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McKinley School, Milwaukee, WI



McKinley School

2001 W. Vliet St.

Milwaukee, WI

The original block of the old McKinley School on 20th and Vliet in Milwaukee, WI, was erected in 1885 and designed by architect Frederick Seyring with an addition of a second pyramidal-roof building just a couple years later, possibly drawn by E.V. Koch and Co. By 1894, Sanborn maps indicate the two east wings which are connected by a passage. In 1898, Mollerus and Lotter designed the westernmost block fronting 21st Street. While Seyring’s building had gabled roofs, low dormers on the south elevation and peaked dormers with arched windows above the side entrances, Mollerus and Lotter created a more classical addition, with columns flanking the west entrance, dentils along the cornice and a nearly flat roof.  McKinley School started out as the Second District then became the 15th after it was completed.  Originally known as the District 15 School, it was renamed the Cold Spring Avenue School in 1912. The school was renamed McKinley School in 1927 when Cold Spring Avenue was renamed to honor President William McKinley. A circa-1950s or 1960s, Contemporary-style addition designed by Lefevre-Wiggins juts northward from the eastern block.

By the 1970s, McKinley was on the list of schools to be closed, and Milwaukee Public Schools closed the building in the late ’70s, selling it in 1985 to V.E. Carter Development, a now-defunct charter school operator. For many years, it operated as the V.E. Carter Human Resource Center until 2009 and Young Minds Preparatory Academy day care center until a fire shut it down in 2013.  In 2014, the Department of Neighborhood Services in the Municipal Building issued a condemnation order, based on a July 31, 2013, inspection. Residents petitioned the city’s Historic Preservation Commission for historic designation.  The city foreclosed on the building in 2016 after V.E. Carter failed to pay property taxes totaling $96,000. In 2017, Gorman and Co., which has redeveloped other local school buildings, sought a zoning change for the former William McKinley School, 2001 W. Vliet St., to be converted into 40 apartments. That project would cost around $9.2 million, according to the Department of City Development.  The apartments would probably be targeted to families with children.  Gorman also could seek state and federal historic preservation tax credits for the development. Those credits help cover part of a project’s exterior costs if it preserves a historic building according to National Park Service standards. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has begun a cleanup of asbestos and other hazardous materials at the building.

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