Kenosha has several designated historic districts. This is the smallest one and it is called the Pearl Street Historic District. It consists of just four buildings on a short street between the police station and the Metra railroad. It was listed as a historic district in 1998 for the architectural quality. I have to say when I got out to look at the buildings the didn’t look too remarkable but after reading up on each building I see why they were preserved. All were threatened with demolition in the 1980s but when the unique structure of each of them was discovered they were rehabilitated in the 1990s by their owners and developers. Today three are office buildings two with spaces for rent, one is a church today.
The unique feature here is a corner turret covered in sheet metal with decorative cornice edges where it meets the flat roof. The round arches over the windows are a distinctive trait of the Cream City brick building. The building was constructed in 1880 and is a good representation of the Italianate style that was popular at the time. It was originally know as Maple House from 1896 to about 1925. At this time it was a popular saloon for railroad workers. In 1933 it because the Schlitz Hotel and Tavern. Later it was referred to as the Wisconsin Hotel. It sat vacant for 30 years but when the uniqueness of the structure was discovered it was renovated to the office building it is now. As you can see it has space for rent today. I joked it was the perfect place from my B&B (Books and Beads) store. No, no never running a store but sadly Kenosha lacks a bookstore of any kind even a chain one!
This home is in the Greek Revival style much like the Hull House in Waukegan started before it was remodeled to Victorian Gothic. This is a prime example of early architecture in this area. (seems so strange to consider 1850 EARLY I mean in Charleston we were talking about the 1680s as the early stuff, Tennessee it was the 1770s but here it’s the 1850s heck I name my direct line by memory that far back). The rumor was this was the home of the inventor of the typewriter but that’s wrong. It was built for William Seymour in 1850. It then became a boarding house and saloon. It was so successful that it expanded building the Maple House pictured above and the two were connected for a time. During prohibition, the buildings served as a restaurant, speak easy, hotel, and Communist Labor Party headquarters. About 1930 the house was disconnected from the Maple house and left to sit until renovations in the 1990s. Today it is a law office.
This is the Winberg Building built in 1907 and house Kenosha’s first modern grocery It was known for it’s large storefront windows. It is in the classic revival style and made from red brick with Cream City brick accents, the recessed entrance offered shelter from the lake winds when entering. Windows for business in the area before were smaller with dividers like the next building. John Winberg built the building to house his grocery and another small business. It did so until the grocery closed in 1920. Then the grocery store part was partitioned off to smaller areas that were leased to short term tenants. It was remodeled in the 1990s and now houses offices of accounting firms, lawyers and such.
This City Cream brick building is unique in that it’s three window bays are from the late 1800s and feature cast iron facades. These were popular for stores in that time period because it offered a way to have elaborate decorative detail without a lot of expense. Also these would be mass produce and shipped in one piece. It gave the possibility of having larger store front windows until the development of windows like those used in the Wineberg building about 30 years later. Unfortunately today the owner has allowed ivy to grow over the building making it hard to see the detail in the cast iron. Also at the time I took the picture a church service was going on inside. I didn’t want to seem to be a lurker so I made photos from across the street. I did walk past to see if there was a spot I could get a shot of these details but no. However as common as cast iron storefronts were in the late 1800s these the only three left here in Kenosha.
Until next time!