Otto L. and Lillian Kuehn House
4890 North Lake Drive
By Tom Fehring
This brick Colonial Revival residence was constructed prior to 1922. The original date of construction is not available in the Village files. In 1927 it was occupied by Otto L. Kuehn, his wife Lillian and a son, Walter. The Kuehn’s may or may not have been the original owners. The residence sits on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. It is partially obscured from the front by a garage located adjacent to the street (North Lake Drive).
The residence was identified by the Wisconsin State Historical Society in a 1980 survey.
The 1926 Wright’s Milwaukee City Directory lists Otto Kuehn as president/treasurer of the Otto L. Kuehn Co., a nationally known food brokerage firm. It appears that the firm specialized in canned goods – especially sardines.
A biographer wrote that he was a “naturalist by inclination and a broker by circumstances.” Kuehn came to Milwaukee from Germany in May 1881 and was employed as a bookkeeper by the F. F. Riedel Manufacturing Company before engaging in the brokerage business. His wife was a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. F. F. Riedel.
As a boy in Germany, Kuehn won a medal form the German government for development of fancy pigeons. During his early years in the United States his achievements in raising and training carrier pigeons attracted a reward from the US Navy.
He once said that his greatest aim in life was to hunt animals in Africa – with a camera, not with a rifle.
He was one of the founders and served as the first president of the Washington Park Zoological Society, upon its formation in 1910. During his years in office, Kuehn made several trips to Europe. On these trips he bought many animals for the zoo, some of which, including a pair of llamas, he paid for with his own money. In 1913 he bought back ‘Yacob’ the hippopotamus – a feature exhibit at the Washington Park Zoo. Kuehn served as a member of the Milwaukee City Debt commission and was a life member of the Izaak Walton league. He was also a member of the Association of Commerce, the Rotary Club and the Milwaukee Athletic Club.
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.
- Archive: Read about the village's other historic buildings
- From the commission: About our inventory and a request for help
- More information: Historic designation application and procedures online
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- 'Chronicles of Whitefish Bay' takes readers back to village's beginnings
- Election update
- News & Notes: Dec. 11
- Withdrawal still an option as Glendale awaits formula votes
- Police Report: Dec. 9
- Election update: Dec. 3
- Preserving our Past: December
- Police Report: Dec. 2
- NSFD board passes funding formula
- News & Notes: Nov. 27