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Cream of the Cream City Award Winners: 2005

The Cream of the Cream City Awards are presented by the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission in an ongoing effort to recognize individuals and organizations for their outstanding contributions to historic preservation through the rehabilitation of Milwaukee's architecturally significant structures as well as through heritage education. The recipients of these awards have added value to their neighborhoods and Milwaukee by preserving the unique design and character of historically designated properties. The 2005 winners are:

 

Doug Quigley
Preservation activism

Doug Quigley is a man of quiet demeanor but his words and images have had a powerful affect on preservation activism in Milwaukee. Residing above his antique business in Walker’s Point, Doug has personally witnessed the ups and downs of the preservation movement throughout the city. When the Burnham Building at 100 East Seeboth was threatened with demolition for a redevelopment proposal, Doug worked with the business community in the 5th Ward to solidify support for the historic designation and protection of the building. His public testimony before the Historic Preservation Commission and Common Council committees was reasoned and insightful and he augmented his words with an exceptional rendering of the building, as it would look in its restored state.

Doug has also nominated buildings for local historic designation, including St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church of Root Creek, the church of his childhood. Although the church was ultimately not designated, the process made the congregation look at alternatives to demolition as it considered plans for expansion. Doug has been an active member of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, lending time, support and expertise to speak at meetings, share his knowledge of architectural salvage and work behind the scenes to save endangered buildings. He has been an inspiration to many people.

 

Jeremy and Mathew Gramling
Rescuing the historic Manegold/Gramling House at 1202 S. Layton Boulevard

How do you save a fine Arts and Crafts Style house on the brink of demolition? With lots of hard work, collective effort, perseverance and dedication, that’s how. The Eschweiler-designed Manegold/Gramling House has graced the corner of W. Scott Street and Layton Boulevard since 1903 and served as the home to an auto factory foreman and then the family of Dr. Joseph Gramling. After the house passed out of the Gramling hands, it eventually became a rental property and suffered a fire in February 2002. The blaze gutted the first floor maid’s room, destroyed a second floor bathroom and caused extensive damage to the south elevation and roof. Nevertheless, the house was sturdy and repairable.

Neighboring Ascension Lutheran Church purchased the house with the intention to demolish the structure and replace it with either a parking lot or landscaped area. Neighborhood residents in the Historic Layton Boulevard Association as well as then-Mayor John Norquist and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance banded together to ensure that the house would not be lost to the community. The Historic Layton Boulevard Association nominated the building for local historic designation and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance offered technical assistance to Ascension Lutheran Church. The City of Milwaukee even offered to buy the building so it could be sold to a preservation minded owner-occupant.

Just when things looked the darkest, negotiations began between Ascension Lutheran and members of the Gramling family. Chris and Lori Gramling had learned of the building’s plight and wanted to preserve Chris’ grandfather’s legacy. A sale culminated the talks with Ascension Lutheran grateful at having a committed neighbor. Brothers Jeremy and Matthew Gramling did much of the restoration work themselves with the assistance of contractors and friends who pitched in with electrical and plumbing expertise. The two brothers moved into the house this fall, 2005 and are enjoying the fruits of their labor. The Gramling brothers can be proud that they have restored part of their family’s heritage and returned a gracious house to its prominent place on the south side’s premier residential boulevard. 

 

Elizabeth (Libby) Wick
Preserving a small Walker’s Point cottage and adjacent storefront at 226-228 W. Mineral Street

Being located in a National Register Historic District doesn’t automatically protect a historic property. Libby Wick found this out when her income property faced raze orders from the City. The small cottage located at 228 W. Mineral Street was one of hundreds built in the Walker’s Point neighborhood during the nineteenth century to house workers employed at nearby manufacturing plants. A later owner added an adjacent one story commercial building of rusticated concrete block at 226 W. Mineral Street in 1923. After the repeal of Prohibition, the storefront was used as a tavern.

