Milwaukee Normal School--Milwaukee Girls' Trade and Technical High School

Also known as: Milwaukee Rescue Mission
1820 W. Wells St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Former school now serving the Milwaukee Rescue Mission


Overview Looking Northwest

An addition was built in 1898, you can see the change in brick and slight styling on the east side of the building.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in November 2013




According to the Milwaukee County Historical Society, this building started out as the Milwaukee Normal School on September 14, 1885. It was designed by Edward Townsend Mix, one of Milwaukee’s most prominent architects. An addition was added in 1898 but in the early 20th Century, the City of Milwaukee Building Inspector declared that the building was too small for the number of students enrolled. The Normal School relocated to Downer Avenue on Milwaukee's east side. After mergers and expansions, the Normal School become UWM, the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee. Mitchell Hall, which housed the Normal School, still serves UWM today.

Meanwhile, a 1907 law allowed local school systems to open trade schools. In 1909, with the Normal School gone, the building became the Milwaukee Girl's Trade and Technical School. Enrollment grew but by the mid 1950s, enrollment had declined to the point that the school closed. The building was used as a junior high school until 1978.

In 1982, with the pending construction of the Bradley Center in downtown Milwaukee, the Rescue Mission bought the building from the Milwaukee Public Schools and opened the Joy House. By 1986, the entire operation relocated here. The old Rescue Mission building was demolished to make way for the new arena. Today, the facility aids those in need.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on January 16, 1986
Reference number
Architectural styles
Late 19th and 20th Century Revival: Tudor Revival; Victorian: Queen Anne; Other architectural type; Tudor Gothic
Areas of significance
Education; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic functions
College; School
Current function
Institutional housing
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899; 1925-1949
Significant years
1885; 1894; 1918

Update Log 

  • November 14, 2013: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated Status, Added Description and Added Photos