Frederick Koenig House
Legal Description: F Koenig's Subd in NE 1/4
Sec 24-7-21 Block 2 Lots
7,8,9,10,11,12 and 13
Born in Germany, Frederick Koenig immigrated to Milwaukee in 1844. He married Philippine Stephen and they had two daughters. Koenig was the president of the Milwaukee and Brookfield Macadamized Turnpike Company. According to Dave Boucher, Koenig bought property along the Lisbon Plank Road from Franz Joseph Uhrig in 1882. He hired Henry Messmer, an architect who designed St. Casmir's Church, to design his home. A barn and stable was also built. The buildings were finished within the year.
When the city of Milwaukee decided to develop the area surrounding Lisbon Plank Road in 1897, Koenig's house was moved from its location facing north toward Lisbon Plank Road to its present location which is just south of Lisbon Avenue, facing east. Koenig decided to remodel his home and acquired the architectural services of F. W. Andree and the building services of Oscar Fromm. Andree and Fromm transformed the house from a Victorian-styled place to a mansion in the Classical Revival style. Both porches were added, along with the front porch columns. The cupola expanded along the exterior clapboard walls. The house was topped off with a flat and gabled roof. The carved garland swags, wreaths, and leaf brackets that decorated the interior clapboard walls were not custom built. Andree chose popular decorative and structural pieces such as staircases, doors, and stained glass windows from catalogs. Most of these structural and decorative elements exist in and around the house today.
As guests enter the foyer, they are impressed by the main staircase and the twenty-two feet ceiling ascension. Beyond the foyer is the dining room, but a door and wall obstruct the view. Instead, guests are drawn to the double French doors to the left, which leads them to the parlor. The parlor space was used for short visits and entertainment. The living room is adjacent to the parlor. The Koenigs and guests would have spent most of their time in the living room, since it was the only social area that had a fireplace. Nestled in the back of the house, surrounded by the foyer that led to the kitchen and the social spaces, is the library. It is the only other area that has a fireplace. This space creates privacy and invites solitude - ideal for reading, intimate conversations, and business transactions. The kitchen is in the very back of the home. This was the servant's domain. As a person moves through the home, the space changes from outward impression, the attractive foyer and parlor, to personal and household stewardship - the library and kitchen.
The Koenig family employed a servant, Molly, who came during the day to take care of the house. Movement and space within the house reflected the class divisions of the time. A servant's movement was in the back of the house, where the kitchen and two pantries are located. The house didn't have custom built hallways to distinguish the servant spaces from the private quarters and public spaces; they were made naturally by how the interior was constructed. From the kitchen, the servant moved straight through the living room to the parlor. On the other side of the kitchen, when she served the meal, she passed the china pantry through the swinging door to the dining room. A plain staircase is just outside the kitchen. The servant would have use this stairwell to go up to the second floor bedrooms. These spaces allowed easy movement for the servant. However, the swinging door shuts naturally. This function created a wall between working class and upper class domains. Also, the pantry, side entrance, and back staircase and porch created the space that separated employer and servant.
Rigid class, spatial, occupational divides changed during the 20th century. Koenig died in 1907 and his wife passed away in 1927. Washington Park experienced a lot of growth for the next thirty to forty years. In 1930, the house was owned by Charles Litow, a realtor. He rented the place to Mrs. Lucy Carter in 1940. Twenty years later, John and Dorothea Feypel owned the house. Mr. Feypel was also in the real estate business. During the 1980s, Washington Park took a steep economic downturn. Up and coming individuals weren't moving into the area. Because of their passion for preservation, Gerry Coon and Stewart Dempsey bought the house from Norman D. Zoschke, a former chef at the Wisconsin club. They restored the walls, floors, and moldings and the exterior walls, roof, and landscape. They use the side entrance and spend most of their time in the kitchen and libary. At night, they retire to the television room on the second floor. The space that the servant spent most of her time is now occupied by the owners. The Frederick Koenig house is a fine example of how the meaning and purpose of space changed over time. It is a reflection of the cultural transitions that took place in society.