Whether you’ve lived in Milwaukee your entire life, traveled briefly through the city, or anything in between, it’s no doubt happened to you. You’ve passed some stunning architecture that gives you pause. And you may have wondered…what is that building? The one on the Lake that looks like a sculpture, the church with the magnificent dome, the tower that looks like it’s straight out of a fairytale, the edifice that looks like the Taj Mahal. What is that building?
Milwaukee is indisputably home to some truly spectacular, iconic architecture. Spectacular, as well as diverse. While modern, graceful wing-like structures enhance the skyline, so too do historic towers, turrets, and minarets. It’s a splendid and perfect blend of historical and new.
One of the city’s most renowned architectural feats is the Milwaukee Art Museum; more specifically, the Quadracci Pavilion, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava in 2001. Its Burke Brise Soleil which looks like magnificent wings, is a mechanical sun-shading structure that opens for a wingspan of 217 feet during the day and fold over the building at night or during inclement weather.
The ornate dome of the Basilica of St. Josaphat can be seen from I-43. It was built in 1901 by Polish immigrants and is referred to as “an overlooked wonder of the world.” An amazing fact about the structure is that it was built using salvaged materials from the Chicago Federal Post Office and Custom House when that building was demolished. This saved many thousands of dollars in material costs.
On Milwaukee’s Near West Side is a building, the design of which was inspired by the Taj Mahal. In 1928, the Tripoli Shrine, complete with minarets, mosaics, and stone camels, was completed to house Shriners International.
Reminiscent of tales by the Brothers Grimm is the North Point Water Tower on the bluff between North Lake Drive and Lake Michigan. Commonly and affectionately known as the Rapunzel building, the 175-foot Victorian Gothic-style tower was built in 1873 and remained in service until 1963.
Other notable buildings in Milwaukee include, but are not limited to Rockwell Automation-Allen Bradley Clock Tower, the Pabst Mansion, Milwaukee City Hall, Pfister Hotel, Milwaukee Public Library, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa.
Located on the vibrant and architecturally rich East Side is a beautiful castle-like building. Eastcastle Place senior living community’s Historic Building, is of Victorian Gothic style, dating back to 1892. It was designed by renowned Milwaukee architects Henry Koch and Herman Esser. Marvels within its doors include a staircase with Cyril Colnik metalwork and Tiffany memorial stained glass windows. The 23 apartment homes in the Historic Building are unique, including features such as built-in bookcases, beautiful woodwork, columns, balconies, lead glass windows, and double-facing fireplaces.
Blending seamlessly adjacent to the Historic Building is Eastcastle Place’s Contemporary Building, built-in 2006. Its 12 unique floor plans of one and two-bedroom apartments boast upscale finishes, beautiful detailing, and special features such as fireplaces, balconies, and eye-catching turrets.
Eastcastle Place’s renovation and expansion project, slated to begin next year, will introduce a third selection of apartments. The new Lake Drive Estates will include approximately 30 independent living, entrance-fee apartments. These homes will meld Eastcastle Place’s historic charm and distinctiveness with upscale modern amenities. The project will also include enhancing and updating common areas within the community, including the dining room, fitness and aquatic center, bar/lounge, creativity center, outdoor spaces, etc. Eastcastle Place will ultimately have three distinct apartment neighborhoods with the Historic and Contemporary Buildings and Lake Drive Estates.
With its 138 year history, Eastcastle Place will remain in the category of wonderous architecture that inspires the question, what is that building?