By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 06, 2023 at 1:25 PM

The Wisconsin Historical Society recently announced that two Milwaukee buildings – the Underwriters Exchange Building, 828 N. Broadway, and the Milwaukee Protestant Home for the Aged, 2449 N. Downer Ave. – were added to the National Register of Historic Places on March 10.

Both buildings were added to the state register in February. Being added to these registers can help building owners access historic tax credits for renovation work.

The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the National Park Service.

Underwriters Exchange
Underwriters Exchange Building.

The Gothic Revival Underwriters Exchange Building, built in 1924 with a ninth-floor addition two years later, was designed by Rosman & Wierdsma. 

When it opened it was a hub of insurance business in the city, with more than 40 insurance firms renting offices. This connection endured for more than a quarter-century.

Local music scene trainspotters may remember the top two floors – including that rooftop addition – as an early home to Don’t Records, which released music by Willy Porter, Paul Cebar and Citizen King.

In recent years, the building was acquired by a developer who planned a $15 million project that converted the mostly vacant offices into apartments called Streetcar Flats.

Over on the East Side, the Protestant Home was built in 1892 to designs by Henry C. Koch, who drew City Hall, Gesu Church, Turner Hall, The Pfister Hotel and others.

Koch and Herman Esser designed an 1899 addition. Later, additions were draws by Fitzhugh Scott and MacDonald Mayer Architects (1926)  and William P. Wenzler (1963). More recent sections were added in 2000 and 2006.

“The Milwaukee Protestant Home for the Aged continues to serve as one of Milwaukee’s oldest operating senior housing facilities,” writes the Wisconsin Historical Society.” The organization was originally established in 1884 as a ‘home for aged persons who are unable to care or provide for themselves.’

“Additions were constructed in 1897, 1926, 1963, 2000 and 2006, all of which effectively highlight the growing field of geriatric care. Today, the Milwaukee Protestant Home for the Aged continues to serve its original purpose as a privately owned senior facility.”

The home was located in an area that over the years has been full of community-focused buildings, including the Milwaukee Catholic Home, the 18th Ward School (now Maryland Avenue Montessori), Milwaukee Orphan Asylum, St. Rose’s Orphan Asylum, St. Mary’s Hospital and the Girls Industrial School.

For more on the Underwriters Exchange, click here. To learn more about the Protestant Home, click here.

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.