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Preserving our Past: December

Dec. 2, 2011

Robert L Reisinger Construction Building

225-229 E. Fairmount Avenue

 

By Tom Fehring

 

This commercial building complex was built in 1928 for and by the Robert L. Reisinger Construction Company. This is believed to be the only building constructed for manufacturing in Whitefish Bay. It is faced with Cream City brick, although it has subsequently been painted white.

The complex consists of:

  • A two story building on the east, which originally provided office space on the first floor and a drafting room on the second
  • An adjoining 1-1/2 floor central structure that provided space for the firm’s machine and repair shop
  • A one story section on the west end which was originally a garage.

The building was extensively remodeled and reconfigured in 1983-84 (John F. Bruecker, Inc. served as architect, to convert the machine shop and garage into office space). A mansard façade was added to the roof of the one story structure at that time, along with a complimentary overhang over an adjacent side entrance.

The company’s building and grounds covered nearly five acres of former farmland. A map of the area diagramming a proposed rail yard for the Chicago & Northwestern Railway (never built) shows the area as part of the “property available for Industries and Commercial Houses.”

At the time the building was constructed, the surrounding area was farmland with a few scattered farmhouses and a ‘fringe’ of new homes to the east.

Reisinger arranged for a spur line from the C&NW Railway, which ended at the south side of the building and brought sand and gravel to an elevated hopper. A large lumber yard was located on the southern portion of the property. Robert Reisinger Jr. reported in an article by Mimi Bird that was published in the Whitefish Bay Herald that his father’s company “had been the largest contractor in Wisconsin at one time.” They also had a second office and yard in Milwaukee.

Among the buildings constructed by the Robert L. Reisinger Construction Company were the Commerce Building, the Knickerbocker, Belmont and Royal Hotels, the LaSalle Hotel (which is now Marquette University’s Cobean Hall), the Tower Hotel (which is now Marquette’s Carpenter Hall), the Oakland and Murray Theaters and part of Waukesha Hospital (which is now Waukesha Memorial).

 

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