Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Say Goodbye to Harp & Shamrock Building

137-year-old building that housed tavern on Wells St. planned for demolition, though precisely when not clear.

By - Jun 29th, 2022 11:44 am
2104-2106 W. Wells St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

2104-2106 W. Wells St. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Harp and Shamrock tavern is closed. Now the 137-year-old building that housed it is poised to come down.

The two-story structure, 2104-2106 W. Wells St., has been leaning for years. But in 2021, things got bad enough that it was reported to the Department of Neighborhood Services for damaging the building to the west. An enforcement order to fix or remove the structure was issued in November, as well as a $508 invoice to register the building as vacant.

The building had housed a tavern since its construction in 1885, including through prohibition. But it closed amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, having held out long enough to be issued a Milwaukee Health Department safety sign in October 2020 that still is displayed in the window. It had been known as Harp & Shamrock since 1961, though it had many different owners. Aldo Tase was the last registered agent.

Reached Wednesday, Tase said he wasn’t sure yet whether the building would be demolished. But G3 Contractors applied for a raze permit on June 9 to demolish the building. As of publication for this story, the permit had not been issued.

The job cost, according to a permit request, is estimated at $61,836. The property is assessed for $109,200, but only $7,800 is attributed to the 0.09-acre lot.

Issues with the 3,436-square-foot building have long been known by the city. A 1994 assessor’s report found serious issues with the structure.

“Major [foundation] problems. Walls shifted and floors sagging in middle to sagging wood shifting of floor. 2nd flr. is worse, leaving res. units unrentable. Chimney on subject was touching adj. bldg. to west….Acc to tenant in tavern owner cannot afford to fix due to costs. Bldg. probably should have Raze / Rehab order. Costs to cure problem are not economically feasible due to low rents in area,” said an assessor in a report unearthed by Michael Horne for a Bar Exam column.

Horne, visiting the bar in 2014, noticed many issues remained. “To this day, there are pronounced ups and downs and backs and forths to the tavern’s walls and floors. This is no place to expect a carpenter’s square to run true,” wrote Horne.

According to assessment records, Tase purchased the property for $61,500 in 2015 from bar owner Allen J. Richards. In 2018, the property was transferred, with a value of $110,000, from Tase to 2106 Wells LLC, which lists Tase’s mother Athina Tase as its registered agent. Invoices for asbestos abatement refer to Aldo’s father Marko Tase.

The Tase family owns a number of properties in the city, including a now-vacant lot at 324-326 W. State St. The family demolished the vacant, 1885 building on that site in 2020.

2014 Photos

2022 Photos

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