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Architecture and History Inventory
5000 BLOCK OF N PALISADES RD | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Big Bay Park
Other Name:Big Bay Park
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:153265
Location (Address):5000 BLOCK OF N PALISADES RD
City:Whitefish Bay
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1940
Survey Date:20112007
Historic Use:park
Architectural Style:
Structural System:
Wall Material:
Architect:Works Projects Administration (WPA)
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
Additional Information:2007-

Part of the extensive Milwaukee County Park System, the 8.7 acres comprising Big Bay Park is located in the Village of Whitefish Bay. It is immediately north of, and contiguous to, the Village's own Buckley Park.

Lannon stone stairs and walkways were constructed as WPA projects around 1940. Near the foot of this walkway, a groin was constructed and extended out into the Lake for shoreline protection. The groin also eventually led to the buildup of a sandy beach area, for public swimming.


In 1924, I. J. Rosenberg purchased 1,600 feel of land fronting Lake Michigan on Lake Drive between present Henry Clay Street and Fairmount Avenue. The following year he formed the Highland Beach Company to develop an apartment hotel on this land. After hiring G. H. Gottschalk & Company of Chicago to construct a $2,000,000 hotel designed by Milwaukee architect Herman Bruns, the village changed the site’s zoning to prohibit the construction of a hotel. Also that year, the village began condemnation proceedings to acquire the land for a new village park. Litigation ensued and ended with the disposal of the land at sheriff’s auction. The land was purchased by a developer who platted the land west of Palisades Road for residential lots. In 1937, the 8.7 acres of land east of Palisades Road were sold to Milwaukee County to become a county park. After World War II, a wooden memorial was erected in the park honoring Whitefish Bay veterans. However, it suffered greatly from deteriorated and was eventually removed. Today, a carved wooden eagle from the memorial is mounted in the board room of the Whitefish Bay Village Hall. Along the shoreline in the park, a wall and pier have been constructed to prevent erosion. To this day, the park continues to be maintained by the Milwaukee County Park System.
Bibliographic References:"Images of America: Milwaukee County Parks," by Laurie Muench Albano, Arcadia Publishing, 2007, page 105. Fehring, Thomas H. Images of America: Whitefish Bay. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2010. Milwaukee County Parks website. <http://www.countyparks.com> Whitefish Bay Historical Research Project. Volume 10. Mimi Bird Collection, Whitefish Bay: Whitefish Bay Public Library
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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