The Iron Block Building is located at the intersection of East Wisconsin Avenue and North Water Street in Milwaukee. It is the only remaining cast iron building in Wisconsin. Historic preservation is the goal for this 150 year old building. It was originally built in 1860 when cast iron buildings were increasingly popular in New York, Chicago or Milwaukee because they were much more efficient to assemble. Originally commissioned by J.B. Martin after viewing other structures by D.D. Badger Co. assembled in New York. Martin was impressed with the facades of the buildings and ordered one to be built in Milwaukee. 
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This is the third major renovation to the building since it was built. In 1898 the building to the right in the photo burned down causing the roof to need rebuilding and the redesign of some of the 4th floor. Shockingly, many artifacts have been found during the 2012 renovation from that fire including shards of chimney structure and other burned pieces found in the walls.

In 1984 there was a large renovation done to the exterior to reverse weathering. The interior was refurbished to accommodate the modern businesses. 

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The renovation that Dental Associates began in 2012 is to bring the image of the building back to its original appearance. The renovations include sandblasting and cleaning the facades. The goal is to “restore the building to the same look it had when Lincoln was still President”. Other remnants have been found in the walls and attic of the building including a dental chair from the 1930’s! How ironic! This progress can be followed Here

The Iron Block Building is a landmark in the history of Milwaukee. These preservations are important to maintaining our nation’s history, and more important our local history. Congratulations to all involved in keeping the deep history of Milwaukee alive! The renovations are scheduled to be fully completed by this summer!

Sources:
Building History. (2012). In Dental Associates Iron Block. Retrieved March 23, 2013, from
http://ironblockbuilding.com/ib-building-history/ 

Milwaukee: A Half-Century of Progress. Retrieved March 28, 2013 from Google Books
Milwaukee_a_half_century_s_progress_1846

Historic Americans Building Survey: Iron Block Building, Retrieved March 29, 2013
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/pnp/habshaer/wi/wi0000/wi0030/data/wi0030data.pdf

By Dustin Hochmuth,
Museum Intern, UW-Whitewater Communications Major

 


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