Before I lived on the West Side and before I became a daily runner, I never really spent much time in the Washington Highlands in Wauwatosa.
But now, it’s one of my favorite places to run because it’s hilly, the streets curve around in interesting ways and, above all, there are plenty of interesting houses to catch my eye.
One of them, which looks almost like a house right in front of another house, is for sale.
The Spanish Eclectic-style home at 1723 Alta Vista Ave., built on a rise in 1926 and with a lovely stone wall running along the sidewalk, is on the market now for just under $825,000.
The 4,048-square-foot single-family home is on a third-of-an-acre lot on a boulevarded section of its street. It has five bedrooms and four bathrooms.
(A number of its neighbors have in-ground pools, should you happen to stop on over, you know, unexpectedly.)
The tall chimney with an arched opening near the top is one of the most eye-catching exterior details.
The home is one of a number of neighborhood examples of its architectural style – sometimes called Spanish Colonial Revival – and it was designed by Jas. B. Cowper, who was also the builder.
The home's original owner was George F. Moss, who spent $20,000 to build it. The Moss family remained in the home until the 1950s.
“Houses in the Spanish Eclectic style are based on the historic archi tecture of Spain – whether exhibiting Moorish, Byzantine, Gothic or Renaissance influences,” notes the 1989 registration form for the National Historic District in which the house is located.
“The style gained popularity after the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, in which architect Bertram Grosvenor Goodhue displayed his thorough knowledge of the Spanish Colonial architecture found throughout Latin America.
“This widely publicized exhibition inspired the fashionable architects of the 1920s and 1930s to look to Spain for design source material. Although the style is often called ‘Spanish Colonial Revival,’ the eclectic nature of the designs found in the Highlands is better described as ‘Spanish Eclectic.’ The highly rustic materials used in these houses, and throughout the Highlands, give the buildings in this district an unusal eclectic character.”
From the street the home almost looks like a flat-roofed single-story home with a two-story gabled house behind it, though the central section of the front does have a gable.
These homes tend to have stucco, brick or stone exteriors, loggia-style porches, half-round arched doors and/or windows, low-pitched roofs and asymmetrically arranged windows of different sizes, among other features.
The report, which says the Highlands neighborhood has four subsets of the style, notes that, “the houses in the Spanish Eclectic style were built in the 10-year period from 1925 to 1935,” making this one of the earlier examples.
The home has leaded glass windows, a natural fireplace, arched interior doorways, a sunroom, nice plaster detail, second-story porches, a three-season porch and a three-car attached garage.
Interestingly, the house also appears to have been an early base to Humble House, maker of the Sauerkrock home sauerkraut fermentation vessel, whose offices are now nearby on State Street.
The device was invented by homebrewers Cody and MacKenzie Connors and when they moved to Wauwatosa in 2017, they operated the business out of their home for a time.
"We did a ton of research on the original owners," says MacKenzie Connors. "It was built for the CEO/president of Western States Envelope and his family. His father was president (and founder) before him and was actually driving teddy roosevelt in the parade in Milwaukee when he was shot!"
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 OnMilwaukee.com 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.