MILWAUKEE COUNTY LANDMARKS
West Milwaukee High School
5104 West Greenfield Avenue
Landmark Designation: 1983
Starting in October of 1927, West Milwaukee students were able to attend high school in their own community. Before this time, students wishing to further their education beyond the elementary level had to attend classes at West Allis or Bay View area high schools.
The new West Milwaukee High School was planned by the architectural firm of Martin Tullgren and Sons of Milwaukee, and included an Alhambresque façade, light colored brick, columns and a red tile roof. Most schools built in the 1920s were constructed in the classical or Tudor style, but West Milwaukee High School differed with its Mediterranean styling.
The school was first founded as a junior high. It became a full four year secondary school in 1928 and held its first commencement exercises there in 1929. To accommodate a growing student enrollment, an addition matching the style of the original building was completed in 1937 according to designs by Associate Architects (Herbert L. Edling and Henry P. Plunkett). A new cafeteria, gymnasium and more classrooms were added in 1953 to the north of the original structure. In 1976, another major remodeling project was undertaken to upgrade the facilities. Among the more famous graduates of West Milwaukee High School was Walter Liberace, pianist and entertainer, from the class of 1937.
4023 West National Avenue
Landmark Designation: 1991
A Scottish immigrant named A.J. Johnston established the A.J. Johnston Confectionery and Cracker Company in 1848 as a local supplier of cookies and crackers. Within a few years the company had a regional and national reputation for high quality products. In 1899, his son Robert built the first factory and expanded the product line into chocolates and toppings. By 1920-23, a modern Art Deco manufacturing and office facility was constructed by Herman J. Esser to house all Robert A. Johnston’s operations. A multi-million dollar updating and new research and development center was implemented in the early 1990s. This seven-story building still serves as a key manufacturing plant as well as the company’s corporate headquarters.
Ward Foods acquired the company in 1970 and were themselves bought out in 1980 by Terson Holdings. In the early 1990s, under Chairman and CEO Joe A. Masterson the company became one of the premier national suppliers of ice cream toppings, chocolate syrups and ice cream ingredients. Strict adherence to quality control standards and innovative product and packaging developments have always been the cornerstones at the Johnston Company. The company is representative of the growth of West Milwaukee as an industrial suburb, and the movement of old-line companies from the city to outlying new communities. It also serves as an example of Milwaukee’s historic role in the food industry.