2569 N WAHL AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

2569 N WAHL AVE

Architecture and History Inventory
2569 N WAHL AVE | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Jessie and John F. Kern House
Other Name:
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:30213
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):2569 N WAHL AVE
County:Milwaukee
City:Milwaukee
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1900
Additions: 1917
Survey Date:1980
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:German Renaissance Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:CRANE AND BARKHAUSEN
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: North Point North Historic District
National Register Listing Date:3/24/2000
State Register Listing Date:7/16/1999
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:IRONWORK WAS EXECUTED BY CYRIL COLNIK. AUGUST HOLSTEIN AND CARL KLEPPE WERE THE CARPENTERS AND CARL F. UECKERT AND HENRY A. HOVE WERE THE MASONS. The detached garage was built in 7/1961.

John Kern operated Milwaukee’s Eagle Four Mill, which ranked among America’s largest mills in the 1850s. To mark his lifelong success, the Jessie and John F. Kern House is a German Renaissance Revival design in dark brick and brownstone. A stone balustraded veranda wraps the front of the house, joining at its center to form paired arches guarding the front entry portal where Cyril Colnik’s wrought-iron grilles grace the double leaf doors. The entrance, like the side gatehouse, doubles as a balcony also trimmed by Colnik’s wrought iron railing. The front and side gabled wings have stepped pediments adorned with terra cotta ornaments and brownstone window trim. A corbeled turret, finished in stamped metal and topped by a squat copper helmet cap, rises past the second story and ties into the steeply pitched roof, punctuated by a central shed roof dormer.

"The Kern mansion was one of the first houses to be built of Wahl Avenue. It was described by the local press at the time of its completion as being of German Renaissance style. The house is, in fact, representative of the type of suburban villas then being built in the new suburbs of German cities, like Berlin, where architect Carl Barkhausen had studied. At the time of its construction, building houses in the architectural styles then most fashionable in Germany was all the rage among Milwaukee's wealthy German-American citizens. These people deliberately chose to emulate German styles rather than American ones, with the result that houses like the Kern residence are very distinctive and foreign looking, which is what makes them so interesting to look at today. The Kern house exhibits many of the German Renaissance Revival style's familiar elements, including the medieval looking corner bartizan or turret, massive, deep, arcaded entry porch and large front gable. The architects added some distinctive touches, such as the unusual reddish-orange brick and arcaded corbelling below the cornice. The typical German style gable is stepped in profile and trimmed with scrolls of red sandstone. The ornamental iron work, so popular with this style of house, was executed by master craftsman Cyril Colnik, who was one of the finest ironworkers of his time in the U.S. The house is said to be the first in Milwaukee built with a type of central air conditioning system.

John F. Kern (1862-1926) was the son of German immigrant John Baptiste Adolph Kern. He assumed the management, and later presidency, of his father's Eagle Flouring Mills when the latter died in 1892. Kern also served as the vice-president of the Kern Realty Co. John and his wife, Jessie Goll, herself the daughter of German immigrants, built this house when they were in their late 30s and lived here until they built a new house at 3233 N. Lake Drive in 1924. John F. Kern died in 1926, and Jessie died in 1933. The Kern House is in the City of Milwaukee's North Point North Historic District." MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994.
Bibliographic References:MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994. MILWAUKEE HISTORIC BUILDINGS TOUR: NORTH POINT, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF CITY DEVELOPMENT, 1994. Zimmermann, The Past in Our Present, v. 2, 82-85. Permit. Buildings of Wisconsin manuscript.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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