Auer Avenue School, circa 1927, when it enrolled nearly 1,000 students and you could see the front of the building.
Auer Avenue School, circa 1927, when it enrolled nearly 1,000 students and you could see the front of the building. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

Can you help find Auer Avenue School's oldest alumnus?

As Auer Avenue Community School prepares to celebrate its 105th anniversary next month, its community is trying to find the oldest living alumnus of the school, which opened in 1903 and is located at 2319 W. Auer Ave.

The 105th Birthday and Alumni Reunion is slated for Saturday, May 6, from noon until 3 p.m. at the school, which is currently one of seven MPS community schools that partner with United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County to provide a wide range of services to help students succeed.

According to notes shared by the school’s community school coordinator, Michelle Allison, Auer is the 22nd-oldest school in MPS. The building – it closely resembles a number of MPS schools erected around the same time, including 37th Street and Siefert, the latter of which is credited to the same architect as Auer, George Ehlers – was originally designated Twentieth District No. 4 (having been located in what was then the 20th Ward).

Like all schools, it was renamed for its location in 1912. In this case the name was an especially appropriate one, because the street was named for Louis Auer Jr.

According to Carl Baehr’s "Milwaukee Streets: The Stories Behind the Names," Auer was a real estate developer known for building apartments suitable for families. Unlike many apartments, Auer’s included playgrounds, courtyards and soundproofing.

According to Baehr, the German-born Auer "even gave gave free rent during the month a baby was born in one of his flats, earning him the title ‘The Baby Flat Landlord’."

Auer’s father, Baehr notes, was also a member of the school board, as well as an alderman and county supervisor.

The lovely building with its five tall, arched window bays flooding light into the third-floor gym has a rather unfortunately sited addition – plopped right onto the front of the building in 1967 – that houses middle school classrooms and school support staff.

Fifty-five staff members educate an enrollment of 287 students at Auer this year. Interestingly – nay, astonishingly – the school had an enrollment of 932 in 1927! In a smaller, pre-addition building.

"Our goal is to be an instrumental part of preparing students to be college-ready and productive citizens," writes Allison.

"Auer Avenue Community School works to better engage and align resources centered on the needs of the community. We focus on educating the whole child with the understanding that a child belongs to the family, living and interacting within the larger community. Auer Avenue offers a standards-based curriculum emphasizing higher-level thinking and research-based instruction."

The birthday party event is open to all alumni, past and present staff, students and families and community partners. A celebration program will be followed by a cake and punch reception, tours of the school and photo opportunities. The school is also selling a commemorative T-shirt.

Do you know someone who attended Auer? Spread the word. Did you mom or dad, or grandma or grandpa go there? Could they be the oldest Auer alumni?

For more information, contact Michelle Allison at (414) 875-4636 or via email at allisomx@milwaukee.k12.wi.us.

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