By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jul 24, 2023 at 12:01 PM

One of the oldest buildings in Brookfield – the 1867 Brookfield Junction Depot – reopened Monday as home to Coffeeville cafe, 2825 N. Brookfield Rd.

The Italianate former train depot had previously been located 350 away at 2844 N. Brookfield Rd.

A rendering of the project. (PHOTO: Galbraith Carnahan)

The cafe is a second location for the Jackson-based coffee company, founded in 2016. Initially the former depot was to house a Fiddleheads Coffee location, but a final deal could not be reached.

“The historic train depot of 1867 in the village area, the second oldest building in the city, has a new lease on life as the latest location for The Coffeeville Company, a local organic coffee roaster,” said Brookfield Mayor Steve Ponto, who officially opened the cafe at an event this morning.

The interior carries the train depot theme. (PHOTO: Allie Gerschwiler)

“After decades of planning and over six years of coordinated city, county, state, and private development efforts, this new role, which includes serving as a trailhead for Waukesha County bike transportation, preserves the revitalized depot as the visual and social landmark overlooking the junction of the railroad tracks at this historic place for years to come.”

Coffeville’s Jackson location occupies a 19th century log home that owner Jack Kulwikowski spent two decades renovating.

He has spent three years on the Brookfield station, which opened with the assistance of a $250,000 Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and support from the City of Brookfield.

(PHOTO: Allie Gerschwiler)

Galbraith Carnahan Architects were the architects for the exterior portion of the project.

The interior design riffs on the station's railroad history.

The Milwaukee and Waukesha Railway was chartered in 1847 as the first railroad in Wisconsin, which became a state the following year. Service between Milwaukee and Waukesha was launched in 1851 by the company, which had been renamed the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railway (later it would become part of the Chicago, Milwaukee & St. Paul Railway).

Two years later, the first depot in Brookfield was built where the line crossed with a second one, operated by the Milwaukee & Watertown Railroad.

The current building was a replacement 16 years later. The station originally had a cupola on top with a clock, but that’s long gone.

The depot
How the depot appeared before the move and renovation. (PHOTO: Wisconsin Historical Society)

The station sparked much development around it, including a hotel, a post office, shops, taverns and a sawmill. In 1921, 22 trains a day stopped at the depot.

In more recent years, the depot sat vacant, wedged between two main line CP Rail tracks.

The City of Brookfield bought it from Canadian Pacific for $1, with the stipulation that it be moved.

“The depot is quite literally going to be a community hub for Brookfield,” said Sam Rikkers, deputy secretary and COO of WEDC, who was also at Monday’s opening. (Developer Ram Subedi of Noby Ventures was also on hand.)

(PHOTO: Wisconsin Historical Society)

“Serving as a trailhead for a Waukesha County bike trail, the depot is also an iconic entrance to the city’s historic village area. Meanwhile, Coffeeville is building its business by offering not only quality coffee and food but also a place for residents to gather and support local musicians, crafters and others.”

The cafe includes an addition to the renovated station building and an outdoor patio.

“We want people to feel comfortable,” said Kulwikowski. “But the main thing we offer here in Brookfield is an immersive experience to feel what it was like way back then. Everything is about quality, honoring history and providing an experience for customers.”

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.