By the time Libby Wick purchased the property in May of 2003, the cottage had lost its residential use and had been converted into additional seating for the tavern. Ms. Wick’s initial attempt at converting the premises into a café were unsuccessful and it was decided to return the cottage to its former residential use and make the old storefront bar part of the refurbished dwelling. The two structures now form one residence. Along the way Ms. Wick had to contend with lead and asbestos abatement and while the building was under renovation the Department of Neighborhood Services issued raze orders. With the assistance of the Historic Preservation staff, the demolition was held off while work on the building could proceed. While a technical issue prevented Ms. Wick from getting historic rehabilitation tax credits, she had nothing but praise for the staff in Madison and Milwaukee who assisted her. Although this is the first time Libby worked on such a “dilapidated old building” she felt her experience was a positive one and would do it again.

The pretty little building is now an asset to the Walker’s Point neighborhood and forms a strong transitional element between the industrial and commercial buildings along South 2nd Street and the residential properties in the heart of Walker’s Point. She definitely brought the cottage back from the brink of demolition.

 

Alterra at the Lake
Adaptive use of the old Flushing Tunnel Station at 1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive

This is the second award for the venerable 1888 cream brick building on Milwaukee’s lakefront. The Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District received recognition in 1998 for its meticulous restoration of the building’s exterior. This year’s award goes to Alterra at the Lake for its adaptive use of the structure. Locally owned Alterra Coffee Roasters had two preservation challenges at this site. The first was to create an interpretive space around the old pumping engine and flushing tunnel that remained from the building’s historic function. The second was to build an exciting café space to house its customers.

Alterra worked with the firm of Engberg Anderson Design Partnership, Inc. to meet the unique challenges of the space. The interpretive center was located in the old boiler room and a steel grate replaced an old trap door so that visitors could observe the construction of the flushing tunnel and see the water below. Visitors are informed about watershed preservation, water treatment and conservation. The restaurant space utilized the remainder of the building, incorporating a kitchen/counter area, customer seating and a loft-like mezzanine. Salvaged materials from an old Baraboo factory were recycled to enhance the industrial look of the space. Green-design features were incorporated into other aspects of the project since the building is located in a sensitive public parkland area. There is a geothermal heating system, passive cooling, an innovative treatment of the parking lot and site water runoff, and a rain garden. This once utilitarian building, so important in the days before a comprehensive sewer system was built, has now become a popular lakefront destination, serving up to 1,500 patrons a day. Customers can take in the engineering feats from a bygone era while enjoying their favorite cup of java.

 

St. Anthony Roman Catholic Church
Preservation stewardship

What is a church? A church is the sum of its congregation, a force for good in the community, a beacon of refuge in the neighborhood. Church buildings are symbols of spirituality embodied in brick, stone, mortar, and wood. Glorious interiors, executed by master craftsmen, were designed to transport members away from the common everyday life, to create a space where it was easier to commune with God. Magnificent church buildings are both a blessing and a challenge as they age. Historic features need ongoing refurbishing and repair. St. Anthony Church has embraced the challenge of heritage stewardship with a willing heart. The congregation has been before the Historic Preservation Commission over the last several years with various projects. The rectory roof and cresting were restored. The tower was restored in 2002. A local mason and a mason from France recreated missing finials. Stone was re-pointed, windows restored, the tension rods, the bell and clock works were replaced and the clock face restored to its original 1880s appearance. The roof of the sanctuary was replaced in 2004. The 1940's retaining wall was replaced with a period appropriate berm and 1880's style fencing.

