brick] fortress at 13th and Juneau was home to Friedens United Church of Christ from 1905 to 1986....Architects Anton Dohmen and Jacob Jacobi ....created an aesthetic masterpiece, and if the building is restored, perhaps its beauty will not remain a lost secret."




Fourth Quarter (December) 2001:
"Symphony tour house spotlights Wauwatosa's garden neighborhood." The Pabst brewing family once raised hops and Percherons in what is now The Washington Highlands, a unique Milwaukee neighborhood that for 80 years has blended the best of city and country. One of its homes, which was the 2001 symphony showhouse, is connected with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company.

Third Quarter (August) 2001:
"Stir of Echos: New Jersey 'bash and build' trend distressing." The loss of the Lionel Barrymore home and other historic mansions near New York City is a wake-up call. (Thanks to Hartland collector Joseph Evans for sending the newspaper articles used as sources for this article.)

Second Quarter (May) 2001:
• "Summer tours shine new light on Milwaukee." One-hundred years ago, a vice district thrived near city hall. The Old Soldier's Home was founded to care for the Civil War wounded. Interesting neighborhoods characterize the close-in suburbs of Bay View and Shorewood.
• "Visit 'The Fabulous Ruins of Detroit.'" With photo tours of downtown, industrial, and residential areas dating to Detroit's Gilded Age, this web site makes a strong case for preservation--before it's too late. [Do a key word search for "fabulous Detroit."]

First Quarter (January) 2001:
• "Mansion Tours for Music Link Two Cultural Treasures." The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music celebrated its 100th anniversary in its restored home, the McIntosh-Goodrich mansion built in 1903. The 2000 Milwaukee symphony showhouse was the Georgian mansion built by Dr. Stanley J. Seeger in in River Hills horse country.
• "Images of America recalls an earlier Milwaukee." Photos gathered by Milwaukeean Richard Prestor depict city folk at work and play from the 1860s to 1950s. Images of America: Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is available from the author, the publisher, and in stores.

January/February/March 2000:
• "Uihlein country home offers a glimpse of luxurious leisure." Erwin C. Uihlein loved horses, and spent time at his lakeside estate in Grafton when he wasn't busy with the family business: the Schlitz brewery, whose beer "made Milwaukee famous." The Erwin Uihlein country home was the 1999 Milwaukee symphony showhouse.
• "Tales from Eight Cities: The Old Neighborhood, by Ray Suarez." The long-time host of National Public Radio's "Talk of the Nation" discusses the changes in eight major cities in his book subtitled, What We Lost in the Great Suburban Migration: 1966-1999.

June 1999:
"Prospect Avenue graced with glamorous apartment buildings of a Golden Age." Luxury apartment houses built from 1903-1931 on Prospect Ave., Milwaukee's Gold Coast, gave apartment living respectability in a city oriented toward home ownership.

February 1999:
"Steeples may crumble, but churches remain: Remembering historic downtown churches." Tour includes Catholic, Lutheran, and Episcopal churches, and a 500-year-old chapel relocated from France. The author also relates the history of Friedens U.C.C. Church, 1869-1986, the Protestant congregation whose magnificent, 1905 Gothic Revival sanctuary by architects Anton Dohmen and Jacob Jacobi still stands at 13th and Juneau.

December 1998:
"Echos of past lives uncovered in touring." Kings and movie stars attended parties at Knollward, the Oconomowoc home of Marjorie Montgomery Ward Baker, daughter of the catalog king. Mrs. Baker sometimes had an orchestra play from a floating platform on Lac LaBelle, so it's fitting that Knollward was the 1998 Milwaukee symphony showhouse. In the second part of the article, cemeteries are outdoor halls of records, and Milwaukee's best ones also resemble sculpture gardens.

July 1998:
"East Side history captured through film, photography." Film and memory are wonderful historical resources. When the Oriental Pharmacy closed, Milwaukee's East Side lost a community center. Documentary maker Brooke Maroldi filmed its final month in The Death of the Corner Drugstore. A collection of slides by a local priest, Rev. Frank Yaniak, depicts 40 years of change in the Brady Street neighborhood.

May 1998:
"Spring lectures spotlight home restoration, urban design." Peter Park, City of Milwaukee Planning Director, explains that urban planning is concerned with the overall design of neighborhoods, not just with the architectural styles of individual buildings. Paul Jakubovich, a preservation consultant for the City of Milwaukee and [Wisconsin] State Historical Society, discusses the building materials and styles that have stood the test of time.