John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.
In 1871, Warren and Beulah Brinton built their new house at what is now 2590 S. Superior St. Warren worked in the office at the Bay View Rolling Mill and his wife Beulah was the cousin of Eber Brock Ward who owned iron mines, a shipping company on the Great Lakes and the Bay View Rolling Mill. In 1868, the first steel rail came off the line of the rolling mill. Eber. B. Ward purchased a large amount of land in the Town of Lake. He built one of the largest Bessemer Steel making plants in the country. He also built workers cottages for the married couples to live in. The Palmer House and at least one other building was used for the single workers at the rolling mill as a rooming house. The one rule that he established in all of his land, was that no alcoholic beverages were to used or served on any of his properties. The Bay View United Methodist Church was started in the superintendent's office at the rolling mill. In 1879, the Village of Bay View was incorporated out of the Town of Lake. In 1874, the rolling mill, the Amalgamated Iron Workers and the Sons of Vulcan built the Puddler Hall. It was used for plays, lodge meetings, classes and general meetings. All of the lodges of Bay View started here. Earlier, the Town of Lake built the Red Brick School to use as a town hall and as a school. When Bay View became a village, this building became the grade school, high school and college for the village. If the children were bad, there was always an empty jail cell inside of the school. Most of the rolling mill workers came from Europe. Some also came from New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and other states where they had the Bessemer steel system in place. Most of the east part of Bay View had people from the British Isles. Many of the people of the west part of Bay View were of German descent. The signs in the rolling mill were in English, German and Polish. The Kashubes live on Jones Island and in the area of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church, which was one of the first Polish Churches in the country. These people built both St. Stanislaus and St. Hedwig's Catholic churches.
Beulah Brinton used her own house to start the first social center in the United States. She taught English to the workers and their families. she also taught housekeeping skills to the wives of the workers. The tennis courts in her yard were used for recreation for the workers families. She wrote at least two books on Christian living. At times, in her church, the Bay View United Methodist Church, she gave the sermon instead of the church pastor. She was very involved in her church. When her house became too small for her classes, she moved them to the Puddler Hall during the week. She loved to teach the people and they loved her for it. With the help of her cousin, Eber Brock Ward, she founded the first lending library in Milwaukee in her house. For a while she moved to Chicago to live with her son. About 1922, she came back to her house on Superior St. and began a social center again. This time she used the old Bay View fire house for a building. After 1924, when she died, the fire house was named the Beulah Brinton Community Center in her honor. In the 1960's, they razed the old building. On September 1, 1981, a new Beulah Brinton Community Center received its occupancy certificate from the City of Milwaukee. This new building is located at 2555 S. Bay Street, and is the only freestanding social center owned by Milwaukee Public Schools Recreation Division without a school attached to it. This center is the most efficient of all of the recreation buildings owned by MPS. There is a web site for it on Bay View Now.com. In tradition of a very great lady, we have named this center. Her old house has been purchased by the Bay View Historical Society and is looking for additional funding to support the house and to make it handicapped accessible for the general public to use. If you have time, look at the house as you pass by, and then look up the Bay View Historical Society web site for information on it and Bay View history. Please support the community of Bay View.