The Victor Schlitz mansion was completed in 1890 following two years of construction on two of the five city lots Victor purchased with money he inherited from his uncle, Joseph Schlitz, founder of the Schlitz brewery. Designed by Charles A. Gombert, best known as the architect of the North Point Water Tower on Milwaukee’s east side. The home is constructed of cream city brick and rock-faced limestone and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places where it is identified as Queen Anne style. It is more accurately a part of the Picturesque movement with Exotic Eclectic influences including touches of Moorish detail on the exterior. The home considerably less “fussy” than many Queen Anne’s, having a more “muscular” appearance in both the exterior and interior finishing. This would be consistent with the German esthetic of the Schlitz family who employed German craftsmen in the construction and finishing of the house. The most outstanding feature on the exterior — facing 20th street –is the terra cotta head of a young man.
The Schlitz family included Victor and his wife Augusta and six children who Victor raised with household help after Augusta’s death in 1896. He died in 1928; both Victor and Augusta’s funerals were held in the front parlor where a framed memorial card for Augusta now hangs. In 1929, the children sold the house to the St. Vincent De Paul Society. The coach house was sold in the 1930s and converted to a duplex. Twice in its history, the house came close to being demolished. From 1930 to 1975, a series of Catholic organizations operated an orphanage with 20 girls and 4 nuns in residence. The house was sold in 1975 to Highland Community School which operated a Montessori school in the house until about 1998 when it was once again reclaimed as a single-family home.
2 Added Stories
I taught in the Schlitz mansion from 1992-1997, when it was Highland Community School. My classroom was on the second floor in what are now the master and guest bedrooms There was a loft in the classroom where the guest bedroom is now located. The children would go up into the loft as a quiet space to read.. Also on the second floor was a small library.
There was a playground where the patio is now located. There were two classrooms on the first floor. The dining area for the children was in the basement. There was also the school office on the second floor and the administrator’s office on the third floor.
I have many happy memories while teaching in the Schlitz mansion.
I grew up in the Concordia neighborhood on 29th Street. I was a Montessori child at Highland in the Schlitz mansion from roughly 1980 to 1985. I remember preparing snack in the second floor classroom, reading in the second floor loft, playing on the playground and eating lunch in the old basement. My teachers and most of my classmates all lived in the same neighborhood and there was always a party or open house on 29th street or McKinley or Juneau. It was definitely the commitment of the people in that building and to that neighborhood that made things so wonderful, but I think there is a little magic in that old building too! It was my memories of the Schlitz mansion that most inspired me to become a Montessori teacher today!