Historic Structures

Second Ward Savings Bank (now Milwaukee County Historical Center), Milwaukee Wisconsin

Date added: November 14, 2009 Categories: Wisconsin Commercial Bank

Erected for the Second Ward Savings Bank in 1911-13, and since 1965 it has served as headquarters of the Milwaukee County Historical Society. This graceful structure is a fine example of the Neo-classical revival. The application for the building permit (No. 2110) is dated September 27, 1911. By January 10, 1913, construction was complete, and the bank opened officially on February 3. It Is reported to have cost approximately $400,000.

In 1928 the Second Ward Savings Bank, the original owner, merged with the First Wisconsin National Bank of Milwaukee, and the building became the First Wisconsin's Second Ward Office. In April, 1965, the First Wisconsin donated the structure to Milwaukee County. The historical society took possession a few weeks later, and the former bank reopened as the Milwaukee County Historical Center in October, 1966.

It is a two-story wedge-shaped building with the southeast corner rounded. It measures 149 feet 5-3/4 inches on the east (North Plankinton Avenue side), 152 feet 10-3/4 inches on the west (North Third Street side), 126 feet on the south (West Kilbourn Avenue side) and 23 feet 7 inches on the squared north end. The building has walls of dressed buff Bedford limestone set in ashlar construction and resting upon a visible base course of Barre granite. The giant order of fluted Ionic columns set upon base blocks are executed in Bedford limestone. Between some of the bays there are squared pilasters. There are nine defined bays on the east facade, nine on the west, one on the north, and five on the south. The southeast corner of the building is rounded.