Yesterday, I stumbled upon a 1926 article about the earliest architects working in Milwaukee. One sentence particularly caught my attention.
The 1926 article, which appeared in the pages of The Wisconsin Magazine of History, is "Early Day Architects in Milwaukee," written by Alexander Carl Guth â€“ himself an architect, who had served as secretary of the Wisconsin chapter of the American Institute of Architects and of whom Time magazine once described as a, "recent ardent convert to modernism," noting that on a tour of Milwaukee Guth, "said a few words to set Milwaukee conservatives' hair acurl."
The line: "Carl F. Ringer, Sr., can well lay claim to the fact that he is today the dean of Milwaukee architects."
My fingers couldn't click over to Google fast enough. I learned that Ringer, who worked in the city as an architect since 1881, had also served as city building inspector in 1911-12 and was a member of the Harbor Commission board, too.
When he died in April 1939 at the age of 88 he was remembered as a pioneer of the Socialist movement in Milwaukee, too.
Learning about Ringer is starting to remind me of when I first heard of Charles Malig and the effect he had on Milwaukee's landscape.
I was most interested to learn that Ringer was the architect of Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church/Bethel Baptist Church, 2030 W. North Ave., a church I pass often and wonder about nearly every time I see it.
Because it sits on a high point along North Avenue, the cream city brick church is visible for a good distance along the avenue.
Like his contemporary, Henry C. Koch, Ringer was born in Germany and got his start in Milwaukee in the office of George Mygatt. He also worked as an apprentice to Edward Townsend Mix and as construction foreman for James Douglas. Those are pretty stellar credentials.
Ringer struck out on his own in 1881 and according to the historic designation prepared on the church, Zion was one of his first major commissions. (Though the two towers that flank the taller main tower were added in 1908 and designed by architects Herman Bruns and Benedict Bruns.)
"Ringer was adept at working in the period revival and commercial architectural styles of his day and his designs were popular with the city's German-American patrons," the report says.
"He is also believed to have maintained strong family and social ties with his German homeland where, incidentally, his sister Bertha lived with her husband Carl Benz, who was one of the designers of the Mercedes-Benz automobile."
It was in 1911 that socialist mayor Emil Seidel appointed Ringer building inspector, though he only held the post until a new mayor, Gerhard Bading, was elected the following year.
"Bading reportedly clashed with his inspector over a building permit Ringer granted to make structural repairs to a downtown building that the mayor wanted torn down," the report says.
"Ringer challenged his firing and took the matter to the state Supreme Court where he won a decision in his favor in August, 1912 and was reinstated to his position will full back pay. Feeling vindicated, however, Ringer immediately submitted his resignation. His victory was sweetened after the controversial building was repaired and then kept in service for years after that."
Afterward, Ringer went back to his firm, which by then became C.F. Ringer & Son, because his son, Carl Jr., had come on board in 1904. Ringer kept working until his death and among the other extant buildings drawn by the firm are the 1981 Meinecke Toy Company, across from the Milwaukee Rep, at 110 E. Wells St.; the crocker wholesaler Edward Wild's house at 2932 W. McKinley Blvd.; andÂ the cool 1927 Â Frei Gemeinde Society Clubhouse on Fond du Lac Avenue near 26th Street.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Feb. 11, 2016
Thanks to Milwaukeean and photographer Adam Levin, who found a treasure trove of old Kodachrome half-frame slides of Milwaukee in an antiques store, we can offer up these gorgeous photos of the city as it appeared in the 1970s.
Published Feb. 6, 2016
Milwaukee is and has always been America's beer capital, so it makes perfect sense that the country's first African American brewery was born here thanks to Theodore Mack, Henry Crosby and their cohorts.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
The '50s might seem like light years away, but, really, you can get there in under an hour, by checking out some of these classic dining spots - including some drive-ins with car hops - in Kenosha.
Published Feb. 5, 2016
Despite the fact that it's cold outside, I wake up in the middle of the night a lot these days thinking about frozen custard. That's because I'm co-authoring a book about this delicacy at the moment and it's consuming me even more than I consume custard, which is saying something.
Published Feb. 1, 2016
Now that the Tippecanoe Library revamp is complete, attention is turning fully toward a mixed-use development that will replace the Mill Road branch. Here are some facts about the planned new library development at 7717 W. Good Hope Rd.
Published Jan. 29, 2016
Two turntables and a microphone has morphed into a laptop. But not all club DJs have given vinyl the toss. We caught up with Steven Watkins, who DJs at numerous venues around town, playing a variety of music to ask him about working as an "unplugged" turntablist.
Published Jan. 27, 2016
We're celebrating unplugged week here at OnMilwaukee - ironic, I know - but it's a perfect reminder that there is plenty to get out and do in this town if you'd just put the damn phone down for a minute (yes, guilty as charged). Here are six museums and shows worth checking out right now...
Published Jan. 26, 2016
Another remnant of old Milwaukee will soon disappear from the landscape as workers begin to deconstruct the four-story, 16-flat Vermont, 610 E. Mason St., to make way for Northwestern Mutual's 33-story, more than $100 million development that will occupy nearly the entire block.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Each year on Jan. 25, Scotland and Scot-o-philes and poetry fans celebrate Burns Night to mark the birthday of the legendary voice of Caledonia, Robert Burns. Get in the spirit with some single malts from Islay.
Published Jan. 25, 2016
Has a book as gripping and engaging as Nicholas Petrie's crime novel, "The Drifter," ever been written about Milwaukee? Interweaving terrorism, homelessness, veterans and Riverwest, the book is a compelling page-turner.