By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 09, 2021 at 10:02 AM

If an application is approved by the Historic Preservation Commission and the Common Council, a row of seven distinctive workers cottages along South Superior Street in Bay View could become a historic district.

The cottages, which like the east side of the 2500 block of South Superior, between Russell Avenue and Ontario Street, are already part of the Bay View Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982.

The 1982 designation does not protect the homes.

Bay View cottage
(PHOTOS: Joe Paterick / HPC application)

The Puddlers’ Cottages Historic District, proposed by Bay View resident Joe Paterick, would require that any changes to the exteriors of the seven small private homes be approved by the city’s HPC.

A second application, this one seeking temporary designation for the house at 2830 S. Superior St., was also filed. Such designation would apply to the house – sold last fall – for 180 days, if approved.

According to the applications, while Paterick lives in one of the homes, he does not own that house.

The new owner of 2830, Ryan Konicek, told Urban Milwaukee that he does not intend to tear down the house.

The homes, dotted around this part of Bay View, were built for workers at the nearby rolling mills as early as 1867 – the records offer conflicting dates – and, according to Paterick’s application, they represent, “one of few remaining clusters of workers cottages remaining in Bay View. They characterized the early years of the community but have been subject to more frequent teardowns.”

The 1982 report for the landmarking of the Bay View Historic District notes, “Although they all have been altered somewhat, they are still clearly recognizable as the single-story, frame, gable-roofed, rectangular cottages built by the Milwaukee Iron Company on the land it purchased and subdivided to provide for employee housing.

“Eber Ward, the mill’s founder, who believed that home ownership produced steady workers and respectable citizens, made the houses available to his employees on easy payment terms. Interestingly, when wages were cut, he lowered the payments, and when the mill temporarily closed, he suspended them.”

Puddlers were high-status employees at the rolling mill, which closed in 1929, and occupied a large site just northeast of the homes.

One of the homes listed in that report has seen been razed; sadly, it was the one that was most intact and perhaps the oldest, built in 1867. The report noted the surviving homes may have been built around the same time.

“Of the group, 2524 S. Superior appears to be the least changed; no major alterations are recorded. ... The others have received new porches, new siding and/or various minor additions over the years.”

Another cottage nearby, at 2556 S. Shore Dr., was torn down in 2020 to be replaced with a new home.

The applications, signed by Paterick on Feb. 2, did not make it onto the agenda of the Feb. 8 meeting of the Historic Preservation Commission.

According to HPC Senior Planner Tim Askin, special meetings are being scheduled for both discussions, with the temporary designation of 2530 meeting taking place on Feb. 24 at 3 p.m.

A meeting on the permanent designation of all seven homes is set for March 18 at 3 p.m.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.