By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 21, 2013 at 10:02 AM

In researching Milwaukee history, I've come across numerous mentions of local figures having lived in this or that block of flats, almost always listed by building name, and only sometimes with an address added.

Downtown Milwaukee and the lower east side were full of small apartment buildings that were blocks of flats. And despite the fact that there were many, folks seemed to know them pretty well. After all, what point is there in noting that so and so moved to Milwaukee and took a flat at, say, The Aurora, if no one knew where The Aurora was located and, most likely, what sort of status moving into The Aurora connoted?

Though entire blocks of apartment buildings have long since vanished Downtown – including some storied ones like The Norman (on Wisconsin Avenue between 6th and 7th) – others remain.

A few that immediately spring to mind are Ferry & Clas' 1894 Badger Apartments, 1103 N. Water St. (home to Water Street Brewery); The Van Buren Apartments, 1104 N. Van Buren St. (built in 1917, architect: Walter Newmann); The Vermont, 610 E. Mason St. (1898); Leenhouts and Guthrie's 1916 Blackstone on Juneau and Van Buren; The Beaumont (1900), 1227 N. Milwaukee St.; C. F. Ringer's 1894 Trenkamp Flats on Milwaukee and Knapp Streets; Crane and Barkhausen's Comstock Apartments, 828 N. Milwaukee St.

And there are others, to be sure.

One of my favorites is The Everett, 815 E. Knapp St., a colonial revival gem that is now four condos, erected in 1900. In addition to its handsome bays, The Everett has a great fan-like scallop shell detail above the entrance.

Another is the St. James Court Apartments, 831 W. Wisconsin Ave., built in 1903. It was designed by Ferry & Clas, whose 1898 Central Library sits directly across the boulevarded segment of Wisconsin Avenue. Though I've never been inside, I hear it's loaded with stained glass, great woodwork, a birdcage elevator and other period details.

I'm a big fan of the building's entrance which faces St. James Episcopal Church (1867) to the west, rather than to the avenue, creating a little courtyard.

These flats remind us of Milwaukee's urbane character at the dawn of the 20th century and offer a glimpse into what the city was like a century ago.

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.