PictureGarden Homes Construction, 1923
The Garden Homes housing project is the nation’s first and only municipally-built, public housing cooperative. The property, composed of 105 living units in 93 free-standing buildings constructed between 1921 and 1923, is bounded by North 27th Street and West Ruby, North Teutonia and West Atkinson avenues. Its origins can be traced to the 1910 municipal election of the nation’s first Socialist mayor, Emil Seidel. One of the planks of the Socialist platform was construction of city-built, low-cost homes for workers. Although Seidel failed to make public housing a reality during his term, Daniel W. Hoan, the city’s second Socialist mayor, succeeded.

PictureGarden Homes Construction, 1923
In 1920, the lack of adequate working-class housing was the key issue in the community. The Garden Homes Company was formally incorporated in 1921 under new legislation that allowed the formation of public housing corporations. It was originally intended to provide housing for families earning a modest $1,200 to $1,500 a year. Occupants would purchase housing corporation common stock equal to the value of the house. Monthly payments would be spread over 20 years that were to cover interest, taxes, upkeep and other fixed costs. The project would be financed through sale of preferred stock with 5% per annum dividend which would be purchased by city and county governments and other investors. The goal was a home built at a cost of $4,500, about 25% less than a comparable home, which a family would own, or be owned by the cooperative.

PictureAerial Section of Garden Homes, 2016
Not everyone was in favor of this project or loved the idea of public housing. According to a Milwaukee Sentinel report some opposed the plan because it "hinted something strongly of Sovietism” and some believed it did not guarantee individual ownership of the homes.  Some thought success with this project would bolster the Socialist Party in the county, and other business leaders, real estate boards, and politicians were upset about the high, union scale wages being paid to the workers. The Town of Wauwatosa and Town of Milwaukee were upset about plans by the City of Milwaukee to annex the area. Milwaukee, however, eventually won a decision in 1925 in the Wisconsin Supreme Court that approved the annexation. Some disgruntled Garden Home residents wanted individual titles to their properties so that they could sell them at appreciated values.  This led to the cooperative being disbanded in July of 1925. With this change to individual ownership, the Garden Homes Company functioned only to sell the housing stock and pay off all loans—a process that took more than ten years. By the late 1930s only about 40% of the original tenants still lived in the subdivision.

The Garden Homes Historic District in Milwaukee, Wisconsin was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1990.
Despite its problems, Garden Homes was an exercise in American ingenuity. Costs were cut by using a standardized building plan and production line techniques utilizing the crews of tradesmen to work from one house to the next performing the same job each time. But most of all, the Socialists showed the citizens of Milwaukee that when they made a promise, they kept it. 

By Steve Daily
Director, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear

PictureMilwaukee Water Treatment Facility, 1910
When Daniel W. Hoan was elected mayor in 1916, he asked the U.S. Public Health Service to examine the condition of Milwaukee’s water and see if they would recommend a filtration plant. He also directed that work be resumed on the long-time pet project of the Socialists, the Linnwood Avenue intake which had begun in 1912, but had been halted when funding ran out. The Public Health Service report recommended immediate construction of a modern filtration plant to prevent “morbidity and mortality from typhoid fever now caused by the polluted water supply.”  

PictureRiverside Pumping Station on Milwaukee River
Hoan’s appointment of a committee in 1917 to study the problems of filtration and a water treatment plant took two years.  During this time, completion of the Linnwood Avenue intake in 1919 started delivering cleaner water to the citizens of Milwaukee.  Mayor Hoan fought with those who did not see the need to build high priced structures to filter and treat the water, and those large customers who argued about having to pay higher prices for cleaner water such as the breweries and tanning industries.  Some opponents suggested waiting until the sewerage treatment plant was completed before deciding whether to build filtration plants, which was what the Common Council voted to do in 1922.  

'Sewer Socialists' were so called because they cared about 
the health of the citizens and providing good drinking water. 
PictureNorth Point Pumping Station, Lincoln Memorial Dr.
Finally in 1933, with the help of Milwaukee’s new city engineer, Joseph Schwada, and his campaign to educate the citizens about Milwaukee’s water and the need for filtration, that Mayor Hoan and the Socialists were able to declare victory. The Common Council under Socialist August Strehlow passed a resolution to build the filtration plant in June of 1933. Construction began on the Linnwood Avenue Water Purification Plant in 1934 and it went on-line in 1939.

PictureJones Island Sewage Treatment Plant
So it was not until June 26, 1925 when the Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant opened that further discussions and work began to bring more modern filtration and pumping stations. But it was not to be an immediate thing. Some members of the Common Council, major industries, and some civic groups continued to fight against filtration. They argued that the new Jones Island Sewage Treatment Plant had not been in existence long enough to study its effects on Milwaukee’s water quality. The fighting raged on over the years with some pointing out that, after all, Milwaukee had won the Healthiest City award in 1929 and 1931. Others pointed out that this was because of Milwaukee’s health department, not the quality of the water. 

