We dig into these questions on this week's installment of Urban Spelunking, our weekly interview with OnMilwaukee.com Managing Editor Bobby Tanzilo.
This week, Tanzilo takes us to the edge of Downtown Milwaukee to the Haymarket Square neighborhood to visit the St. John de Nepomuc rectory, 325 W. Court St.
Constructed in 1859, the rectory — or parish house — was home to the priest of the nearby St. Johannes de Nepomuc Church. The church itself has since been demolished, but the rectory has survived, under the ownership of Mike Loos, who also owns O'Reilly Motor Cars.
The building itself is basically empty inside, with visible studs and dusty, unfinished floors. The only major feature left is the staircase leading up to the second floor, just as empty as the first.
It's a different story, though, from the outside. The Gothic Revival architecture is just as striking as it was more than a century ago, with pointed arches and rounded windows running along the top of the building. The cream city brick exterior could use some cleaning, but it's in good shape and a good example of masonry of the time.
And if you're curious who St. John de Nepomuc was — he was a 14th century saint, "martyred when he was drowned on the orders of the apparently not so good King Wenceslaus," Tanzilo writes.
Click the podcast player above to hear our conversation, and check out Tanzilo's complete article about the rectory here.