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Milwaukee Normal School--Milwaukee Girls' Trade and Technical High School - Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Posted by: Groundspeak Charter Member BruceS
N 43° 02.422 W 087° 56.163
16T E 423753 N 4765722
Quick Description: Historic former school now homeless shelter in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Location: Wisconsin, United States
Date Posted: 9/7/2011 7:31:16 PM
Waymark Code: WMCH6G
Published By: Groundspeak Regular Member Math Teacher
Views: 0

Long Description:
"The Milwaukee Normal School/Milwaukee Girl's Trade Technical High School is a complex of four adjoining structures built in stages between 1885 and 1932. It is located in the eastern part of the survey area near the downtown. The school and grounds occupy an entire block bounded by North 18th Street on the east, Kilborun Avenue on the north, North 19th Street on the west, and Wells Street on the south. The buildings cover about two-thirds of the block with a small, grassy, tree-shaped yard along Wells Street and an asphalt covered playground parking lot to the rear. The oldest part of the complex is the original State Normal School building. It is the central core structure facing Wells Street. Constructed in 1885, the structure was designed with strong vertical lines and proportions that are embellished with Queen Anne elements. It is three and one-half stories high and rests on a raised foundation of cut limestone blocks. The facade is symmetrically designed and is divided by a central pavilion which extends from the main block with side wings. The roof is a slate covered, steeply-pitched, hipped, central block which is pierced by a series of steeply-pitched gables also covered with slate. The roof treatment over the center pavilion is an elaborate composition of concave curves which sweep up to a high center gable. On either side of the gable are deocrated chimneys. The walls were originally unpainted red-brick trimmed with yellow brick and limestone. All masonry surfaces are now painted a cream color. At the corners are brick quoins on the first floor and pilasters on the second and third floors which support wooden cornices. The corner pilasters on the center pavilion terminate as finials. A stone belt course separates the first and second floors. The windows are two-over-two, double-hung wooden sash with stone sills and splayed brick lintels with stone heads. They are framed on the sides with the same brick pattern found in the quoins. The third floor windows have round-arched, multi-paned transoms set in compound arches. The main entry is reached through a round-arched portal enframed with pilasters and a stone-trimmed parapet. Other entries of similar design were on both the east and west elevations, but were removed as the school was enlarged. The Normal School was enlarged in 1894 with a three and one-half story addition of compatible design to the east elevation. It was designed to blend with the lines and proportions of the original structure and duplicated many of the original design features. To the casual observer, the two parts appear as one building. The addition is a rectangular block which measures five bays wide and seven bays long with a steeply-pitched hipped roof covered with slate. Duplicated in this addition are the slate covered, steeply-pitched gables which pierce the roof line, the decorated chimneys, the raised foundation of cut limestone blocks, the red brick walls and brick and stone trim now painted the same cream color, the brick quoins on the first floor and pilasters on the second and third floors, the belt course which separates the first and second floors, the windows which are wooden, double-hung sash, but are one-over-one lights with transoms on the first floor, and the round-arched transoms on the third floor set in compound arches. In 1909, the Normal School was sold to the Milwaukee Public Schools and was converted to Milwaukee Girls' Trade and Technical School. It was enlarged in 1918 with an addition which occupies the southwest corner of the site. This addition is an L-shaped block, four stories high with a flat roof. The fourth floor was added in 1932. The design of this addition is in stark contrast to the previous school buildings with a straight-forward, functional form that is embellished with modified Tudor-Gothic details. The walls are surfaced with common brick laid in English bond and are trimmed with stone belt courses between the foundation and first floor, and second and third floors. A stone cornice projects from the walls and above rises what was the original plain, brick parapet. The facades are proportionately divided with brick piers simulating buttressing trimmed with stone. The hyphen which connects the Normal School to the addition is cream colored brick with the remaining building a verigated brown brick. The windows are six-over-six double-hung wooden sash with stone sills and lintels. The main entry on North 19th Street is an arched opening of triple-doors and transoms that is enframed with heavy carved stone rosettes. The windows above the entry are decorated with carved stone figures above the 19th Street entry and at the center of the Wells Street facade which represent women at work in various trades. In 1932, the school was enlarged again. A four-story classroom office wing was added to the north of the 1918 addition with an auditorium to the rear. Its design heavily reflects the 1918 addition and continues the same general design elements and fenestral pattern.

The former Wells Street Junior High School is of local architectural significance. The original part of this building (the 1885 portion on Wells Street) is a work of master architect Edward Townsend Mix. Designed in the Queen Anne style, it represents a unique and rare example of later 19th century school architecture that was not common to Milwaukee. The subsequent additions in 1894, 1918, and 1932 reflected the increase in enrollment and the change in function from a State Normal School for teacher training to a public girl's trade school. In 1894 an addition was designed to compliment the Queen Anne plan of the original, but with bolder details and proportions. The 1918 and 1932 additions are Tudor style of high quality materials and craftsmanship. All of the additions are of architectural significance and do not detract from the integrity of the original building." - National Register Nomination

Street address:
1820 W. Wells St.
Milwaukee, Wisconsin


County / Borough / Parish: Milwaukee

Year listed: 1986

Historic (Areas of) Significance: Person, Event, Architecture/Engineering

Periods of significance: 1875-1899, 1900-1924, 1925-1949

Historic function: Education

Current function: Domestic

Privately owned?: yes

Primary Web Site: [Web Link]

Secondary Website 1: [Web Link]

Season start / Season finish: Not listed

Hours of operation: Not listed

Secondary Website 2: Not listed

National Historic Landmark Link: Not listed

Visit Instructions:
Please give the date and brief account of your visit. Include any additional observations or information that you may have, particularly about the current condition of the site. Additional photos are highly encouraged, but not mandatory.
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