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Historic Third Ward

The Historic Third Ward is a historic downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin, warehouse district. This Milwaukee neighborhood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Today, the Third Ward is home to over 450 businesses. It maintains a strong position within the retail and professional service community in Milwaukee as a showcase of a mixed-use district. Many specialty shops, restaurants, art galleries and theatre groups, creative businesses, and condos anchor the neighborhood’s renaissance. It is home to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) and the Broadway Theatre Center. The Ward is adjacent to the Henry Maier Festival Park, home to Summerfest. The Milwaukee River bounds the neighborhood to the west and south, E. Clybourn Street to the north, and Lake Michigan to the east.


The Third Ward is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee, WI. During the early years of Milwaukee, the Third Ward was a relatively flat, swampy area between Lake Michigan’s shore and the Milwaukee River. In the 1850s, the land was drained, and wood-frame houses soon populated Ward’s east side, while on the west side, along the east side of the Milwaukee River, masonry factories and warehouses were constructed. Irish immigrants were the early settlers of the area. The Ward became known as the “Bloody Third,” a reputation the site earned for its frequent fistfights and working-class immigrant population.

Historic District 

In 1984 a cluster of the Third’s historic warehouses and industrial buildings built from 1892 to 1928 was designated an NRHP historic district. The Milwaukee River, I-94, and some modern warehouses and parking lots to the eastbound it. Here are some contributing structures:

  • The Wirth, Hammel & Co. Sales stable at 167 N. Broadway is a 2-story cream brick horse stable designed by Henry C. Koch and built-in 1892 on the site of the same company’s previous stable, which had burned in the fire. The stable sold draft, saddle, and carriage horses and sold horses to logging operations in the fall – claiming to be the largest sales stables in the U.S. The basement and first floor could handle 150 horses simultaneously, and the second floor provided sleeping quarters for men and storage. By the 1920s, the business was called M.D. Newald’s Sons & Co. was transitioning to auto sales and service. Bed Bug Exterminator Milwaukee
  • The Milwaukee Fire Department Engine Company, #10 at 176 N. Broadway, is a 3-story red brick structure with a cast iron cornice, designed by Sebastian Brand in Queen Anne style and built-in 1893 to replace the earlier fire station that was destroyed by the fire of 1892.
  • The National Distilling Co. at 221 E. Buffalo Ave. is a 4-story office building designed by Crane & Barkhausen in Romanesque Revival style and built-in 1893. This building was probably offices, showrooms, and storage for the firm, which had a distillery in the Menomonee Valley. During Prohibition, the name changed to Red Star Yeast, and the company produced industrial alcohol, vinegar, and yeast. M.A. Lichter Co. bought the building in 1963 for offices, assembling, and showing drapes.

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