Milwaukee’s oldest original house still stands, and you can go inside.
But, first, a little backstory.
Construction on the Greek Revival, wooden frame house began in 1843, under the direction of carpenter Benjamin Church. He settled in Milwaukee at age 27 to begin work in the trades, then years later, he built the house to replace a makeshift shack on his land near 4th and Court St. He lived there for years while he became a man of influence in Milwaukee.
But history wasn’t so kind to the house.
It was sold to absentee landlords and was reportedly neglected by a string of bad tenants. Dilapidated, it remained on its original lot until 1938. By this time, it was marked for demolition.
That’s when the Milwaukee County Historical Society stepped in, noting the historic significance, and purchased the house. It was relocated to Estabrook Park where it was restored and reopened as a museum, and it is still open to the public today.
Open on the weekends, you can walk inside the historical treasure, complete with period furnishings and interactive activities.
OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo joined me in studio for a conversation about the landmark for this edition of Urban Spelunking.