20 Blocks Away Milwaukee: Milwaukee City Hall

My mother’s hobby is spending hours finding out new details on our family’s ancestry every week. But while her focus spans on learning every country we had a past family member located, I like to focus on more on the history of where I’m living while I’m living, which in this case is Milwaukee. When considering the next place to travel to, it was hard for me to ignore one of the oldest fixtures in the city of Milwaukee, Milwaukee City Hall.

The History:

Milwaukee City Hall built by Henry H. Koch and finished in 1895. At 353 feet tall, the National Historic Landmark was the second tallest building in the nation at the time (behing the Washington Monument). It has also housed three Socialist mayors including two from 1916-1940 and 1948-1960 (Daniel Hoan and Frank Zeidler).

The Architecture:

Milwaukee City Hall was designed in the Flemish Renaissance Revival style of architecture. It’s difficult to locate a singular country of origin because the Renaissance swept through all of Europe, so naturally many cultures blended techniques. I was luckily able to find a strictly Flemish example of this architecture in a home in Manhattan, NY. It is characterized by its emphasis on symmetry and geometry from columns, arches, and domes. The revival description meant that the style of architecture was utilized in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


The architecture of the actual building features over eight million bricks, with up to almost half that many in the bell tower alone. The building stands at 353 feet with 8 floors of usable offices including the Treasurer’s office, the Common Council’s office, and the mayor’s office. The hallways are noticeably skinnier like much of the architecture from the 19th and 20th centuries and the higher you go, the more the heights feel daunting

The Takeaway:

While I may have only learned a few history tidbits and scared myself with the heights, I thought it was worth dropping by for a few minutes if you’re in the city.