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Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

2603 N LAKE DR

Architecture and History Inventory
2603 N LAKE DR | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Frederic Palmer Rugee House
Other Name:Neha Towns House
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:30223
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):2603 N LAKE DR
County:Milwaukee
City:Milwaukee
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1904
Additions:
Survey Date:1980
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:German Renaissance Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Stone - Unspecified
Architect:CHARLES D. CRANE
Other Buildings On Site:
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: North Point North Historic District
National Register Listing Date:3/24/2000
State Register Listing Date:7/16/1999
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation-Public History.

CHARLES A. KLEPPE WAS THE CARPENTER AND ERNST WINTER THE MASON. Frederic Palmer Rugee built this home for his family in 1903. He and his wife Nellie (Helen) Morse and their two children Mabel and Charles where about to move in when Nellie died during childbirth in Aug of 1903. When the house was finished Frederic moved in and with the help of servants raised his two young children there. Frederic was the son of John Christopher Rugee Sr. (1827 – 1894). A German immigrant who made his fortune in lumber (Durr & Rugee) and as a contractor designing and/or constructing several prominent buildings in Milwaukee; the old County Court House, St. Peter's Evangelical Lutheran Church @ 1214 S 8th St, Pritzlaff Hardware Building 333 N Plankinton Ave. He also had his hand in the building of the old Pabst and Best breweries. He also was a member of the state legislature and Milwaukee sheriff. Frederic and his brother John C. Rugee Jr. (who built the brick house directly across the street at 2604 N. Lake) were entrepreneurs putting their money in many manufacturing businesses including The Merkel Motorcycle Co. which started in Milwaukee. After a few years Frederic remarried. His new wife was Florence Twitty of Chicago. They soon had a little girl Betty Wynn. They lived in the house thru the late teens selling the house about 1919. They were getting ready to move West. At that time they were building a new home in Hollywood CA up on Sunset Blvd. After they sold the house they started a cross country motor trip. They had all their belongings shipped out by train which was sitting in the Los Angeles railroad yard awaiting the completion of their new home when tragedy struck. Frederic Palmer Rugee caught the Spanish Influenza and passed away in 1921. Florence decided to move back to Milwaukee, having the train car shipped back after which she and her young daughter moved into the Astor Apts. She never remarried.

Frederic Palmer Rugee b 24 Mar 1872 Milwaukee WI d 4 Apr 1921 Los Angeles CA
Helen Morse Rugee b 1 Sep 1872 Laurel IA d 13 Aug 1903 Hartfield WI
Florence Twitty Rugee b 21 Jun 1880 Chicago IL d 16 Jan 1970 San Mateo CA
Betty Wynn Rugee b 3 Nov 1908 Milwaukee WI d 28 Nov 1999 Carmel CA
Charles Morse Rugee b 18 Oct 1899 Milwaukee WI d 3 Jul Des Moines IA
Mabel Morse Rugee b 20 Oct 1896 Wisconsin d 7 Dec 1895 Florida
John Christopher Rugee SR b 3 Jan 1827 Lubeck Germany d 7 Mar 1894 Redlands CA

"This house is a rare example of a German Renaissance Revival style house built by an architect as his own residence. Charles D. Crane was a partner with Carl Barkhausen in a firm that specialized in designing houses in German styles for wealthy German-Americans. Although Crane was not of German descent and had already dissolved his business ties with Barkhausen when this house was built, it nevertheless pays homage to the type of building that had made the firm locally famous and highly successful. Located on a corner lot in a prestigious neighborhood, this house is constructed of rare rose colored Prentice quarry stone laid in alternating courses of wide and narrow bands. The otherwise symmetrical house is given a more picturesque character by the German style stepped gable, which is the simplest of those featured in this guidebook. The curved-roof front porch, which seems somewhat out of character with the house, was added in 1924.

Charles D. Crane was born in Johnson's Creek, New York into an old pioneer family that moved to Wisconsin in 1853. In 1874 Crane began to work for prominent Milwaukee architect E. T. Mix, and later went into partnership with Carl Barkhausen from 1888 to 1899. There are several examples of their German Renaissance Revival work in this booklet. This house was one of a series that Crane would build and live in briefly before selling at a profit. Crane apparently supplemented his income as an architect by this small scale real estate speculation. Crane lived here only through 1904 before selling the house to Frederick Palmer Rugee, the son of successful German immigrant entrepreneur John Rugee. Frederick Rugee served as the secretary and treasurer of the Nordberg Manufacturing Co. and was also a contractor whose swinging bridge at Port Huron, Michigan won special recognition. Rugee purchased this house after the death of his first wife and lived here through 1917. The Crane House is in the City of Milwaukee's North Point North Historic District." MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994.
Bibliographic References:MILWAUKEE ETHNIC HOUSES TOUR, CITY OF MILWAUKEE DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENT, 1994. Ref 1910 US Census Milwaukee WI Supervisors District #4, Enumerated District #200, Ward 18, Sheet #3a John C Rugee Sr bio Memoirs of Milwaukee County : from the earliest historical times down to the present, including a genealogical and biographical record of representative families in Milwaukee County by Watrous, Jerome Anthony, 1840- ed Published 1909 Page 165.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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