By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 19, 2023 at 8:24 AM

As developers work to create housing in the former North Milwaukee High School – later Custer High and then Edison Middle School – Wisconsin has added the building, 5372 N. 37th St., to its register of historic places.

In making the announcement this week, The Wisconsin Historical Society called the building, "an excellent example of a Progressive Era high school, reflecting trends in secondary education that led to the construction of dedicated high school facilities across the state in the early decades of the 20th century.

"The interior spaces of the school ... reflect the growing emphasis on providing vocational training, physical education, and music and arts instruction in addition to the traditional academic curriculum."

The building was erected in phases the 1920s as home to North Milwaukee High School. When the area was annexed to the City of Milwaukee in 1929, MPS renamed the school Custer, after the street where it was located.

Later, when Custer moved to a new building in 1955, the school became Edison Middle School.

You can read a deeper history and see interior and historic photos in this Urban Spelunking story.

Gorman & Co., which has renovated former MPS school buildings into apartments, is planing a similar development in the building, which closed as a school in 2007.

The designation could aid Gorman in securing historic tax credits as part of its financing package for the affordable housing plan.

When it announced the $20 million project – which includes 64 affordable apartments with another 11 affordable townhouse units on the site – the Oregon, Wisconsin-based company said it would also seek federal affordable housing tax credits.

Gorman has closed on the property and has begun interior demolition and remediation work. The project is expected to be completed in mid-2024.

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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.