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Tosa considers two new local historic designations

Rockway/Brookside neighborhood, Muellner Building under review

March 20, 2012

The city's Historic Preservation Commission has its sights on the Muellner Building and the Rockway/Brookside neighborhood for local historic designation.

The Muellner Building was built as a federal Works Progress Administration project in the 1930s with the intent of providing a community center for Wauwatosa. Significant financial contributions came from the Wauwatosa Curling Club and the American Legion.

Today, the Hart Park Senior Center and the curling club operate from the building. The city also rents out space there for parties, meetings and community events.

"It's a great piece of history," said Brian Faltinson, commission chairman.

The proposed designation as a historic place - expected to be before the Common Council for approval in May - means that the commission would review any design changes proposed for the building in the future.

Every time a building permit is pulled, it has to go before one of the city's design review boards. A historic designation would ensure the commission is the board for that structure, Faltinson said.

As for the Rockway/Brookside neighborhood, the commission floated the idea of making the two streets lined with residential properties into a historic district last summer. Most of the architecture there is Tudor Revival, popular during the 1920s and '30s.

It was turned over to the homeowners to decide if they wanted to pursue the designation.

"We will only move forward if residents show interest," Faltinson said.

The commission received a letter of interest and recently voted to move forward with the designation process, which will include a public hearing and seeking council approval.

"It's a compact and close-knit neighborhood and the residents wanted to recognize that," he said.

The commission will hold a public hearing April 4 regarding designation of the Muellner Building and the Rockway/Brookside neighborhood as historic places, city planner Tammy Szudy said.

In other news, a stretch of homes that received local historic district designation two years ago is being considered for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.

The application for Wauwatosa Avenue Historic District, which is made of 35 properties on Wauwatosa, Kenwood and Stickney avenues, passed the state review in August and arrived last week at the National Park Service, which handles federal historic designations.

There is no specific timeline for review, but Faltinson said he's confident the local neighborhood will achieve national recognition.

Following inclusion on the National Register, the commission would look at updating signs along the street to draw attention to the district, which is still a heavily traveled portion of the city, he said.

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