By Steve Daily,
Director, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
Young Meta Berger of Milwaukee
Born on February 23, 1873 in Milwaukee, Meta Schlichting was educated at the Wisconsin State Normal School (now the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee). Meta taught primary school after graduating. She was forced to resign when she married Victor Berger in 1897 due to rules that required female teachers to be single.

Meta Berger, Educator and Politician   1873-1944
Milwaukee's Meta Berger with fancy hat
Meta was elected to the Milwaukee School Board in 1909, and as a school board member, she supported progressive measures such as the construction of playgrounds, "penny lunches," and medical exams for children. Ms. Berger also advocated on behalf of teachers for tenure, a pension system, and a fixed salary schedule. She was re-elected again and again, serving a total of 30 years on the board. Meta's work for the school board led to her appointments to the Wisconsin State Board of Education, the Wisconsin Board of Regents of Normal Schools and the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents.

Meta Berger and Wisconsin Governor Heil in 1941
After the death of her husband, Victor, in 1929, Meta was selected to fill his seat on the Socialist Party's National Executive Committee, a position given to few women. She resigned from the Socialist Party in 1940 and spent her remaining years on her farm in Thiensville where she died on June 16, 1944. Meta was a daughter of German immigrants who became a prominent and outspoken activist and politician at a time when women's roles and place were hotly contested.

"We never obtained Suffrage until we made a row about it." 
- Meta Berger
Hattie McDaniel on CBS radio
Actress Hattie McDaniel was born on June 10, 1895 in Wichita, Kansas to a family of entertainers. She was the 13th child of a banjo-playing Baptist minister and gospel singing mother. While attending high school in Denver, Colorado, her singing abilities brought her work in minstrel shows and eventually found her performing with a vaudeville troupe for five years.

Hattie McDaniel, Singer and Actress   1895-1952
Hattie McDaniel and James Cagney in 1943 film
In 1925, Hattie was invited to perform on Denver's radio station which gave her the distinction of being the first African American woman to sing on the radio in the U.S. Ms. McDaniel continued the vaudeville circuit and landed in Milwaukee when the slow down of the Great Depression occurred. She was working as a ladies' room attendant at Sam Pick's when she audition with the song, "St. Louis Blues." In 1929, McDaniel found a steady job as a vocalist at the club and never went back to the maid job. Two years later, Hattie moved to Los Angeles after hearing about work available there on the radio. While she was able to pick up some radio work, at times she had to supplement her income by working at odd jobs.

Hattie McDaniel accepting her Oscar Award
In 1931, she landed her first film role as an extra in a Hollywood musical. Hattie's first major on-screen break came in 1934 singing a duet with Will Rogers in Judge Priest. The following year Ms. McDaniel landed a role opposite Shirley Temple in The Little Colonel. This part brought her to the attention of major Hollywood directors and a stead stream of offers followed. The highlight of her entertainment career came in 1939 with Hattie playing the role of Mammy, the house servant in Gone with the Wind. This role won her the first Oscar ever given to an African American in 1940. Hattie McDaniel unfortunately lost a battle to breast cancer after starting a new career in television as a maid on The Beulah Show. She died on October 26, 1952.

"I sincerely hope I shall always be a credit to my race and to the motion picture industry." 
- Hattie McDaniel, During Her Oscar Acceptance Speech
PictureMilwaukee Mayor Hoan
Daniel Hoan served as mayor of Milwaukee from 1916 to 1940. The twenty-four years that Hoan served as mayor made him the longest serving socialist politician in United States History. He was elected Milwaukee city attorney in 1910, and for the six years before he became mayor, he worked to reduce governmental corruption, which had become a major issue. After being elected mayor, Hoan continued this work on a broader scale, cleaning up local government and making it more efficient. He also implemented countless progressive reforms, many of which proved successful. 

Included in these reforms were the Garden Homes Project, restructuring the city’s public transportation, and a push towards municipal ownership of quarries, water treatment and sewage disposal. He also began work on a highway system, but funding was cut and the project was put on hold. Eventually, funding was secured and the project was finished in 1977. The expanded system included the Hoan Bridge, Milwaukee’s only tribute to a man who changed our city in so many ways.

