Milwaukee Architecture

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Tour Maps

The East Side of Downtown has many historic and significant buildings. Here's a map of the area (Adobe Acrobat, .pdf format) to help you locate buildings, and perhaps plan a walking tour. You can print it and take it along.

Cream City Brick

Milwaukee is sometimes called the "Cream City." This isn't a reference to the dairy industry, but rather to the color of the brick used to build many early buildings. The particular type of clay found in the area was heavily used in 1800s and early 1900s brickmaking. The creamy color was in big demand, not only in Milwaukee but around the midwest and beyond. Some Cream City brick buildings are now a bit dirty, but many have been cleaned and some painted. As you tour the city you'll see many of them. The Blatz Brewery Residences is one.

Harp Lights

For many years these decorative Harp Lights served as street lights for the City of Milwaukee and some suburbs. Now almost extinct, replicas (shown here, from AmeriLite) now dot various neighborhoods. Some can be seen near the Milwaukee School of Engineering on Kilbourn Avenue near Jefferson Street.

Historic Milwaukee Inc.

Historic Milwaukee Inc. is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting interest in Milwaukee buildings and the city's past. They offer guided tours and sell a cassette audio tape for self-directed tours.

Cyril Colnik

Colnik was chosen to do elaborate wrought iron work on many fine Milwaukee homes and commercial buildings. For example, see Villa Terrace.

Prospect Avenue

Prospect Avenue was originally nicknamed Milwaukee's Gold Coast -- a reference to the many stately mansions that once lined its lake front miles. Now it's a collection of structures from many eras. See the following addresses (in chronological order): 1201, 1229-31, 1841, 1584, 1541, 2101, 1930, 2150, 1260, 1609, 1660.

In the Press

The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel newspaper has many interesting stories about Milwaukee architecture. Look, particularly, for writings by Whitney Gould. This Milwaukee Architecture site has been featured in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and also Milwaukee Magazine. Thanks! Glad you like it.


Certain names keep appearing again and again as one studies Milwaukee buildings. The buildings mentioned below are attributable either to the firm shown or to a derivative organization.

   Eschweiler & Eschweiler

      1897 James K. Ilsley House
      1901 Elizabeth Black Residence
      1902 Milwaukee Gas Light Co. West Side Works
      1905 Milwaukee-Downer College Buildings
      1909 Charles Allis Art Museum
      1912 Milwaukee County Grounds School Buildings (Wauwatosa)
      1930 Wadhams Oil Co. Filling Station
      1930 Wisconsin Gas Building
      1930 Wisconsin Telephone Building
      1931 Emanuel L. Philipp School
      1937 Hotel Metro (John Mariner Building)
      1946 MSOE Student Life & Campus Center
      1950 Milwaukee Arena

   Ferry & Clas

      1887 Women's Club of Wisconsin Clubhouse
      1888 E.D. Adler Residence
      1890 Captain Frederick Pabst Mansion
      1890 Forest Home Cemetery Chapel
      1892 First Unitarian Church
      1893 Steinmeyer Building
      1897 Milwaukee Central Public Library
      1898 Fred T. Goll Residence
      1906 Northern Trust Bank
      1906 Gustave G. Pabst Mansion
      1907 Emil H. Ott Residence
      1909 Cudahy Tower
      1909 Milwaukee Theater (Auditorium)
      1916 Old U.S. Coast Guard Station
      1928 Tripoli Shrine Temple

   Henry Koch

      1870 Calvary Presbyterian Church
      1883 Turner Hall
      1893 Pfister Hotel
      1893 Roman Catholic Church of the Gesu
      1895 Milwaukee City Hall
      1901 Wells Building

   Edward Townsend Mix

      1860 Bowman Block & Bowman's Row
      1860 Matthew Keenan Townhouse
      1869 National Soldier's Home (Wood, WI)
      1869 All Saints Episcopal Cathedral Complex
      1873 Alexander Mitchell Mansion (alterations)
      1867 St. James Episcopal Church
      1874 Immanuel Presbyterian Church
      1875 Dr. Henry Button House
      1875 Robert Patrick Fitzgerald House
      1876 Mitchell Building
      1879 Grain Exchange Building (Mackie Building)
      1883 Milwaukee Club
      1884 St. Paul's Episcopal Church
      1889 Wisconsin Consistory

   Martin Tullgren (father) and Herbert Tullgren (son)

      1920 Astor Hotel
      1924 Shorecrest Hotel
      1925 Watts Building
      1927 Bertelson Building
      1929 Water Street Parking Tower
      1930 Armory Courts Building (Shorewood)
      1930 Hathaway Tower
      1931 Viking Apartments
      1934 Northwestern Hanna Fuel Company Building
      1936 Wisconsin Consistory
      1937 Badger Mutual Insurance Co.
      1938 1260 Apartment Building

   Russell Barr Williamson

      1922 Dr. Thomas Robinson Bours House
      1922 Russell Barr Williamson House (Whitefish Bay)
      1925 Eagles Club
      1930 1609 North Prospect Apartments

   Frank Lloyd Wright

      1916 Frederick C. Bogk House
      1916 Arthur L. Richards Houses
      1917 Arthur L. Richards House (Shorewood)
      1948 Albert Adelman House (Fox Point)
      1956 Joseph Mollica House (Bayside)
      1961 Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church (Wauwatosa)