Spaces & Traces 2016 featuring the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood was a huge success! The event would not have been possible with out the generous home owners, volunteers, and neighbors who helped share the wonderful history, architecture, and stories of the neighborhood.
Historic Water Town Neighborhood
The Historic Water Tower Neighborhood is bordered by Edgewood Avenue on the north, Downer Avenue on the west, Lafayette Place on the south and Lake Michigan on the east. This neighborhood is home to the largest concentration of historic homes in Wisconsin, with many listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Among the highlights were Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum and Renaissance Garden, the chapel inside St. Mary’s Hospital, the former Kenwood Masonic Lodge and the former “pink parlor” of Eastcastle Place, now a private apartment and eight incredible private homes.
Private homes on Lake, Hackett, Terrace, Summit and Wahl will reveal how early 20th century classic homes are lived in by today’s families. Homes include the Alexander Eschweiler designed French castle on Lake Drive; the Elizabeth Black home on Terrace designed by Thomas Van Alyea with a residential elevator and a striking Leenhouts & Guthrie Prairie School duplex on Summit and others.
Original leaded glass, light fixtures, and a secret Prohibition-era basement “storage room” are not to be missed. Two homes have the original servant “call buttons” in the kitchen and maid’s quarters. Several properties feature ironwork by Cyril Colnik, a craftsman called the “Tiffany of wrought iron masters.” Colnik made decorative ironwork for the homes and businesses of Milwaukee’s captains of industry at the end of the 19th century and start of the 20th century.
History of Spaces & Traces
In the spring of 1981, Historic Walker’s Point, Inc. hosted its first day-long tour entitled Loft Spaces and Historic Traces, featuring interiors as well as exteriors of several buildings in the downtown area. Since then, the name has evolved into Spaces & Traces and over the past 34 years, volunteers have helped thousands of tour goers become more familiar with the unique characteristics of Milwaukee’s richly textured neighborhoods.
All kinds of spaces have been featured from elegantly tiled lobbies, to condos in former breweries, from modestly scaled working class homes to stately mansions along old streetcar lines. In the last three decades, much has been learned about how many 19th and 20th century former and present churches, schools, factories, taverns, warehouses, firehouses, cemeteries, parks and homes have been renovated, restored, or otherwise retooled for twenty-first century uses. Over the years, tour attendees have been educated about the “historical traces” of areas as varied as the Third Ward, Yankee Hill, Lincoln Avenue, Bay View, Rufus King, Newberry Blvd, Sherman Park, and Story Hill as well as the areas along the rivers in downtown, Brady Street, Riverwest, and Walker’s Point. Areas outside of Milwaukee have featured West Allis and Shorewood.