A landmark on Milwaukee’s North Side, the former Zion Lutheran Church reflects the architectural tastes of its original German American congregation. The church is now home to Bethel Baptist Church, an African American congregation. Overall, the spiky and angular appearance of this imposing building reflects then-dominant trends in German church design. Nineteenth-century German church architects drew eclectically from centuries of Teutonic architectural motifs, as did Zion’s designers. The strong central, square tower with a tall spire, flanked by two smaller towers, reflects a medieval German tradition. The lancet windows are characteristic of Gothic Revival. When this church was built, the style had lost its popularity for domestic design, but in more robust and archaeological forms, it enjoyed a resurgence for public buildings and churches. Zion shows the decorative possibilities of Milwaukee’s distinctive cream brick. The present brick-clad outer walls and corner towers were installed over the original clapboard-sided walls in 1908. The extensive round-arched corbeling of these brick walls adds to the intricacy of the main facade.
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Bethel Baptist Church (Zion Lutheran Church)
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