Milwaukee City Hall

200 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Flemish Renaissance building with distinctive bell tower known by viewers of Laverne & Shirley


Front Elevation

This unique structure might look familiar to viewers of the old television series Laverne & Shirley, where it appeared in the opening credits. In those days, a changeable sign was attached to this side of the building.

The building has been undergoing massive renovations since 2006.

This photo is Old No. 10k

Note the distinctive street lights, Milwaukee's own ubiquitous Harp Luminaiŕe.

Photo taken by J.R. Manning



A Peek Into Milwaukee's Early History 

Written by J.R. Manning

Milwaukee was founded by three pioneers, who were also bitter rivals, that developed their own communities that competed with one another. Rivers made natural boundaries in those heady days, so Byron Kilbourn built Kilbourntown on the west side of the Milwaukee River and north of the Menomonee. Solomon Juneau built Juneautown east of the Milwaukee River and north of the Menomonee. The community of Walker's Point was south of the Menomonee River, it was the original location of George Walker's fur trading post.

The rivalry between Juneau and Kilbourn was so intense that they made a point of making sure their street grids did not line up, perhaps trying to discourage the inevitable linking of the two communities by bridge. Today's downtown bridges all cross the river slightly askew to line up with Juneau's and Kilbourn's legacy of mis-aligned streets.

Eventually, Kilbourn, Juneau and Walker agreed that they were not encouraging settlement and reached an agreement. In 1846, the three communities merged and incorporated as the City of Milwaukee, 2 years prior to Wisconsin Statehood.

Solomon Juneau served as the first mayor before retiring to his "summer home" in Theresa, Wisconsin.

City Hall is east of the river, in old Juneautown.

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on March 14, 1973
Reference number
Architectural styles
Victorian; Other architectural type; Renaissance Revival
Area of significance
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
City hall
Current function
City hall
Period of significance
Significant years
1893; 1898


19th Century (37,053)
Brick (42,460)
Built 1893 (588)
Built during 1890s (7,421)
City hall (808)
Copper (1,057)
Cyril Colnik (14)
Granite (5,090)
Henry C. Koch (17)
Henry C. Koch, & Co. (1)
Milwaukee County, Wisconsin (312)
Milwaukee, Wisconsin (163)
Owned by local government (11,501)
Sandstone (4,861)
Stone (26,162)
Terra cotta (3,922)
Victorian (19,697)
Wisconsin (2,553)

Update Log 

  • September 25, 2014: Updated by J.R. Manning: Added photos
  • September 25, 2014: New photos from J.R. Manning
  • June 26, 2011: Essay added by J.R. Manning
  • June 25, 2011: New photo from J.R. Manning