J. L. Burnham Block

907--911 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, Wisconsin


Overview Looking Southwest

Photo taken by J.R. Manning in August 2012




Johnathon L. Burnham came to Milwaukee in 1818 and with his brother, George, opened a brickyard. The clay in the area, when fired, came out a yellowish-white color. The bricks became known as Cream City Brick and Milwaukee earned the nick-name, The Cream City.

The Burnham brothers brickyard was, in its heyday of the early 1880s, employed 200 men and made over 15 million bricks per year. It was the largest brickyard in the world.

Burnham had also purchased 80 acres of land in what is now the south side of Milwaukee, his estate and descendants reportedly still hold some of that land.

The subject building was one of several of Burnham's real estate holdings in the Walker's Point area. It was designed by Edward Townsend Mix, a prolific architect based in Milwaukee at the time. Mix was the State of Wisconsin between 1864-1867 before he opened his private practice in Milwaukee. Mix designed numerous homes for Milwaukee's most prominent citizens as well as many noted Milwaukee landmarks.

His (arguably) best-known work is the Northwestern Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers located in Wood, Wisconsin, completely surrounded by Milwaukee.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on February 11, 1988
Reference number
NR name
Burnham, J. L., Block
Architectural style
Victorian: Italianate
Areas of significance
Architecture; Social History
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic functions
Meeting hall; Multiple dwelling
Current functions
Business; Multiple dwelling
Periods of significance
1900-1924; 1875-1899
Significant year

Update Log 

  • August 22, 2012: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added description and added photographs.