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Mitchell Street State Bank's past life and new chapter as First Federal

Every week on Urban Spelunking , Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig and OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dig into the buildings and architectural features that help retain the city’s sense of history while it builds for the future.

While the demographics have changed over the last 100-plus years, the mission has stayed the same for the Mitchell Street State Bank, now First Federal Bank. Since 1907, it has always been a financial hub for Milwaukee's South Side families, many of whom are immigrants.

The building was constructed in 1916 (the bank itself predates the building) in the neoclassical style. Imposing white columns, and a heavily ornamented roof and doors reinforce a theme of security and strength. Inside, the bank has typical features, including a service counter set behind glass, with the original vault still visible.

The interior recently underwent extensive remodeling under the new ownership of First Federal but still includes ample evidence of the bank building's history. During Bobby's visit, he spotted a strange "half floor" with a lookout window, presumably where an armed guard kept an eye on the banking operations.

On this episode, we discuss the next chapter of the building, how it will continue to serve the community's needs beyond banking and more about the history of this architectural gem. Listen to the episode below, and visit OnMilwaukee for more photos and history.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee