Preserving our Past: November

Oct. 1, 2012

Clarence and Cora Powers' House

531 E. Day Ave.


By Tom Fehring

Originally owned by Clarence and Cora Powers, the residence was later sold to Carl Steffen, who died here in 1897. His widow lived in the residence until her death in 1903. The property was then left to their seven children and son Albert F. Steffen and his family lived there.

In the 1970s, vertical siding was put on by the architect-owner, Thomas M. Slaters, but it has been subsequently been replaced with siding more in concert with the original style of the house.

Carl Steffen was a farmer, originally from Pomerania (currently divided between Germany and Poland). Carl and his wife are buried in the Town of Milwaukee Cemetery, as are a number of their descendents and relatives.

This section of East Day Avenue was the first residential area developed within Whitefish Bay.

Many of the homes located in this neighborhood were described in an advertising brochure, entitled, “A Home on the Bay” which was distributed in 1892 and 1893 to interested parties, including visitors to the Pabst Whitefish Bay Inn.

From the surviving photographs, most of the homes in this residential neighborhood do not appear to be designed in a ‘pure’ style. The builders appear to have combined elements of several styles in the various buildings. Queen Anne Style influences appear somewhat evident on these homes, but they may be designed closest to the Stick Style, which has been described as “one of the two most purely American styles of the nineteenth century.” Stick Style homes are “expressive of the wooden framing system which underlies the wall, and were influenced by the residential designs published by Andrew Jackson Downing in the 1950s. Downing emphasized ‘truthfulness’ in wooden construction. Vertical or horizontal boarding on the outside walls were expressive of the underlying study wall underneath. Stick Style details such as paneling and simple gable end trusses are observable on several of these houses.”

Although several of the homes in this neighborhood have been modified over the years, most of the homes continue to exhibit their distinctive architectural style. As such the neighborhood stands out as a unique historical area within the Village of Whitefish Bay.


Note: Please respect the rights of private property owners when viewing this or any of properties listed in this column.



About "Preserving Our Past"

The Village of Whitefish Bay is a community of residential neighborhoods, punctuated with an attractive walking district of fine stores, excellent schools and vibrant houses of worship. It is filled with homes and other buildings that are architecturally rich, well-designed and maintained, and diverse in character.

Its residents have contributed much to the broad cultural, political, economic and social history of the area. And its residents are interested in maintaining their connections with an historic past.

To help maintain these connections, the Historic Preservation Commission is in the process of identifying buildings and historic sites that it believes may be architecturally significant or historic. On a weekly basis we will feature a building or site from our inventory.



Local Crime Map



Latest Photo Galleries