Jeremiah Curtin House

8685 W. Grange Ave., Greendale, Wisconsin

Two story home constructed of limestone, covered with plaster, on its original foundation.


Overview Looking South

The home was constructed of limestone quarried nearby, then covered with plaster. It was occupied from its construction until 1920.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning




The Curtin House is open Sundays from 1 to 4 PM during the summer from May 15th to October 15th, or it is opened by appointment. There is a small admission charge per person. The house is part of the property known as Trimborn Farm.

There are conflicting reports about when this cottage was built, by whom, and when the Curtin family lived here. (See the essay section for the text of an undated HABS report that was likely written sometime in the 1930s.)

The cottage was built in 1835 with limestone that was quarried nearby, likely the same quarry that supplied limestone to the Trimborn Lime Kiln. David Curtin moved here with his family in 1837. The HABS report indicates that Jeremiah was born here, other reports are that Jeremiah moved here with his family. Either way, after the Curtins moved out, the house was sold to the Trimborn family in 1866. The home was occupied until 1920.

Sometime around 1935, the Trimborn Farm property, including the little Irish cottage, passed into the hands of the federal government. It became part of a planned community called The Greendale Project. The Greendale Project was one of three "Greenbelt" planned communities created under the United States Resettlement Administration, a New Deal program. The other Greenbelt towns are Greenbelt, Prince George's County, Maryland and Greenhills, Hamilton County, Ohio, near Cincinnati. The result of the project is today's historic village of Greendale.

The Milwaukee Country Historical Society acquired the property in 1952, as a part of Trimborn Farm, from the Federal Housing Department.

The restoration began in 1976 as part of the county's Bicentennial Project and continued into the late '70s. It was dedicated on the 150th Anniversary of Jeremiah Curtin's birth.

Jeremiah Curtin House (Residence) 

Written by Alexander Carl Guth, District Officer, HABS (Undated)

Jeremiah Curtin House (Residence)
Village of Hales Corners, Milwaukee County, Wisconsin
Located on property of Federal Housing Dep't.

U.S. Government - Owner

Erected - 1835

Architect & Builder - Unknown

The building is in a fair state of preservation and sets on its original foundation. It is two stories in height.

The entire building is constructed of lime stone which was quarried near by. The same, after being placed in the walls, was completely plastered over. The roof is of wood.

This is one of the most historic structures in the entire state because it was the birth place in 1837 of Jeremiah Curtin. He was destined to become one of the world's greatest linguists and scholars. He mastered 72 languages and in 1864 was appointed by President Lincoln as Secretary to the American Legation at the Court of St. Petersburg, Russia. Here he acquitted himself with much credit because he was able to converse in the native tongue. Returning to the United States, he lived the life of the American Indian, for many years, studying their habits and customs. His chief claim to fame rests upon the fact that he translated from the Polish, that immortal drama, Quo Vadis.

The house has been used for many years as a garage and hennery and word has now been received that it will be restored to its original condition by the present owners. It is an interesting mass of picturesque gables and lean-tos.

The above information was gathered from records in the hands of the descendants of the original family.

Alexander Carl Guth, District Officer

[Editor's Note: The date of this report is unknown. An inventory card created by Mr. Guth is dated January 3, 1937.]

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on November 7, 1972
Reference number
NR name
Curtin, Jeremiah, House
Areas of significance
Literature; Ethnic Heritage - European; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction; B - Person
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Period of significance
Significant years
ca. 1846; 1847

Update Log 

  • June 28, 2011: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • June 28, 2011: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added to Category: Milwaukee County Historical Society