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Preserving our Past: December

Dec. 5, 2012

A. Cressy Morrison’s Cottage

615 E. Day Ave.

 

By Tom Fehring

A. Cressy Morrison built this house, without the second floor dormer, in 1897 as his summer cottage.

A. Cressy Morrison was born at Wrentham, Mass. on December 6, 1864. An early bio states that while a child his parents were “met with reverses” and he had to “give up all educational advantages and devote himself to the serious problem of life” at age 13. He drifted from retail dry goods to machinery and tools, from wholesale dry goods to work in a hotel, from a lawyer’s office to syrups and molasses, from coals and wood to hard rubber and from there to a proprietary pharmaceutical business with Maltine Manufacturing Company.

While in his twenties he moved to Milwaukee where he was hired by Pabst Brewing Co. and eventually was placed in charge of publicity. He was also an early proponent of cycling, actively participating in the League of American Wheelmen – holding local and national positions in the organization. He also worked actively to promote better roads in Wisconsin and nationally.

In 1897, Morrison became chairman of the committee on credits and collections of the National Wholesale Druggists Association and the committee on advertising of the Proprietary Association – which represented non-prescription drug companies.

While in Milwaukee he wrote several historical articles, including the History of Milwaukee and a 1895 History of the Brewing Industry.

He eventually left Milwaukee where he worked as an executive of the Union Carbide Corp. He was named President of the New York Academy of Sciences. Beginning in 1924 he offered prizes through the Academy – known as the A. Cressy Morrison Award, which continued to be bestowed annually until the mid-1990s. Several recipients of the Morrison Award went on to eventually win Nobel prizes.

Morrison published extensively. He was the author of "Man in a Chemical World," "Encyclopedia of Superstition" and other books. He also wrote “Seven Reasons Why a Scientist Believes in God”, an extract of which ran in Reader’s Digest.

He died in Brooklyn Jan. 9, 1951.

The top view of the residence, taken in February 2011, shows evidence of recent renovation activity. The view at right is believed taken in the 1980s.

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.

The Milwaukee and Whitefish Bay Railroad line was developed in 1892, the same year the many of these residences were built and also the year the community of Whitefish Bay was incorporated. The line pushed to its northern limits at Day Avenue in 1897, and was electrified in 1898. The railroad allowed residents of the East Day Avenue neighborhood to commute to jobs in the City for the first time.


 

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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