The historic commercial and business district at Five Points (where Keefe Avenue, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Port Washington Road, Atkinson Avenue, and Sixth Street meet) is drawing lots of interest. A once bustling and active intersection for the neighborhood known as Williamsburg Heights, new enterprise is returning.
All the attention is due to newly renovated building at 3300 North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. Originally the building was owner to Dr. H. P. Haushaulter. In recent years it has stood vacant. In 2016 Bader Philanthropies announced they were moving from the 233 North Water Street in the Historic Third Ward to the present location in 53212. Denise Wooten of the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service expressed her gratitude for a major foundation to make its headquarters in an impoverished area of the city. (Read Urban Milwaukee article here: https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2016/12/04/op-ed-foundations-move-to-central-city-is-admirable/)
The renovation has been complete for a few months now and the company is in full operation there. The choice for Bader Philanthropies to renovate a historic building makes historians like me thrilled. There are many properties with charm in this business district. Due to lack of investment in this area, for better or worse, the buildings stand true to their original condition. This new headquarters of Bader Philanthropies did not look so good before their arrived. Surely, someone could have demolished the site to build a new structure. Fortunately the building's foundation was in strong condition. Besides, there are plenty of vacant properties nearby (although sometimes it seems like developers are hungry for the demolitions).
In this case, the building was preserved, and in an excellent way. This building from 1927 is of interest to Tyjeski Terra Cotta Works because it features architectural terra cotta, likely from the Northwestern Terra Cotta Company. Furthermore, the glazed surfaces are pulsichrome.
Below, in my attempt to be Camilo José Vergara, depicted is the progress of the building between December 2016 to October 2018. In the first image, you can take note of the paneling covering the windows and doors, as well as the condition of the architectural terra cotta. On the pilasters was stained red paint. Metal spikes originally holding a metal signs were left to rust. Overall, the terra cotta was solid - but its surface was stained and lacked maintenance.
Today, all the original architectural terra cotta remains in place. And it has not looked this good for decades! The general contractor, JCP Construction, and the architects Uihlein Wilson Architects deserve an applause. It is better than I predicted when news came out in 2016. This renovation shall be a celebrated example of how a historic building with architectural terra cotta can be transformed into a new, contemporary space.
Other recent works in this area have included the Heart & Hope Apartments in 2010 and sculptures by Marina Lee. There are many historic buildings in this business district that could benefit from some investment. Hopefully builders can see the value of these buildings and how they have shaped the communities that call this place of Milwaukee home. All the while, there are vacant lots eager for new builds as well. This grand intersection is right off the interstate, making its location even more convenient for businesses. The diversity of properties is wide, hopefully, encouraging new businesses of different sizes to move to this area.
With a few corner-marts, a gas station, schools, apartments, a barbershop, a correctional institute, and now a non-profit philanthropy organization, the area could benefit from the development of restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and retail. The triangle park at the center of this intersection must really be activated to the neighborhood's advantage. On the north end of the area, a few new apartment buildings might increase demand and safety to the area as well.
Local terra-cotta buildings also include F. W. Woolworth 5 & 10 Cents store, an apartment building with Moravian tiles, and a mixed-use structure known as the Hollywood Building.
PAST ARTICLES ABOUT THE CONSTRUCTION OF THE HEADQUARTERS:
Tom Daykin and Bill Glauber, Journal Sentinel, August 3, 2016
Corrinne Hess, Biz Times, January 27, 2017
Bader Philanthropies, Press Release, UrbanMilwaukee, January 27, 2017
Edgar Mendez, Urban Milwaukee, February 1, 2017
Lauren Anderson, Biz Times, May 8, 2017
Daily Reporter, May 15, 2017
Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal, March 5, 2018
Sean Ryan, Milwaukee Business Journal, September 2, 2018
Adventures and reflections on the ornament and craft of architectural terra cotta in the majestic Midwest by Ben Tyjeski.