Archives for April 2013

May 1 talk features story of influential California architect and his first commission — on Milwaukee’s East Side

A Milwaukee couple has become experts on an historic E. Kenwood Blvd. home in more ways than one – restoring the 1899 structure, which they live in, and writing about its architect, who later became renowned working in California.

Chris Szczesny-Adams, associate professor of Art History at MIAD, and Christopher L. Adams, CEO at Dominion LLC, will discuss her research on Elmer Grey, the architect of their home, the Frederick R. Buell Residence, and his work on the restoration of their property, both inside and out, at 7 p.m. Wednesday May 1.

According to Wikipedia:

Grey designed many noted landmarks in Southern California, including the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Huntington Art Gallery, the Pasadena Playhouse and Wattles Mansion. He is credited with being one of the pioneers in the development of the new American architecture in the early 20th century, with a focus on harmony with nature and eliminating features not belonging to the local climate and conditions. Grey was also a noted artist whose paintings are in the permanent collection of the Chicago Art Institute.

Born in Chicago but raised in Milwaukee, Grey joined Milwaukee’s Ferry & Clas (designers of the Central Library and Pabst Mansion) after completing high school.

Buell Residence, 1905, from Inland Architect

Buell Residence, 1905, from Inland Architect

Buell Residence today

Buell Residence today

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He started to work on his own 1898. In that year, he designed his first building, a house he built for himself as a country retreat on the Lake Michigan shore in Fox Point. The American Institute of Architects made him a Fellow based on that design.

Elmer Grey cottage, Fox Point

Elmer Grey cottage, Fox Point

Beverly Hills Hotel

Beverly Hills Hotel

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

His first paid commission was the next year for the Frederick Buell Residence at 2726 E. Kenwood Blvd., the home now belonging to Szczesny-Adams and Adams.

Grey completed other transitional Prairie School designs during his next four years of practice in Milwaukee. Grey moved on and spent the majority of his career in Pasadena completing well over 100 works and was singled out frequently by Gustav Stickley’s Craftsman magazine.

Elmer Grey (1872-1963)

Elmer Grey (1872-1963)

Buell living room and parlor, House Beautiful (February 1900)

Buell living room and parlor, House Beautiful (February 1900)

Chris Szczesny-Adams’ current research is on architect Elmer Grey and his transitional arts and crafts designs from the 1900s in the Midwest to his bungalow designs of Southern California.

Christopher L. Adams, CEO at Dominion LLC, is a former Cream of Cream City award winner. Dominion LLC is a private company that invests in mixed-use and residential real estate and recently completed renovations on the multi-family apartments on Belleview and Lake.

The talk takes place at 7 p.m. Monday May 1 in the Marcia Coles Community Room, which is in the lower level of Lake Park Pavilion. HWTN will hold its monthly business meeting after the talk. The talk and meeting are free and open to the public.

– Jeff Bentoff

Alexander C. Eschweiler, designer of HWTN homes and iconic Milwaukee buildings

Alexander C. Eschweiler, the architect of many landmark historic Milwaukee buildings, also designed several notable mansions in and around the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood — including homes for himself and his mother.

The list of Milwaukee buildings designed by Eschweiler or the firm he founded includes downtown’s Wisconsin Gas Building with its famed weather flame, the Wisconsin Telephone Building on N. Broadway, the Milwaukee Arena and the John Mariner Building (now Hotel Metro).

Eschweiler also designed four 1911-1912 buildings on the Milwaukee County Grounds constructed originally for the Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy. They are now threatened with potential demolition, and preservationists are working to save the buildings.

2409 N. Wahl Ave. Photo by David Hay Jones / http://www.livemilwaukee.org/index.htm

2409 N. Wahl Ave. Photo by David Hay Jones

Work by Eschweiler in the HWTN includes the Robert Nunnemacher Residence, 2409 North Wahl Ave.; Edward G. Cowdery House (also known as the Albert C. Elser House), 2743 North Lake Dr.; John Murphy House, 2030 E. Lafayette Pl.; Victor L. Brown House, 2690 N. Lake Dr.; Frank Ward Smith House, 2405 E. Wyoming Pl.; Hayes-Friend House, 2651 N. Summit Ave.Alexander Chadbourne Eschweiler House, 2810 E. Bradford Ave. (his own home); and Hannah Lincoln Chadbourne Eschweiler House, 2825 N. Hackett Ave. (which he designed for his widowed mother).

Former Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer Whitney Gould, in a story discussing Eschweiler’s life, career and impact on Milwaukee, said that his “work for Milwaukee’s movers and shakers a century ago left a lasting imprint on east side neighborhoods and shaped our civic identity. So powerful was his influence that even today, ‘living in an Eschweiler’ is almost akin to owning a Rembrandt.”

EschweillerAccording to his Wikipedia profile, Eschweiler was born in Boston and opened his practice in Milwaukee in 1892. In 1923, sons Alexander C. Eschweiler Jr., Theodore and Carl joined him at the firm, which was renamed Eschweiler & Eschweiler. The senior Eschweiler died in 1940.

Buildings he or his firm designed just outside the HWTN boundaries include the Charles Allis House, 1801 N. Prospect Avenue (now the Charles Allis Art Museum), the Elizabeth Black Residence, 1537 N. Prospect Ave.; and on the current University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus, the Thomas A. Greene Memorial Museum and the Milwaukee-Downer “Quad” on the NW corner of Hartford and Downer Aves.

Thomas Eschweiler, a grandson of the elder Alexander Eschweiler, and Thomas’ wife Gabrielle, were longtime members of HWTN. They lived in a 1925 home at 2659 N. Terrace Ave. that was designed by Thomas’ father, Alexander C. Eschweiler Jr. Like his father and grandfather, Thomas also was an architect, and he joined the family firm, later working as director of construction for Milwaukee Public Schools and founding the Wisconsin Architectural Archives. After his death at age 90 in 2012, his memorial service was held at the Charles Allis Art Museum, which his grandfather designed.

Many Eschweiler buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and are part of Milwaukee preservation districts.

– Jeff Bentoff

 

HWTN supports keeping Montessori programming at Maryland Avenue School

HWTN’s Board of Trustees on April 3 voted unanimously urge the Milwaukee Public Schools to keep the area’s popular and successful Maryland Avenue Montessori School as a district Montessori school.

mpsprincipals_fullsize_story1In a letter sent to School Board Vice President Larry Miller, who is the HWTN area’s representative, and Superintendent Gregory Thornton, HWTN President Lloyd Dickinson wrote:

“The current Montessori program at Maryland Avenue is a success for students, parents and the neighborhood. Removing Montessori programming from Maryland would reverse these successes.

“While MPS explores options to address overcrowding at the school, we request that the district only consider those alternatives that would keep Montessori programming at Maryland Avenue School. As an organization dedicated to historic preservation, we also support keeping this landmark and historically significant school building in productive use as a school for the benefit of students and the neighborhood.”

To deal with overcrowding at the school, MPS is considering options that include shutting down the Montessori program at Maryland and moving it to another school. HWTN instead supports keeping Maryland as a Montessori school and addressing overcrowding through one of a number of better options being discussed.

Students and parents in the popular Maryland Montessori program have strong connections to our neighborhood, and the school has been one of higher-performing schools in MPS.

The beautiful and landmark Maryland Avenue School was designed by Henry Koch, architect of City Hall, and built in 1887. Education at this site has a long history — Maryland Avenue School replaced the two-room First District Branch School, which was built in 1872.

First District Branch School

First District Branch School