Northern half of Milwaukee's North Point Historic District
Charles Rollins Manville House
Charles Rollins Manville, son of Charles Brayton Manville, stayed in Milwaukee to manage the operations here while the rest of the family moved to New York.
Photo taken by J.R. Manning in May 2014
In the mid 19th Century, both the city and the county governments recognized the value of Milwaukee's lakefront. Land was set aside for those in need, including orphans, elderly and the infirm. Today, St. Mary's-Columbia is an enormous hospital in the heart of the neighborhood.
The first subdivision was platted just south of North Avenue in 1854. An additional subdivision was platted north of North Avenue in 1855. Only two of the houses built in the 1850s remain. Little development of the area occurred because the neighborhood was just two far removed from the business district.
The city built a steam powered pumping station below the bluff in 1873. A standpipe, to absorb pulsations of the steam pump, was built on the top of the bluff at the foot of North Avenue. The limestone Gothic water tower was built to keep the standpipe from freezing and although it is no longer used, the tower is a recognizable landmark of Milwaukee.
City fathers recognized the value of public access and set aside land for parks, including the Frederick Law Olmsted designed Lake Park that was built in the 1890s. The U.S. Coast Guard moved a navigational lighthouse from the foot of Wisconsin Avenue in 1855, to the top of the bluff in today's Lake Park. The North Point Lighthouse served Lake Michigan navigation until it was decommissioned in 1994. (The 1855 lighthouse was moved 100 feet west in 1888.)
Once the 138-acre Lake Park opened, thousands flocked to the playground and soon, the pace of North Point's development accelerated. The grand homes of diverse architectural interest led to the designation of the area as a historical district.