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Izumi’s Restaurant (Milwaukee-Western Fuel Company Building)

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1934, Herbert Tullgren. 2150 N. Prospect Ave.

Milwaukee-Western Fuel Company’s choice of Tullgren’s design for their new headquarters led to one of Milwaukee’s most sophisticated structures. Tullgren elegantly wedded terra-cotta detailing and Art Deco elements to the machine-inspired aesthetic, producing an interwar masterpiece. The building’s abstract shapes, powerful lines, and exuberant, multicolored masonry are alluring. Repeated black banding introduces a streamlined horizontal motion across the column bases, subtly echoed by the lines of lighter-colored bricks laid into darker brown brick walls. Orange-colored engaged columns dominate the facade, lined up with machine-like regularity. Their strong vertical thrust abruptly terminates in black terra-cotta stripes and grooved orange caps. Decorative details complement Tullgren’s bold shapes, colors, and lines. Bas-relief pictorial panels trace the epic of American coal production. In heroic scenes reminiscent of New Deal–era public art, workers tear the coal from the ground, haul it by truck, train, and barge, and shovel it into the furnace’s raging fire. Less conspicuously, a small black diamond company trademark originally flanked the firm’s name in metal letters above the colonnade. Tullgren’s composition became an impressive advertisement for the company and the industry.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Marsha Weisiger et al.
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Citation

Marsha Weisiger et al., "Izumi’s Restaurant (Milwaukee-Western Fuel Company Building)", [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WI-01-MI154.

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 142-143.

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