Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Historic District Sought for Bay View Cottages

District would include 7 "puddler's cottages" on Superior St., all more than 115 years old, possibly 154.

By - Feb 8th, 2021 03:56 pm
Puddlers' Cottages on S. Superior St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Puddlers’ Cottages on S. Superior St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The sale of a small house appears to have spurred a push to designate most of a Bay View block as a historic district.

Joseph Paterick filed an application with the Historic Preservation Commission late last week to form the South Superior St. Puddlers’ Cottages Historic District. He also filed for emergency protection of the one-story, 1,397-square-foot home at 2530 S. Superior St.

The district would encompass seven homes on the 2500 block of S. Superior St.

The homes, all one-story houses, are already part of the federally-designated Bay View Historic District that was established in 1982. “As a group, these eight structures are interesting as they form the longest row of contiguous workers’ cottages that remains intact in the district,” says the 1982 application. The homes were built by the mill’s owners and sold to employees.

But that federal designation does not afford protection to the properties. A local designation would require a city-issued certificate of appropriateness for any exterior modifications.

“They characterized the early years of the community, but have been subject to more frequent teardowns,” wrote Paterick in his application. That includes the fact that was once eight homes is now only seven.

Paterick, according to the application, lives in one of the homes, but according to city records does not own it. He did not respond to a request for comment. The house between his and the recently sold home was the one demolished and now sits as an empty lot.

On December 23rd, the newly formed 2530 S Superior LLC purchased the house at that address from Sheri Aiosa for $230,000. Aiosa, a resident of South Milwaukee according to assessment records, had acquired the property for $190,000 in 2017.

No city permits to alter the structure have been filed, but the property does sit on the largest lot on the block as it encompasses the site of the demolished home at 2524 S. Superior St. A new property built on the 0.26-acre lot would have lake views.

The temporary historic designation would last for up 180 days on the property and give the commission staff time to prepare a report for the board on the merits of designating the full block.

A firm affiliated with Ryan Konicek, is the new owner. Konicek, of Ryan Scott Development, has engaged in a number of acquisition-rehab projects and developed five rowhouse condominiums in the neighborhood in recent years.

Konicek told Urban Milwaukee he has no intention of demolishing the structure. “My brother, Chris Konicek and I, are working with the Wisconsin Historical Society to improve/restore the original structure and have begun the process of applying for historic tax credits to restore the home,” said Konicek via email. “As a Bay View resident and developer, I am familiar with the concerns of neighbors and keeping contexts of neighborhoods when it comes to making improvements and I kept that in mind for this property prior to purchasing.”

The cottages were built in an era when their proximity to a long-gone mill, not Lake Michigan, was the draw. And their name reflects those that worked at the mill.

Puddlers were ironworkers that formed molten metal into higher quality iron. The large Bay View rolling mill closed in 1929 and was demolished in the following decade. Today the multi-block mill site has been all but erased. The southern tip is parkland at the northeast corner of E. Russell Ave. and S. Superior St. and its northern tip (now part of the port and freeway system) continued well past E. Lincoln Ave.

Homes in the proposed district include those on the east side of S. Superior St. between E. Russell Ave. and E. Ontario St.: 2500 S. Superior St., 2506 S. Superior St., 2508 S. Superior St., 2512 S. Superior St. 2518 S. Superior St., 2522 S. Superior St. and 2530 S. Superior St. A home at the south end of the block, 2538 S. Superior St., would be exempted because it is of a different style.

City records indicate the houses were built between 1886 and 1903, though many use the assessor’s catchall date of 1900. The 1894 Sanborn fire insurance map of the block shows houses of the same size on every lot, indicating that the homes may all be of pre-1894 construction. The 1982 historic designation says the since-demolished house at 2524 S. Superior St. was the least altered of the bunch and was built in 1867 by the Milwaukee Iron Company for its workers. The application author suggests that all were logically built at the same time.

It’s the second time in the past year that a historic designation has been considered for a puddler’s cottage. Charles Tollefsen and Amanda Nelson demolished a house at 2556 S. Shore Dr. and are now building a replacement in line with the style of others on the block. Nearby resident Gary Edelman applied for historic protection on the structure, but shortly thereafter withdrew the nomination citing neighbor ambivalence.

Further south, permits have been filed for the demolition of a carriage house at 3072 S. Superior St. No historic designation application has been filed in that case.


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