Preserving Our Past

A regular feature about the historically significant buildings in Whitefish Bay

March 8, 2007


The Harrison Hardie House


4540 North Cramer St., Whitefish Bay, WI 53211
National Park Service Reference Number: 85002026

4540 North Cramer St.

This Cotswold Cottage residence is one of the Ernest Flagg-designed Stone Masonry Houses of Milwaukee County (listed on the National Register of Historic Places on 9/12/85).

This two story Flagg System house faces west and is 40 x 47 feet. It has limestone exterior walls and a composition gable roof. There are three shed dormers and two chimneys with distinctive round openings. A one story section links the house and garage. This original garage has an unusual arched stone doorway. This section once contained the laundry room which has been converted to a den. There is a beam and girder ceiling throughout the downstairs except in the kitchen where is has been lowered. Casement windows open inward over tile sills. There is a walk-in attic and half basement. The bathroom floor is one step above the level of the hallway.

The house is architecturally significant because it is one of a group of stone masonry houses built designed by renowned architect Ernest Flagg and built in accordance with his unique methods of construction by local builder Arnold F. Meyer & Company, Inc. There are five Flagg System houses in this neighborhood, three of which have also been recognized as Milwaukee County Landmarks.

Ernest Flagg (1857-1947) obtained his architectural education at the Atelier Paul Blondel, Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. In 1897, he won the competition for the Singer Building in that city, and in 1907, completed the tower, all in Beaux Arts eclectic style. At the time, the Singer Tower with its forty-five stories and 612 feet of elevation was the tallest office building in the world. Among his many commissions include the United States Naval Academy buildings at Annapolis, the Corcoran Art Gallery in Washington, D.C. and St. Luke's Hospital in New York City.

He devoted the end of his career to designing affordable, yet aesthetic housing. In 1922, at the age of 65, he wrote a definitive work on the subject entitled: "Small Houses: Their Economic Design and Construction (Essays on the Fundamental Principles of Design and Descriptive Articles on Construction)." The essays describe a system for building houses that employ 'mosaic rubble' outside walls constructed using a slip-form technique, solid plaster interior walls, and extensive use of ridge-dormers or ridge skylights, to use the space under sloping roof rafters.


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.



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