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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Spencerian Business College (G. Tipler photo, 2007)

Spencerian Business College (G. Tipler photo, 2007)

Spencerian Business College
2800 W. Wright Street, Milwaukee, Milwaukee County
Dates of construction: 1911, 1920, 1926, 1951
Architects: Alexander C. Eschweiler and Eschweiler & Eschweiler

The Spencerian Business College building is associated with the highly respected independent business college and with nationally recognized educator Miss Ethelyn M. Bennett, who made important contributions to business education which have been widely adopted by higher education institutions throughout the world.

The Spencerian Business College was outstanding among Milwaukee's business schools for the quality of its education, its distinguished reputation, and for the achievements of its graduates, who were highly sought by leading companies and organizations in Milwaukee and across the United States. The college operated as an independent institution for 111 years; it merged with Concordia College as its Division of Business Science in 1974.

During Miss Bennett's ownership, operation and management of the Spencerian Business College from 1923 to 1965, she was "regarded nationally as the matriarch of business education." In 1950-1951, due to enormous growth in post-war enrollment and the need to expand programs, she bought and moved the college from downtown Milwaukee to the centrally located Wright Street building. The move permitted the school's development as a four-year degree granting institution. Here Miss Bennett launched the innovative Work-Study Program and the Tri-Mester Plan, programs that colleges throughout the United States adapted. The college was on the leading edge of providing business training, continually added new studies, and offered scheduling and financing opportunities in response to societal changes and students' needs.

Milwaukee architect Alexander Eschweiler designed the Colonial Revival-styled building in 1911 for the Wisconsin Telephone Company. Following the tenure of the business college in the 1970s, the building became an annex to the Clinton Street elementary school. From 1982 to 2006 it was home to the Milwaukee Urban League, which attracted national attention for a study in 1987 on mortgage lending and segregation, lauded by the National Urban League. Gorman & Company renovated the building in 2006-2007, creating an elderly housing apartment community. Please respect the privacy of the residents.

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