Little-known architects of HWTN featured in M Magazine

What do the architects of the Story Hill neighborhood, Downtown’s Rock Bottom Brewery building and the Beverly Hills Hotel have in common? They all designed magnificent homes in the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood.

Milwaukee's forgotten architects M Magazine March 2014 FINALHWTN’s VP of Communications and Former President Jeff Bentoff recently wrote about the architects of the three buildings — respectively Perce Schley, Max Fernekes and Elmer Grey — for  M Magazine.

Read the article and check out photos of their historic homes. Their work helps explain why the HWTN is one of the best places in Milwaukee to visit and live.

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