About the Benjamin Church House [ Top ]
Photo courtesy of the Milwaukee
County Historical Society.
Church gained his place in history thanks to the distinctive Greek Revival home that he
built on Fourth Street between Cherry and Galena Streets on the west side of the Milwaukee
River in Kilbourtown. This section of early Milwaukee was founded by Bryon Kilbourn, a
developer born in Connecticut.
Here are resources about the
house, now a museum. See more on the page about Benjamin
Church that also details his ancestors and his family.
Greek Revival Style in
architecture connected the democracy of early Greece with the democracy of the new
American nation. It spread west through New York to Midwest America and beyond.
Church House in Historic American Building Survey: with four architectural
drawings from 1933 survey -- including interior floor plan and exterior details -- plus a photo
prior to its rescue. Shows the bedroom wings on each side of the house also visible in this photo.
As the second
oldest structure still standing in Milwaukee in 1938, the Benjamin Church
House drew the attention of the Milwaukee County Historical Society and the City Council
for restoration as a landmark.
rescue of the Benjamin Church homestead, its full restoration, the key role
of the insulating bricks stamped J.A.M. 1844, the move to Estabrook Park and the pageant
are detailed on pages 80-83 of Frederic Heath's article in the December 1947 issue of
the Wisconsin Magazine of History. Photo [plate] shows its Greek temple style.
When? the Kilbourntown House was the Benjamin Church House, located on
Fourth, on a hill above a tamarack swamp in early day Milwaukee? Large photo of the house
in 1937, before its rescue.
When? Benjamin Church House: a large photo from the Milwaukee
Journal when the house was relocated in 1938, with brief details on the history of
the house after it left Church family ownership.
The restored house was dedicated
September 14, 1939, with Frederic Heath as emcee. A fantasy pageant by Myrtyl Ross was
The Kilbourntown House was featured at the Wisconsin Historical
Society 1943 convention
in Milwaukee. The history
tour for members included a visit to the restored Benjamin Church House, with
a reception hosted by the Colonial Dames in period garb. A photo shows
Frederic Heath with two members of the Colonial Dames near the fireplace during the tour.
the National Register of Historic Places: recognized for its Greek
Revival architecture, the Benjamin Church House of Milwaukee was added to the national
register in 1972. See all of Milwaukee County's Registered
House: one of three pioneer houses operated today by the Milwaukee County
Historical Society, with details on visiting times. The alternative name for the house
comes from the name of Byron Kilbourn's early town on the west side of the Milwaukee
Church House Docent: Aaron Stockham, a Marquette University history
graduate student, describes leading tours at the Church House and the pleasure adults and
children alike experience there.
A July 2007 visit to the Benjamin
Church House, with a brief depiction of the Milwaukee pioneer era when the
Greek Revival house was built.
Church House on Wikipedia with details on its owners, the Church and Binzel
families. Written by Barbara Bradley Petura. Article is also at Answers.com
with photo showing front and bedroom wing.
or Kilbourntown House: due to its distinctive Greek Temple style and its
hand-hewn timbers and local bricks dated to 1844, the house was rescued in 1938. The
National Society of the Colonial Dames of America helped furnish the house with period
Church House, dusted with snow, was on the cover of a 1954-1955 issue of Wisconsin
Magazine of History. The Kilbourntown House name was applied on September 14,
1939, a cover
Called by some the Little
White Museum House, the Kilbourntown or Church House rescue and reopening
took the combined efforts of the Milwaukee County Historical Society, the Milwaukee Parks
Commission and the Colonial Dames of Wisconsin. Driving directions given. The portico has
Doric columns. Compare Doric,
Ionic and Corinthian orders.
Church Residence 1844: current photo of the house in Estabrook Park, with
note on use of cream city bricks in its construction, with a larger photo as well. The
house is included on lists of important structures in Milwaukee architecture
Park experienced significant development in the 1930s, the same decade that
saw the arrival of the Benjamin Church House there.
markers in Estabrook Park include the Benjamin Church House as it is known on
the National Register] and Kilbourntown House, the same historic structure, as it is known
on Milwaukee Landmarks list.
of original location of the Benjamin Church House on Fourth Street at Court Street,
between Cherry and Galena streets, and map
of south entrance to Estabrook Park off Capitol Drive. Go north a short way on Estabrook
Parkway to the historic
house and parking. Check
Thanks to neighbors who spotted the roof problems and led fund
raising, the house got a new
roof in 2012 [see photo]. Which entity is responsible for house
maintenance is unclear, but the Milwaukee County Historical Society helped
raise the funds. Donate
Benjamin Church (1807-1887) [ Top ]
|Benjamin Church, from New
Paltz, New York, lived in the West Ward or Second Ward on the west side of the Milwaukee
Census and 1850 Census records
show. See his family
of five in 1850 on a transcribed census page.
builder, living on Fourth Street in Ward 2, listed in the Milwaukee City
Benjamin Church, a builder, on Fourth between Cherry and Galena, 1858
of New Paltz,
New York, and Its
Old Families from
1678 to 1820
Benjamin was a member of Milwaukee Chapter 1
of the Masons, along with Byron Kilbourn, the founder of Kilbourntown west of the
Milwaukee River. Church was aligned politically with Kilbourn.
By the 1880
US Census, Benjamin was retired and living with his son John Church and
John's wife Maggie who was born in England.
In an 1881 listing, Benjamin was an Old Settlers Club
member, having arrived in Milwaukee before January 1, 1843. His dates: Born July 23, 1807, Ulster County. NY. Came to Milwaukee November 15, 1835.
Name Index: click to search the index for a listing of the biographical
sketch of Benjamin Church prepared by the Federal Writers Project (Wis.) between
Benjamin F. Church died
November 29, 1887, and was interred on December 1, 1887, in the family plot in Section 16 of
Milwaukee's historic Forest
Founding of Milwaukee [ Top ]
French-Canadian fur trader who founded Juneautown on the east side of the Milwaukee River,
an area merged into Milwaukee in 1846
Kilbourn: Connecticut native and developer who founded Kilbourntown on the
west side of the Milwaukee River, merged into Milwaukee in 1846
George H. Walker: In 1835 founded Walker's Point
on the south side of town, merged into Milwaukee in 1846
Founders: a brief look at the early days of the city plus the return Byron
Kilbourn's remains to Milwaukee