The first permanent settler arrived in what would become Wauwatosa in 1835. This city has a rich and varied history reflected in the historic architecture that remains to this day. The best way to see them? Take a stroll through the Wauwatosa Village, and then walk through historic home districts on Wauwatosa Avenue, Church Street, and Washington Highlands to further enjoy the beauty of the past in Wauwatosa.
Little Red Store
Built in 1854, the Little Red Store was originally a railroad depot. Part of Wauwatosa’s earliest commercial histories, it has also served throughout the years as a post office, dwelling, general store, library, harness shop, grocery, plumbing shop, and oil company. Now under the stewardship of the Wauwatosa Historical Society, it serves as a community visitor center.
Village Retail and Restaurants
Throughout the city, and particularly in the historic Village district, iconic historical buildings still live on today as shops and homes. Built in 1897, Roberston Ace Hardware is now a hip clothing boutique, as is the original Wauwatosa fire department. One of the buildings of the Pabst brewery has become the site of Ristorante Bartolotta, a popular Italian eatery.
Wauwatosa Avenue Buildings
Founded in 1894, the Wauwatosa Woman’s Club meets in a landmark Georgian clubhouse which also houses a museum for articles of local and historic interest. If you’re a fan of Irish culture and heritage, make sure to stop at the Irish Fest Center. The center offers Irish-related activities year round, in addition to housing the John J. Ward Irish Music Archives.
Believed to be Wauwatosa’s oldest residence, the Lowell Damon House was started in 1844 and completed in 1847. A classic example of a colonial home, it has been operated as museum by the Milwaukee County Historical Society since 1941. Guided tours can be arranged for small groups and individuals on Sunday afternoons.
Now owned by the Wauwatosa Historical Society (WHS), the Kneeland-Walker House is an elegant Queen Anne-style Victorian home. Built in 1890 by Norman Kneeland, the house remained in the Kneeland family until 1917, when it was purchased by Emery Walker. The Walker family lived in the house until 1985, when it was then purchased by the WHS. The house’s name honors the two families who lived in it for nearly 100 years. Set in 1.5 acres of grounds and gardens, the house has been extensively refurbished by the WHS to evoke a Victorian style of decorating. Tours are available by reservation on the third Saturday of each month.
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church
Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church in Wauwatosa is one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s final works. He designed the church in 1956 and construction was completed after his death in 1962. Inspired by traditional Byzantine architecture, the design of the church reimagines the classic forms of the dome and the cross for a modern context. Architectural Digest recently named it the most beautiful place of worship in Wisconsin. Tours can be scheduled for groups of fifteen or more.