Greendale’s Story: A National Historic Landmark

Greendale was originally developed in 1936 as part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal in the wake of the Great Depression. With the purchase of 3,400 acres of farmland southwest of Milwaukee’s city limits, the federal government’s Resettlement Administration had three main objectives: to demonstrate a new kind of suburban community which combined both city and country life, to provide good housing at reasonable rents, and to provide jobs to unemployed workers. Greendale was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 2012.

Below you will find highlights and information about the history of Greendale, Wisconsin.

Greendale Municipal Court

The Greendale Municipal Court was created in 1938. The first judge to preside over the Greendale Municipal Court was Fabian Strong, who served from 1938-1949.

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The Original Police Station and Hose Tower

To serve the new community, the Village constructed a building that served as the original Police Station, Fire Station (6600 Schoolway), as well as the Annex located behind the building in the Municipal Parking Lot that served as the Hose Tower for the Fire Department to dry their hoses and provide additional storage for other municipal equipment. 1938: Police /fire building completed; Police department established May, 1938: Village of Greendale officially opened. August, 1938: 1st organized fire department meets. September, 1938: Volunteer fire department is established. August, 1939: Hose Tower Building (annex) is completed. December, 1967: New Fire Department. is opened on Loomis Road. November, 1998: New Police Department is opened on Grange Avenue. In 1972, the Fire Department moved to its own Station located at 6200 W. Loomis Road. The Old Police Station continued to house the Police Department and Municipal Court until 1998 when the Village constructed the new Safety Center at 5911 W. Grange Avenue. The Annex has remained in used by the Village and Village Community organizations for storage. Since 1998 and the move to the Safety Center, the Old Police Station has remained... read more

Filbert Street?

The Village streets were given temporary names during construction. One name of Filbert Street. The name was changed after it was found that people refused to live on a street named Filbert.

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The Model Home

A model house, with furnishings designed especially for the project, opened in Greendale at 5503 Acorn Court on February 7, 1937.

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No Basements?

Village designers viewed basements as “old fashioned, unnecessary and expensive.” Instead of basements, Greendale Originals have crawl spaces.

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1938: A Greendale Timeline

February 1, 1938: First tenant applications are filed. April 17, 1938: First Greendale tenant application accepted from Mr. and Mrs. Allen Koschin April 30, 1938: First tenants move into Greendale. Among the fist tenants were: Art Wilkums, Ken Getters, Fabian W. Strongs, Ernest Knudsen and Otto Rathmans. May 1, 1938: Greendale officially opens. July 13, 1938: Greendale Co-Op Association forms. July 31, 1938: St. Alphonsus Catholic Church holds its first mass. August 4, 1938: Greendale files to incorporate as a “Village.” August 7, 1938: St. Luke’s Lutheran Church holds its first service. August 24, 1938: First newspaper printed. September 6, 1938: First day of classes for Greendale children at the Community Building. John R. Ambruster is the principal. September 15, 1938: Volunteer Fire Department is established. September 25, 1938: Co-Op Food Store opens. The first manager is Douglas McClure. October 17, 1938: Public library opens. October 29, 1938: First “Fireman’s Ball” is held. November 1, 1938: Greendale is incorporated. November 1, 1938: Greendle Co-Op Gas and Service Station opens. Roy Almquist is the first manager. December 1, 1938: Greendale Barber Shop opens. Archie McCosh is the manager. December 12, 1938: First Village Board is elected. December 16, 1938: Greendale Post Office opens. Ed Bengs is the first... read more

Who and Why?

Greendale was primarily a project to employ laborers during the Depression. But they also aimed to build on the “garden city” model, in which housing was situated within easy access of gardens, employment, and a town center.

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