The interior has also received attention. Many people drive by the stone edifice on Mitchell Street without knowing the magnificent interior that awaits them. Escaping the modernist alterations that irrevocably changed many Roman Catholic churches after Vatican II, St. Anthony’s is a feast of magnificent carved wood altars, pulpit, communion rail and confessionals. Vaulted ceilings soar above stained glass windows. To celebrate the Year of the Eucharist, declared by the late Pope John Paul II for 2003-2004, the congregation decided to restore the sanctuary. They hired Conrad Schmitt Studios and the restoration firm was charged with creating a decorative paint scheme that would have been appropriate to the 1880's. Colors were selected from remnants still present in the canopies over the statues. The high altar was cleaned and minor repairs made to the finials. Gold contact paper, installed behind the statues in the 1970's was removed and the original decorative gilding was restored. The altar rail was restored to its original configuration. New lighting was installed. The project took eight weeks and work was done in time for Easter 2004. The congregation has been blessed with members who generously contribute to the parish’s ongoing capital campaign. Future work will include the nave roof and the roof on the church spire. The efforts made at St. Anthony’s to preserve their building ensure that the beauty of the structure will continue to inspire future generations of parishioners. 

 

Iglesia Evangelica Bautista
Preservation stewardship

Iglesia Evangelica Bautista is a small congregation used to doing big things. An after school program for youth grew into the United Community Center. New housing in the Walkers Point neighborhood is named Davila Village after one of the church’s active pastors. Hard work and many bake sales enabled the 40 to 70 members of Mexican heritage to purchase their current building at 700 W. Madison Street in 1956. The small cream brick building had been built in 1900 for the Norwegian Evangelical Free Church and later housed the Ebenezer Free Gospel Church. By 1958 the new congregation recognized that the stained glass windows were sagging and bulging. Contractors came up with repair estimates that were too costly for the small group. They eventually put a small fund aside and grew their savings so that the windows could be fixed.

When the account grew sufficient enough (they thought) and the need for repairs became critical, the congregation looked around for estimates and checked with a contractor repairing the windows of nearby St. Peter’s Lutheran Church. Their hopes dimmed when they received the estimate. Another contractor turned in a similarly costly figure. Their savings account was just not large enough. They then decided to repair portions of the windows but the contractor’s recommendation to remove sections of the stained glass and fill in with aluminum panels did not sit right with the congregation. With the assistance of Historic Preservation staff Paul Jakubovich and preservationist Jim Godsil, the congregation was finally able to get the windows completely repaired for an amount they could afford. The windows were removed during the repair process, leaving the congregation with some chilly wintry services. The entire process took about eight months. The windows were finally reinstalled in 2004, showing that the members of Iglesia Evangelica Bautista once again have accomplished big things with determination and perseverance. 

 

Enterprise Art Glass
Preservation craftsmanship

Many times the efforts of talented craftsmen go unsung even when the work is right in front of the public and the business has been serving clients for many generations. Enterprise Art Glass has been one of those companies, producing fine quality leaded glass windows for nearly 100 years. The business was founded in 1907 by Carl F. Hartung and was located at the Enterprise Building at Second and Michigan Streets for its first fifteen years. The company supplied leaded glass for many homes and buildings, work that included windows, doors, transoms and skylights. The company moved to 829 W. Michigan Street and later to 600 River Parkway in Wauwatosa. Carl oversaw the company for around 30 years and his son Gilbert took over after his father’s death.

As Gilbert contemplated retirement, Frank van der Hoogt, known as Van, came on board around 1962 to learn the various parts of the operation in preparation for taking over the company. Gilbert died unexpectedly three months later and Van acquired the business from the estate. He networked with different companies and craftspersons, worked with architectural firms and was known as a facilitator who got projects done. He also did a great deal of design work himself, favoring the Prairie Style of Frank Lloyd Wright. After Van passed away in the spring of 2005, Andrew Paremski took over as president with the commitment to carry on the traditions of the business. Enterprise Art Glass continues to concentrate on new design as well as the restoration of church and residential windows. One niche that has grown in recent years is the design of windows for new residential construction. The company has also recently branched out into lampshades. Enterprise Art Glass consists of two full time employees as well as a number of trusted subcontractors and artists.

Members of the preservation community hope that Enterprise Art Glass, now located at 5402 W. State Street, will have many more decades of fine quality craftsmanship ahead. Nothing enhances a building more than beautifully designed and executed art glass windows.