When writing my book, "Historic Milwaukee Public Schoolhouses," I recounted the story of the buildings that have been key players in educating Milwaukee children since the mid-1800s.
I made no bones about it, though, when it came to focusing on specific places. I especially love the buildings built in the waning decades of the 19th century. From the late 1870s through the turn of the century, the cream of Milwaukee's architectural crop was designing the city's schools: Henry Koch, Edward Townsend Mix, Ferry and Clas, Walter Holbrook, George Ehlers, Mollerus and Lotter, Schnetzky and Liebert.
So, you'll be unsurprised to see special attention paid to Koch schools like Eighth Street, Garfield Avenue, Eighteenth Street, Kagel and Golda Meir; to Schnetzky and Liebert's Fifth Street, Walnut Street and Maryland Avenue Schools; Mix's Dover Street and Wells Street Junior High; Holbrook's Trowbridge, McKinley and Mound Street buildings.
But I know a lot of teachers and school administrators and many of them work in places I didn't include. Whenever they mention one such building, I suggest â€“ jokingly? â€“ that I needed to save some gems for volume two.
Anyway, here are some places I didn't mention that might make a foundation for a second book ... someday.
James Whitcomb Riley, 2201 S. 7th St., on the South Side. I have a neighbor who teaches there and it's my grandmother's alma mater. This red brick building was built in 1916 and it looks a lot like the many other schools built in Milwaukee during this era. It's small, with a flat roof and a lovely decorative band that runs between the roofline and the second story windows. The story of how buildings of this period took on this simpler, more utilitarian look â€“ but still with an eye to attractive detail â€“ is worth deeper discussion. A building like Hartford Avenue School would work in this chapter, too, as would a 1930s era art deco gem like Tippecanoe (now Howard Avenue Montessori).
Humboldt Park School was built in 1929, replacing an earlier building on the site at Adams and Euclid. That earlier building was annexed by MPS in 1925 and by 1927 it had an enrollment over 500 and it was already clear to the district that, in the words of an MPS publication of the day, "the building has long outgrown its usefulness and will have to be replaced by a new building in the near future." Its replacement is a red brick building with an imposing tower and great stonework above one of the entrances. A few years ago, the school greened a chunk of its sea of concrete playground. Story School â€“ in the shadow of Miller Brewing â€“ was built six years later and is worth a deeper look, too.
Alexander Mitchell School. Built in 1894, Mitchell School on South 23rd Street, is right in my wheelhouse. It's lovely and I'm sorry, in retrospect, that I only mentioned it in passing. I'm not sure who the architect is, though I know that George Ehlers did an addition to it a short time after it was constructed. Third Street School â€“ later Victor Berger and now MLK â€“ is another survivor of this era that deserved a little more coverage than it got. A tad later, there's Fratney and Clarke Street Schools. If there's another book, I promise a deeper look at all of these.
Ninety-Fifth Street, Clement Avenue and Milwaukee Spanish Immersion (previously 55th Street) Schools. In the book, which pretty much ends at the close of the 1940s, I describe a number of schools built off the same plans. If "volume two" brings things more up to the current day, there will be other examples of twins and triplets. The first two of these three buildings, which are more or less identical, were built in 1953. Fifty-fifth Street was erected the following year.
There's more, of course, but I can't show my entire hand this early in the game, can I?
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Dec. 18, 2013
After a pair of public meetings about a plan to create housing for teachers at the former Dover Street School in Bay View, the school board will take up an administration recommendation at Thursday's meeting to move forward with the plan and sell the building for $350,000.
Published Dec. 18, 2013
Two veterans of the local scene - Jerry Bakkus and Rob Ison - have a new band nearing the release of its debut EP. The Clement, which performs Saturday, Dec. 21 at Kochanski's Concertina Beer Hall with its members' former band The Everyday Motive, is knee-deep in writing and recording, but we caught up with them to find out who they are and what makes their music tick.
Published Dec. 17, 2013
Tis the season for opening your hearts and helping out around town. One way you can do that is to help a teacher in a classroom. I don't mean in person - though you can do that at many schools, of course. Instead, consider doing something like donating materials to a classroom at your child's school, your neighborhood school or a school to which you feel some sort of connection (you went there, your mom went there, etc.).
Published Dec. 16, 2013
It's been a decade since Milwaukee hip-hop group Black Elephant was at its peak, riding the wave of being the most recognized rap outfit in town. The group no longer exists, but former member Derrick Harriell has only accelerated the pace of his skills as a wordsmith. Harriell recently published his second book of poetry, "Ropes" - in which he draws inspiration from boxing - and we connected with him to talk about it and his career.
Published Dec. 14, 2013
Last year, there was a treasure trove of literature on Wisconsin history and themes around the holidays and this year, it seems, there's even more out there. Here are a few nuggets that will please the Sconnie-minded on your holiday gift-giving list.
Published Dec. 13, 2013
It seems like there are more guitars in Milwaukee this week than ever before, what with the opening of Distinctive Guitar is Bay View, the new Beyond Eleven location in the Third Ward and the addition of a slew of cool axes at Discovery World.
Published Dec. 12, 2013
Next week DCD Commissioner Rocky Marcoux and Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs will host a charette - which is a 75-cent word for an intensive architectural or development planning meeting - aimed at kickstarting development at a number of sites in the Bronzeville neighborhood. A June charette produced an exciting plan for the old Fifth Street School.
Published Dec. 12, 2013
Guitar shops are quite literally on the move in Milwaukee these days. As Distinctive Guitar was getting ready to open in Bay View, a local guitar vendor that got its start on the internet was getting settled in new digs in the Third Ward. Beyond Eleven - which spent about two years in a location on Rawson Avenue in Oak Creek after founder Scott Hrdlicka launched it online in 2006 - has moved its bricks and mortar shop to 318 N. Milwaukee St., in the Third Ward.
Published Dec. 11, 2013
A job posting on the Uber web site suggests the quick, easy and hassle-free taxi-summoning app is looking to expand to Milwaukee.
Published Dec. 11, 2013
Pattaya Thai, 9201 W. Center St., is open and folks in the surrounding neighborhoods have been checking it out. The buzz I've heard is that it's good, so I went over for a taste.