Daniel Hoan Was Milwaukee's Longest Serving Socialist Mayor From 1916 to 1940.
PictureFormer Mayor Emil Seidel and Mayor Daniel Hoan
Socialism is a word often confused with communism. The biggest difference between the two is that socialism is an economic system, while communism is a political one. This means that socialism can work in the context of a democracy, whereas communism cannot. Although socialism does have roots in communism, they are not the same. Communism is often viewed as a more extreme version of socialism. In a communist political system, socialism would likely be the dominant economic system. However, this does not mean that socialism and communism always go hand in hand. There are many programs in the United States that borrow from socialist principles, including Social Security and the highway system. During Hoan’s time as mayor, Milwaukee was the center of the Socialist movement in America. He, along with other politicians, practiced what became known as sewer socialism. This particular branch of socialism focused on cleaning up Milwaukee after the industrial revolution and a return to the basics of socialism to maximize the help given to citizens.

One of Mayor Hoan’s most famous programs was the Garden Homes project in 1923. The end of World War I brought with it a housing shortage, and politicians were scrambling for a solution. This was when Hoan developed the Garden Homes project, the country’s first public housing project. Hoan commissioned the Garden Homes Company to build six room houses. 

When the homes were finished, each family who wanted to live within the project bought stock in the company. Each month, a family made payments on their stock, as well as made a small payment for upkeep on the house. Over the course of the next twenty years, the value of the stock decreased until each family was only paying the rent for the upkeep of the property, not making payments on the stock. A six room home cost about $4,500. For the first month, a family would pay $49.33, and then $22.25 every month after that until his stock was paid off. The project was extremely successful, and by 1936 every family who had purchased stock had it paid off and were homeowners in their own right.

Municipal ownership is the idea that a city’s local government owns and controls services that are used by the public at large, such as the water supply, public transportation and access to natural resources. A system like this prevents large corporations from using these markets to make money. It also allows for consistency. Without municipal ownership, a city could have three water treatment plants, each selling different qualities of water at different prices. 

Mayor Hoan believed in municipal ownership of the city’s water, sanitation and quarries. The corruption in local politics at the time ran deep, and many government officials were making money by allowing large corporations to bend the rules. This led to spoiled water and various other problems. In Hoan’s effort to clean up the government and stop corruption, he began the push for municipal ownership, and eventually succeeded in his efforts. Milwaukee’s local government gained ownership of the stone quarries, street lighting, water purification and sewage disposal.

By Lena Tomaszek,
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2016 exhibit on Daniel Webster Hoan, Milwaukee's longest serving socialist mayor. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
Here’s some news from the Chudnow family! Avrum Chudnow, our founder, was Ruth’s brother, so he may very well have been one of the ones introducing her to her new penpals! We have many of her letters and postcards of correspondence in our archives.

Article originally published in the Milwaukee Journal, December 21, 1942. The reporter, Louis Chapman, usually wrote for the sports section but was a relative of the Chudnows.

By Kayla Sutherland,
Associate, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
At first glance this little book may appear to be a simple book of matches, but when you open it up you realize that it contains a styptic kit in case “the gentleman” should cut himself while shaving and a hosiery mending kit “for the lady”.

Also, it looks like a few of the “matchsticks” to prevent your stockings from running were used, since there’s only three left!

By Kayla Sutherland
Associate, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
PictureEngraved Stove-Box Detail of Favorite Model No. 514
This parlor stove's body is nickel-plated cast iron. The windows are Isinglass, a thin sheet of mica which can withstand up to 1650 degrees Fahrenheit, and the (not original) decorative top or finial is copper. Typical of the Victorian Era, the stove's design simulates castle or Gothic church architecture. Before the introduction of central heating, a stove such as this or a fueled cooking range, would have been the only heat source in the house. Cold mornings often found children running from their beds to the stove to dress in its warmth. 

Ornamental Design
Replacement Finial
Coffee Pot Warming Shelf
PictureTin Advertisement Sign of the Favorite Plant
This coal-burning model was manufactured in 1895 by the Favorite Stove Works of Piqua, Ohio and cost around $25. Opened in 1880, the Favorite Stove Works produced over 50,000 cooking ranges and parlor stoves each year. The slow down during the Great Depression, changing technology and the death of their owner, Stanhope Boal, led to the downfall of the business. The company closed up shop for good in 1958.

By Joel Willems,
Curator, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
PictureWarren Harding as a Child, Center
In the spring of 1882, Harding graduated from Ohio Central College at just 17 years old. After graduating, Harding returned to Marion and purchased the Marion Daily Star. He, with the help of Florence, turned the paper around and made it one of the most popular in the country. 

In 1899, Harding won a seat on the Ohio State Senate and his political career began. For the next several years, Harding remained active in both local and state politics. Harding was chosen to give the nomination speech for President Taft at the Republican National Convention in 1912. The exposure given to him at the convention allowed him to run for U.S. Senator. Harding won the race and served until his inauguration in 1921. 

