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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014

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St. James Court was not only designed by Ferry and Clas, but Alfred Clas even lived there.
St. James Court was not only designed by Ferry and Clas, but Alfred Clas even lived there.

Celebrating St. James Court

Earlier this summer in a blog posting about blocks of flats in Milwaukee, I mentioned St. James Court, 825-31 W. Wisconsin Ave., designed in 1895 and erected in 1903, by Ferry & Clas, and located directly across Wisconsin Avenue from the architects' Central Library.

Now, John Hennessey of the Hennessey Group, which owns and manages the building, tells us in an email that tomorrow, Tuesday, Oct. 1, Ald. Bob Bauman will be at the building at 5 p.m. to help celebrate St. James Court's 110th birthday and its addition to the National Register of Historic Places.

Hennessey says Bauman will "share insight regarding Saint James Court and on the role of historic buildings in downtown redevelopment.

"The design," Hennessey continues, "was influenced by certain concepts of the 'City Beautiful' movement which had been featured at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. In 1903, when the land became available, the Saint James Court Apartments were built on Milwaukee’s main street, Wisconsin Avenue. Alfred Clas of Ferry and Clas and numerous well known Milwaukeeans lived at Saint James Court over the years.

"Saint James Court stands at a special place on Wisconsin Avenue. This place, with its Court of Honor in the boulevard, venerable churches, the heavily-used and monumental Central Library, the popular Wisconsin Club and the Saint James Court building, is a living example of how built examples of City Beautiful principles continue to combine aesthetics and function to create a framework for society."

With 30 apartments in a variety of sizes, the six-story Saint James Court has been completely restored, beginning in 1994, in accordance with the U.S. Department of Interior’s standards for historic renovation, says Hennessey.

The apartments boast hardwood floors, decorative fireplaces, stained glass, claw-foot tubs and high ceilings. The building also has a mahogany and marble entrance and a restored birdcage elevator.

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The Eighth Street School version.
The Eighth Street School version.
The Maryland Avenue version.
The Maryland Avenue version.

Dustbusters: I ain't 'fraid of no dust

The world is full of minor mysteries and this weekend I stumbled upon an extremely minor one while leading an in-depth Doors Open Milwaukee tour of Maryland Avenue Montessori School.

Up in the attic, I found a circular symbol drawn in chalk on one of the walls. In the center of the circle is a bat with the letter "A" and the date "1991" beneath it. Around the outside above the circle is the word, "Dustbusters" and on the bottom, two names: "Dave R." and "John W."

I'd likely seen this before and paid it no mind. But this time it caught my eye because when I was up in the attic at Eighth Street School a couple weeks ago, I saw nearly the same symbol drawn in chalk.

The same circle, with two shaded sections flanking the bat. The same 1991 date. Dust Busters, now two words, at the top and "John" and "Dave" listed a bit off center, to the left, with no last name initial and no "A" beneath the bat.

I tried a little Google search and all that came up was a listing for a cleaning company in Milwaukee called "Dust Busters." While this seems like a possible connection, would a cleaning company actually deface property with graffiti (even if, really, no one seems to mind much, and in neither case were these so-called Dust Busters the first to chalk something up in these attics)?

Yesterday, I posted the pictures on Facebook hoping to learn a bit more but that, so far, has led nowhere. Do you know these Dust Busters? Have you seen this symbol elsewhere in town?

Inquiring minds want to know.

"Barracuda in the Attic" is published by Fantagraphics Books.
"Barracuda in the Attic" is published by Fantagraphics Books.

Shooting pool with the doomed and going to the World Series on a school day

I admit I initially wondered why Milwaukee’s Kipp Friedman had written a memoir. But that’s before I really knew the slightest thing about him.

Thankfully, "Barracuda In the Attic: A Memoir by the Latest Member of a Comedic Dynasty," published in hardcover by Fantagraphics Books, makes it all quite clear.

Friedman, you see, is the son of Bruce Jay Friedman – a novelist, actor, screenwriter and playwright whose many credits include "Stir Crazy," "You’ve Got Mail," "Doctor Detroit," "Splash" and this year’s "Brazzaville Teen-Ager," which he co-wrote with Michael Cera.

As the scion of a successful, respected writer, Friedman – like me a New York ex-pat making a life in Brew City – lived the kind of life in the Big Apple that wasn’t really as open to the son of a cop, even if he did fingerprint David Berkowitz.

Friedman, at age 12, shot pool with with Crazy Joe Gallo at Jerry Orbach’s Greenwich Village brownstone just weeks before Gallo’s bloody demise at Umberto’s Clam House, an eatery from which my grandmother got – presumably by slipping it unseen into her purse – a ceramic ashtray that I prize.

Friedman dined at Elaine’s with his father. He knows that it’s worth pointing out that he recalls dining at table No. 4. But the real point is that he remembers the night that DeNiro, Pacino and Giannini strolled in. It was the same night Woody Allen dined with friends at the table adjacent to the Friedmans’. I can remember eating at a diner on the corner of 11th Street and 2nd Avenue a few times.

Above all and most importantly, Friedman’s dad took him to Game 3 of the 1969 World Series, at Shea ... ON A SCHOOL DAY!

Kipp Friedman is my hero.

He will appear at Boswell Book Co., 2559 N. Downer Ave., on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. to talk about and sign copies of "Barracuda In the Attic."

For the record, on Oct. 14, 1969, the Mets whooped the O’s, 5-0, to break the series tie. Gary Gentry allowed just three hits in notching the win and a…

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Gouda's Italian Deli is located in the former Centanni space at 218 N. Water St.
Gouda's Italian Deli is located in the former Centanni space at 218 N. Water St.
There's a deli stocked with cheeses and charcuterie that offers a range of cold sandwiches and panini.
There's a deli stocked with cheeses and charcuterie that offers a range of cold sandwiches and panini.
Gouda's also stocks a range of Italian specialties, from coffee to cookies, pasta to wine.
Gouda's also stocks a range of Italian specialties, from coffee to cookies, pasta to wine.
Gouda's opened yesterday, but today is its first full day.
Gouda's opened yesterday, but today is its first full day.

Gouda's Italian Deli is up and running

Gouda's Italian Deli, owned by SURG's Mike Polaski flung its doors open yesterday, but is running its first full day of service today at 218 N. Water St. – the former Centanni space – in the Third Ward.

Attractively decked out with dark wood shelving, patterned tin ceiling and baskets and other decor suggesting a classic "old neighborhood" grocery shop, Gouda's serves a range of cold sandwiches and panini, alongside a selection of Italian specialties.

On the shelves are select varieties of pastas, condiments, tuna, bread sticks, wine, soda, bottled water, coffee, San Marzano tomato sauce and other items.

The deli case houses a range of cheeses and charcuterie including prosciutto imported from Italy and Canada, but otherwise heavily sourced from New London's Hidden Creek Farm.

You can select from five cold sandwiches, like the Gouda Special ($6.95) – roast beef, gouda and pepperoncini – a trio of panini, like the campagniola, which I had for lunch today. It's prosciutto, provolone and arugula toasted on Italian bread from Sciortino ($7.95).

Customers can also make their own sandwiches ($6.95) choosing one meat, one cheese and anything for a list of basic toppings (lettuce, tomato, mayo, etc.). Extras like eggplant, roasted peppers and fresh mozzarella can be added for $1 a piece.

A promised speakeasy, called Bugsy's has not yet opened.

And for the record, I'm still trying to find out why an Italian deli is named for a Dutch cheese. The friendly fellow who made my sandwich didn't know. We agreed it might just end up being one of life's little mysteries.