Archives for April 2013

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 /

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