Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

2101-2111 N PROSPECT AVE

Architecture and History Inventory
2101-2111 N PROSPECT AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Bertelson Building
Other Name:Cafe Brucke/Romin Ciucci/Bert's/Mystery One
Reference Number:29084
Location (Address):2101-2111 N PROSPECT AVE
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1927
Survey Date:1986
Historic Use:retail building
Architectural Style:Mediterranean Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Terra Cotta
Architect:Martin Tullgren and Sons
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Bertelson Building
National Register Listing Date:
State Register Listing Date:1/17/1992 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation-Public History.

Originally Bertelson's photographic studio, one of Milwaukee's largest.

Excellent example of Spanish influenced terra cotta commercial building of this date in nearly original condition. Ornate terra cotta decorative elements.

Complete architectural and historical significance description in Milwaukee Landmarks nomination.

Milwaukee’s successful portrait photographer Helen Bertelson wanted an evocative building for her studio and home, so she hired Herbert Tullgren to create a Mediterranean Revival design decked out with terracotta ornament. Tullgren’s source for terracotta Spanish Colonial Revival components was American Terra Cotta & Ceramic Company. His design presents diamond-pattern colonettes flanking the elliptical arch store windows, walls covered with grotesque faces, squirrels, mythical beasts, and bowls of fruit giving the building a romantic appearance for Bertelson’s photography patrons. The second-story window bays clasp wrought-iron balconets, and shutters frame the windows capped by lintels adorned with foliage and putti motifs. Terra cotta medallions, wreaths, scrolls, plaques, and griffins stream across the frieze banding beneath its Spanish-tile pent roof tower. Picturesque massing, splendid detail, and handsome materials make the Bertelson Building one of the best-known commercial landmarks on Milwaukee’s busy upper east side. Many interior elements remain despite its conversion into apartments after Helen Bertelson died in 1954, and her children sold the building in 1956. The details include beamed ceilings, plaster walls textured to imitate adobe, and arches resting on rope-twist columns.

Bertelson’s home and studio draws ornamental parallels from the Watts Building at 717 N. Jefferson and the Tullgren Building at 5917 North Avenue, both designed by Herbert Tullgren, who had recently inherited his late father's architectural firm. The architect provided three storefronts and the studio on the first floor, and commercial space and office area on the second floor south half, with Bertelson’s apartment on its north side.
Bibliographic References:Date of construction: building permit. Perrin, Milwaukee Landmarks, p. 62. Tax Program. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript. https://umedia.lib.umn.edu/node/67158?mode=basic Page 169 of Common Clay. https://www.amazon.com/Common-Clay-American-Corporation-1881-1966/dp/0974773808
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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