By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Apr 23, 2015 at 9:02 AM

Take a tour around one of the Milwaukee area's most beautiful old schoolhouses, now home to the West Allis Historical Society, 8405 W. National Ave.

The Romanesque Revival schoolhouse at the corner of 84th and National was designed by architect Herman P. Schnetzky and built in 1887 as the Greenfield School. It replaced a previous schoolhouse on the site – and was constructed from some of the bricks from that building – and served children through 1923, its name having been changed to the Garfield School.

Around the same time, Schnetzky, who had just left his partnership with Henry C. Koch, was also designing a pair of Romanesque schools for MPS – 5th Street and Walnut Street Schools – and later, in 1892-93 with then-partner Eugene Liebert, designed a major expansion for Maryland Avenue as well as a school for St. Stephen's Lutheran Church in Walker's Point.

After it ceased to operate as a school, the city of West Allis continued to use the building for meetings, to house various departments and for storage. Since 1966 it has been home to the West Allis Historical Society, which has kept one of the two classrooms set up as a school room, with rows of desks engraved with decades-old graffiti.

Here is an illustrated tour of the building...

The exterior hasn't changed much...

...except for the bell tower, which was replaced.

Beautiful Romanesque Revival arches above the entrance

Not many folks smiling here and certainly not the teachers

Chalk rails in every room

Wainscoting everywhere

Decades-old graffiti is carved into the desks

Original hardwood floors



Transoms survive, unlike in many period schoolhouses

December 4, 1912

Teachers should have spent more time on spelling

Carpenters' work in the attic

Attic graffiti from 1900

The ladder up to the bell tower

Climbing through the scuttle hatch

The bell

No pigeon poop up here

19th century recycling

The sign has moved inside and up to the attic

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 an episode of TV's "Party of Five," 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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.