Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn

2007 Spaces and Traces Tour, Bayview

We managed to get tickets for this spring's "Spaces and Traces" tour of homes and buildings conducted by Historic Milwaukee Inc. This year's focus was on the Bayview neighborhood, which is located south of the Jones Island and Walker's Point regions along the shore of Lake Michigan. Bay View was Milwaukee's first "suburb", being a community that was developed by and around the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill. This business was an iron works that was one of the area's first heavy industries. The company subdivided land around the plant and built and sold homes to the Irish and Italian immigrant labor the work attracted. One area became know as "Little Italy" due to the concentration of Italian-owned buisinesses that sprang up.

The tour include homes and public buildings dating from the 1870's to the 1920's, and ranging from very fine homes to worker's cottages. The tour included the Beulah Brinton House, now the headquarters of the Bay View Historical Society, notable for being one of the oldest houses in Bay View, which belonged to the wife of a Milwaukee Iron executive, who opened her home to the workers' families, taught English and other classes, and established a lending library there. Another fine home was one of those built by the family of Elijah Estes, and early settler. Sadly, Estes' own mansion was razed decades ago to make way for Lakeshore Park.

The real jewel of the tour was the Nordberg house, built by one of Milwaukee industry's pioneering engineers. This home has been meticulously maintained and restored, and included one of the most splendid library rooms we have ever seen. The large airy room at the front of the house had extensive built-in glass fronted bookcases AND drawers for maps and drawings, PLUS included a functional inglenook (a recessed fireplace flanked by settees). Georgie and I agreed that if we had thishouse, this room was where we would spend most of our time.
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