By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 13, 2015 at 11:02 AM Photography: Sarah Laux

If you’re champing at the bit for the next Doors Open MKE, you’ll have to wait until September. But you can get your hometown exploration fix thanks to DOMKE’s elder Historic Milwaukee Inc. sibling, Spaces and Traces, which is back for its 34th year this weekend.

The event focuses on Layton Boulevard neighborhoods on Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Tickets are $25 ($20 for HMI members).

"Spaces and Traces is our 1-day in-depth neighborhood tour," says HMI Executive Director Stacy Swadish. "This is our 34th year, which is pretty amazing for any nonprofit group to have the same tour continue on with volunteer help for so long."

The sites include private homes, a firehouse, a religious complex and more – all located in three adjoining neighborhoods: Burnham Park, Silver City and Clarke Square.

"These are all great vibrant, walkable, affordable neighborhoods," says Swadish. "It's just really exciting. We were last in the Layton Boulevard neighborhood in 1987. That time, it really focused primarily on the boulevard. This time we went off the boulevard to look for some hidden gems."

Ascension Lutheran Church, 1236 S. Layton Blvd., and the School Sisters of St. Francis, 1515 S. Layton Blvd., serve as tour headquarters, but maps are available at all the sites (a map is embedded below).

The weekend kicks off with a reception Thursday, May 14 at the Halls of History at Forest Home Cemetery. John Gurda gives a talk at 1:30 p.m. on tour day at St. Joseph Chapel, 1501 S. Layton Blvd.

Here are six Spaces and Traces 2015 sites you won’t want to miss, from south to north:

1. Frank Lloyd Wright System-Built Homes, 2700 block, West Burnham Street


(Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

Don't miss this opportunity to see a great collection of Wright designs clustered in a single spot. You can even go inside one of the renovated homes, which – when you consider the spaciousness in relation to the tiny footprint – will astonish you.

2. St. Joseph Chapel, 1515 S. Layton Blvd.


(Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

You'll get an in-depth look at this historic Milwaukee religious complex, including Brust & Philipp's beautiful St. Joseph Chapel. But, sorry, no tunnels for you this time.

3. Ascension Lutheran Church, 1236 S. Layton Blvd.

You pretty much have to stop at Ascension anyway, since it's one of the event headquarters, but while you're there, check out the nice collection of stained glass windows, including one above the altar done in a Tiffany-ish style (though not by Tiffany). I like that the north windows are heavy on blues and the ones opposite are executed in earthier hues. This is the 1920s building (with at least two additions) that replaced the church's first brick home on 2nd and Scott. Some of the multi-ethnic congregation's Hmong members will be on-hand selling egg rolls, as a bonus.

4. Eschweiler-designed Manegold House, 1202 S. Layton Blvd.

Ascension next door briefly owned this stunning arts and crafts home drawn by Milwaukee's Alexander Eschweiler – completed in 1913 – which has been lovingly restored by current owners Matthew and Janelle Gramling. Read Joanne Kempinger Demski's in-depth story about the place here. It's crazy, but the Gramlings bought the place before they realized Matthew's great-grandfather had owned it previously and that his grandfather grew up there!

5. Sebastian Brand's Engine Co. 26


(Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

The likely reason the Manegold House wasn't totally lost to fire in 2002 is thanks to its location in full view of Sebastian Brand's gorgeous 1903 cream city brick Romanesque/Queen Anne firehouse on the corner of 26th and Scott. It's one of 30 firehouses that Brand – a fireman, not an architect  – designed for the city, while continuing to work as a firefighter. See another example and learn a bit more about Brand, a German immigrant, here.

6. Franz Falk's Bavaria Brewery, 639 S. 29th St.


(Photo: Bobby Tanzilo)

Alas, you can't enter the dilapidated site of one of Milwaukee's early breweries, but you can peek in. Read our spelunking tour and history of the place before you go.

Be sure to fill out a questionnaire after you tour the sites. HMI is seeking input about next year’s featured neighborhood.

"We're really thinking about possibly going back to Bay View. It's been many years since we were there," says Swadish. "We’ve only left the city limits of Milwaukee twice. Once with Shorewood and then West Allis years ago. We are considering Glendale (or) North Point, near the lighthouse. People love mansions. Those are our top four right now."

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 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.