During the summer of 1920, Harding began to campaign in earnest. The campaign was run in a very modern fashion, with print ads, sound clips, news reels, anti-Democrat literature and celebrities all being used in an attempt to win voters. On November 2nd, 1920, Harding won the election with 60% of the popular vote and 404 electoral votes.

"Return To Normalcy" - 1920 Campaign Slogan
Picture29th U.S. President Warren G. Harding
In June of 1921, President Harding signed the General Accounting Act, a piece of legislation that would shape federal finances for many decades to come. The bill called for the President to submit an annual federal budget to Congress, to help control and minimize government spending. Additionally, the passing of the General Accounting Act created the Bureau of the Budget, a government agency that reviewed spending requests from the various governmental departments. The Bureau was then supposed to advise the President during the drafting of the annual budget. Harding appointed Charles Dawes as the first director of the Bureau of the Budget, and within his first two years, he slashed government spending by half. Dawes would later go on to be Vice President under President Coolidge.

At the same time, Harding was making budget cuts in various other areas to make good on his campaign slogan, "Less government in business and more business in government." Over the course of his Presidency, tax rates were decreased across the board, and these slashes were felt by every income group. Even with the tax reductions, the Federal debt was reduced by one third in the 1920s, mostly due to policies started by Harding.

PictureThe Little Green House on K Street
As the newly elected President Harding was entering the White House, World War I was drawing to a close. After his inauguration, Harding set out to surround himself with the most capable minds in the country. Four our new President, this largely meant filling his cabinet positions with his friends and associates from Marion, Ohio. Many men relocated their families to the Washington D.C. area, and the new clan, who would come to be known as the "Ohio Gang", set up their headquarters in a house in the city that would eventually be known as "The Little Green House on K Street."

The Harding administration had many scandals brewing beneath the surface, though few of them came to light before the President passed away in August of 1923. Harding's biggest challenge by far was keeping the Ohio gang under control during his time in office. Unfortunately for him, many of the gang members were able to sweep their illicit activity under the rug. While he may have been dimly aware of the trouble his friends were causing, he was kept out of the loop for the most part, making it nearly impossible to put a stop to it. After Harding's death, many of his friends were sent to prison for the various crimes they committed while Harding was in office.

PicturePresident and First Lady
Florence Kling was born in Marion, Ohio on August 15th, 1860. As a girl, she hoped to become a pianist and took piano lessons for many years. When she was 19, she eloped with Henry DeWolfe and they had a son, Marshall Eugene DeWolfe. Six years later, the couple quietly filed for divorce. Free of her first husband, Florence began to pursue Warren Harding. While Florence and Warren were courting, he began to refer to her lovingly as "the duchess," because she was so poised and driven. In July of 1891, Florence and Warren were married. Over the course of the next few years, Florence worked at their newspaper, and with her help it grew even more popular.

While Harding was running for office, "the Duchess" was very involved in his campaign, moreso than any other First Lady up to that point. After he was elected, Florence worked to make the country a more welcoming place for war veterans to come home to.  The White House had been closed to the public during the Wilson Administration, and the First Lady opened it again, and restarted the annual Easter Egg Roll on the White House lawn.

Warren Harding, a Republican from Ohio, served as President from 1921 to 1923. Harding viewed the Presidency as a largely ceremonial role, and advocated for keeping the government out of businesses. He was an early proponent of civil rights.
PicturePresident Harding with Ohio Gang members
President Harding was quite scandalous in his own right. He was heavily opposed to Prohibition, a fact he made clear by continuing to serve whiskey and various other liquors in the White House. The First Lady was in on the fun as well, and could frequently be seen mixing drinks for guests while they gambled with her husband. It was not uncommon for the couple and their guests to stay up late into the night playing high stakes poker, smoking cigars and sipping whiskey.

Lena Tomaszek, 
Museum Intern, University of Minnesota Undergrad
This panel is part of our 2014 exhibit on U.S. Presidents Between the World Wars. For educational purposes, we have made the document available as a pdf. -->
While cataloging some artifacts in the collection, we came across this wonderful bottle of Glockengasse No. 4711.
Here are some interesting facts from the cologne's wikipedia page and their website:
  • This scent has been produced in Cologne, Germany since 1799, so it can call itself an Eau de Cologne quite literally as a geographical reference
  • Bottles were given to members of the German Navy who served aboard U-boats in an attempt to make the submarines smell better. It didn’t work, since they kept bringing the cologne home and giving it away as gifts.
  • Their bottle has remained virtually unchanged for 195 years.
  • President John F. Kennedy was supposed to have worn it.
  • It has a lovely refreshing citrus scent.
Here is some other interesting facts about the bottle that we have here at the Chudnow Museum:
  • It smells a lot like gin.
  • We’re pretty sure it’s full of gin.
  • But it’s very pretty.

By Kayla Sutherland,
Associate, Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear