The word prospect comes from the Latin prospectus, meaning a distant view and from prōspicere, that means “to look into the distance.” The use of this term to signify an extended outlook over a scene can best describe how location, siting and views determine the choice of homes. Houses in the Historic Water Tower neighborhood are carefully located. The history of this neighborhood stands testimony to the power of site and prospect in the growth of a settlement.
John Gurda writes about the expansion of rich houses on Yankee Hill “reaching the lake bluff in the 1860s and then edging up Prospect Avenue. By 1890 the avenue, with its magnificent 'prospect' of the lake, boasted one of the finest assortments of Victorian mansions in the Midwest. … Speculators who held land in the North Point area had long sensed that a wave of affluence was heading in their direction. North Point South (between Lafayette Place and North Avenue) was subdivided and offered for sale as early as 1854.”
But it was later in 1890 during the development of Lake Park that the neighborhood really flourished. Gurda explains, “As Prospect Avenue filled to capacity, well-to-do Milwaukeeans turned right at Lafayette Place and turned North Point into one of the most prestigious residential districts Milwaukee has ever known. Pabsts, Blatzes, Falks, Vogels, Brumders, and Smiths built homes that epitomized the latest and most luxurious in architectural trends.”
The two homes showcased in this section have a special relationship to the lake and the bluff at the edge of the neighborhood. Standing inside these homes, one may gaze at the lake and see the sky change during the day. Although the artificial beach and the Lincoln Memorial Drive separate these properties from the water, in the past, the lake came closer to the property lines and in some instances bluff side homes had private lakefronts. If we observe the architectural layout, interior detailing, and window placements in these homes we appreciate the amount of thought and effort put in relating these abodes to their contexts.
John Gurda, “Northpoint Milwaukee,” City of Milwaukee, 1985 (accessed July 16, 2013)