Facade Restoration - where we started
Pictured is the corner of Russell and Delaware in MIlwaukee that people have known for years. It has a charm and, best of all, it houses one of the coolest cocktail lounges in the country.
This style of small commercial building is pretty common in the older areas of Milwaukee. And, the alterations that have been performed over the years are also fairly common - I like to think that there was a very rich aluminum siding salesman somewhere in MIlwaukee.
The building you see was built in 1893 as an addition to the the 'cottage' immediately to the west. This cottage, built in 1888 was a typical style of worker's housing that popped up around the Bay View steel mill, located a few blocks to the East. The corner building, once built, almost always housed a tavern, but also functioned as a drug store for a few years. If you want to read about the history of the building, Bobby Tanzilo from On Milwaukee wrote a great article about it back in 2018.
In the 1930s the building was covered with asphalt siding that was intended to look like brick. This was a very popular substitute siding back in the day and many many structures were covered with the stuff. It was useful for insulation and it covered to wood siding so it didn't have to be painted on a regular basis. Then, sometime in the late 50s or early 60s, the building was again "updated", this time with aluminum siding.
Sometime during the renovations, the windows were reduced in size, two doors were eliminated, and 4 windows were filled in. What resulted was an aluminum-clad box, devoid of any detail or massing found on the original structure.