You are here

Julius Jahnke House

-A A +A
c. 1890; c. 1911 alterations. 1942–1944 S. 24th St.
  • (Photograph by Paul J. Jakubovich, courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)

Many modest, frame, raised houses like this can be seen in South Side. It is a “Polish flat,” a two-family dwelling with the main living unit in the house above and a second apartment in the basement. A century ago, Polish flats provided affordable housing for thousands of Milwaukee’s working-class immigrants. As a vernacular house type, it looks simple enough, but questions remain why no other working-class ethnic immigrants adopted this design and why it was built only in Milwaukee.

Hundreds of Polish flats were built between about 1890 and 1915, when Polish immigrants and ethnic Germans from Poland arrived in Milwaukee. The Jahnke House was similar to houses built before the turn of the century, begun as conventional single-family cottages that were later raised on masonry or wooden basements to create the lower apartment. Its upper part was built around 1890 on another site. The clapboard cottage features scaled-down trappings of Queen Anne style, including a large three-part front window and an attractive wooden front porch, trimmed with the mass-produced spindle work. Sometime between 1911 and 1913, Jahnke bought this cottage, moved it to its current location, and placed it atop a tall concrete-block basement to create the characteristic lower-level apartment. Jahnke lived in the top unit with his wife.

Writing Credits

Marsha Weisiger et al.


What's Nearby


Marsha Weisiger et al., "Julius Jahnke House", [Milwaukee, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—,

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 109-109.

If SAH Archipedia has been useful to you, please consider supporting it.

SAH Archipedia tells the story of the United States through its buildings, landscapes, and cities. This freely available resource empowers the public with authoritative knowledge that deepens their understanding and appreciation of the built environment. But the Society of Architectural Historians, which created SAH Archipedia with University of Virginia Press, needs your support to maintain the high-caliber research, writing, photography, cartography, editing, design, and programming that make SAH Archipedia a trusted online resource available to all who value the history of place, heritage tourism, and learning.

, ,