Marker Logo HMdb.org THE HISTORICAL
MARKER DATABASE
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Milwaukee in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
 

Historic Milwaukee

West Wisconsin Avenue

 
 
Historic Milwaukee Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
1. Historic Milwaukee Marker
Inscription. In 1893, Milwaukee held a national competition to select architects for the city’s first public library and museum (now the Central Library). The prominent local firm Ferry and Clas was chosen. The resulting design reflected an emerging national trend toward monumental classical public buildings in the eclectic manner of the Ecole des Beaux-Arts.

Built in 1895-99, the original U-shaped structure had an open court on the north end. Subsequent additions over the next 50 years doubled the library’s size while retaining the original form and beauty of its principal historic façades.

The building, listed on local, state and national registers of historic places, is constructed of Bedford Indiana limestone. A large coffered dome rises above an entrance rotunda with an intricate mosaic floor and marble staircases.

St. James Episcopal Church, which is also listed on local, state and national registers of historic places, is said to be Milwaukee’s oldest limestone church. The English Gothic Revival structure was built in 1867-68.

A disastrous fire in 1872 left only the stone walls, spire, bells and north windows standing. The architect’s plans were used to rebuild the church in 1873-74. Of note are two signed Tiffany windows in the fourth bay off the east aisle.

The church was built on the
Historic Milwaukee Marker image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
2. Historic Milwaukee Marker
reverse side with area map
site of an old cemetery. While bodies were moved to Forest Home Cemetery, a few burial mounds and tombstones remain in the unfinished basement.

Alexander Mitchell, a member of the church and the building committee, is said to have donated one-third of the original construction cost. When Mitchell’s niece was married at St. James, the story goes, Mitchell had a rose-covered bridge built over Wisconsin Avenue between the church and his family mansion (now the Wisconsin Club) so guests would not soil their wedding finery in the muddy street.

St. James Court apartments was built in 1903, designed by the Ferry and Clas architects, who also designed the Central Library. The Neoclassical luxury apartments were home to many well-known Milwaukeeans, including one of the architects, Alfred C. Clas. The building is a rare example of a multi-unit residential building by a firm better know for its luxurious single family dwellings, imposing commercial blocks and grand public buildings.
 
Location. 43° 2.335′ N, 87° 55.335′ W. Marker is in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in Milwaukee County. Marker is at the intersection of West Wisconsin Avenue and North 8th Street, on the right when traveling west on West Wisconsin Avenue. Touch for map. Located in front of Milwaukee Central Library. Marker
Upper left photo image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
3. Upper left photo
The Central Library and surroundings in the 1920s-30s. The beginning of Milwaukee’s experimentation with “City Beautiful” planning concepts can be traced to the siting and design of the library.
is at or near this postal address: 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee WI 53233, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Central Library (a few steps from this marker); Saint James Court (within shouting distance of this marker); a different marker also named Historic Milwaukee (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Milwaukee's Last Operating Tower Clock (about 600 feet away); MacArthur Square (approx. 0.2 miles away); Mabel Wanda Raimey (approx. 0.2 miles away); Indian Village Site (approx. 0.2 miles away); Roman Catholic Church of the Gesu (approx. ¼ mile away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Milwaukee.
 
Also see . . .  A history of St. James Episcopal Church. (Submitted on June 15, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin.)
 
Categories. Notable Buildings
 
Close up of lower peft photos image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
4. Close up of lower peft photos
Left photo: George Washington, in the Court of Honor, watches over the library from his vantage point in the center of this photo. The totem pole, on the left, moved with the Public Museum when it relocated to new quarters in the mid 1960s. Right Photo: This photo of the Central Library entrance rotunda highlights its oft-photographed coffered ceiling as well as the marble columns and balcony overlooking the Wisconsin Avenue entrance.
Upper right photo image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
5. Upper right photo
Here’s a unique photograph of the Central Library rotunda showing children engaged in a Saturday afternoon book party.
Lower Right Photo image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
6. Lower Right Photo
St. James Episcopal Church in 1895. Listed on the Local, State and National Registers of Historic Places. It is Milwaukee’s oldest surviving Episcopal Church.
Milwaukee Central Library image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
7. Milwaukee Central Library
St. James Episcopal Church image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 8, 2012
8. St. James Episcopal Church
St. James Court Apartments image. Click for full size.
By Paul Fehrenbach, June 12, 2012
9. St. James Court Apartments
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016. This page originally submitted on June 14, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 426 times since then and 28 times this year. Photos:   1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. submitted on June 14, 2012, by Paul Fehrenbach of Germantown, Wisconsin. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.
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