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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, July 25, 2014

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Carl Barkhausen's Highland Avenue Methodist Church, built in 1891.
Carl Barkhausen's Highland Avenue Methodist Church, built in 1891.
Check out the unusual steeple.
Check out the unusual steeple.
A wider view of the church. (Photo: Freekee, Wikimedia Commons)
A wider view of the church. (Photo: Freekee, Wikimedia Commons)
An interior view. (Photo: Rehoboth New Life Center, Facebook)
An interior view. (Photo: Rehoboth New Life Center, Facebook)

Don't blink or you could miss this Barkhausen gem

Every week I drive past this place on 21st and Highland and it catches my eye. Though I haven't stopped and knocked on the door yet, I've been doing a little digging to see what I can find about the church at 1102 N. 21st St.

The small, but attractive orange pressed brick church -- which seems to also go by the address 2026 W. Highland Ave. -- is currently home to Rehoboth New Life Center, an apostolic congregation led by Pastor Mike Brownie, who according to the church's website is licensed by the United Pentecostal Church International's Wisconsin district.

But this gothic revival gem with terra cotta trim was designed by Carl Barkhausen and built in 1891 for the First German Methodist Congregation, which had left its digs 10 blocks east in what is now best known as the Forst Keller building, 1037 W. Highland Ave., on the former Pabst Brewery site.

Barkhausen is best-known for his work in partnership with Charles Crane: the German-English Academy, Schuster House on 32nd and Wells, the Button Block (the building occupied by Joey Buona's) on Water and Clybourn.

The Forst Keller building was actually the second building occupied by the congregation, which was organized in 1846. Its first home was also on Highland, near 5th Street.

Though the quirky steeple on the 21st and Highland building -- which Russell Zimmermann points out in his "Heritage Guidebook," "makes the transition from square to octagonal by splitting into one large and four small spires" -- is perhaps the most interesting element of the building, my eye has always been drawn to the row of four arched windows directly below it.

The church, which has also been home to the Solomon Community Temple, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

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