There’s a good reason Water & Wells has always been a Milwaukee crossroads

There’s a good reason Water & Wells has always been a Milwaukee crossroads

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It’s one of the most iconic intersections in Milwaukee — Water and Wells streets.

On one corner sits City Hall, on another The Pabst Theater. And one corner is currently under construction as crews work to complete a new and modern 25-story office tower, fitted with all the latest amenities.

But underneath all of it, going all the way back the 1830s, is where the first wooden frame house was built in Milwaukee.

Home to gunsmith Mathias Stein, it stood at the base of a giant hill (where City Hall is now), surrounded by unspoiled nature and indigenous settlements. The 1838 house predated Milwaukee itself — and photography — and the only remaining visual memory are artists portraits, uncovered by OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo.

An artist’s rendering of the intersection of Wells & Water and the 1938 Stein home. Photo via Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear / OnMilwaukee.

The nearly two centuries of history came up as Tanzilo was researching the area around the new BMO Harris office tower at 790 N. Water St.

In this week’s Urban Spelunking podcast, Bobby tells his journey down that rabbit hole, plus a few other memorable inhabitants of that iconic Milwaukee intersection.

Be sure to read Bobby’s complete story at OnMilwaukee.

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