Cream City Brick

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Cream City Brick is a distinctive building material that has a unique cream yellow cast to it. Cream City Brick is found in thousands of structures in the Midwest, especially in Southeastern Wisconsin, the Milwaukee area and in many Chicago structures.

Cream City Brick is a product of the predominant soil in southeastern Wisconsin, red lacustrine clay. When it was used in the manufacture of bricks, the clay turned a yellowish-cream color when fired. So many structures in the Milwaukee area were built using the bricks that visitors began to call Milwaukee "The Cream City." As a result, the bricks became known as "Cream City Brick."

Johnathon L. Burnham came to Milwaukee in 1818 and with his brother, George, opened a brickyard. The Burnham brothers brickyard was, in its heyday of the early 1880s, the largest brickyard in the world. The Burnhams employed 200 men and made over 15 million bricks per year.

Burnham's Cream City Bricks (and bricks from competing yards) were distributed widely and are commonly found in hundreds of buildings in eastern and southern Wisconsin. Many lighthouses around the Great Lakes were constructed with Cream City Bricks.

As you look at the structures, lighthouses and bridges in Southeastern Wisconsin and the Midwest, you will see many of them are clad with Cream City Brick and many with Lannon Stone. You might also notice many neighboring buildings and homes that use these distinctive materials.


August Fuermann Jr., and Eliza, House (Jefferson County, Wisconsin)
Barney House (Waukesha County, Wisconsin)
Two-story Italianate block with a Cream City Brick veneer
David W. Howie House (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Queen Anne style frame home, clad with Cream City Brick, now a Bed & Breakfast
Friedmann Row (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Queen Anne-Romanesque Revival style multi-family dwelling from the Victorian era
Gallun Tannery Historic District (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
A campus of former industrial buildings, now being developed into residential use
Harry B. Walker House (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
High style Victorian Gothic residence with several steeply pitched gabled roofs
Henry and Mary Schuttler House (Waukesha County, Wisconsin)
Former residence, land has been sold off for development and house is now a popular Bed & Breakfast
J. L. Burnham Block (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Lachmund Family House (Sauk County, Wisconsin)
Large, cream city brick residence in the commercial district of Sauk City
Leander F. Frisby House (Washington County, Wisconsin)
Milwaukee County Home for Dependent Children-Administration Building (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Cream City Brick Administration Building
Milwaukee River Flushing Station (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Single story, Victorian utility building
New Coeln House (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Two-story Cream City Brick building that was originally a stagecoach stop between Milwaukee and Racine.
Old St. Mary's Church (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)
Oldest extant church in Milwaukee
Port Washington Lighthouse and Light Station Museum (Ozaukee County, Wisconsin)
Cream City Brick lighthouse, restored and open to the public as a museum.
Tallman House (Rock County, Wisconsin)
Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (Milwaukee County, Wisconsin)