Monday, June 22


Milwaukee Mediterranean

Just when you think you've figured out the Midwest, and you're driving through acres of tract ranch houses wondering when they're going to end, you stumble across an Italian villa on the shores of Lake Michigan, or a gigantic basilica built out of pieces of a former post office. Saturday's random discoveries included a couple of examples of Milwaukee Mediterranean architecture, one of which had been converted into a Laoatian Buddhist temple, complete with fu dogs and pink and saffron rafter-tails.

The stylistic micro-climate of Milwaukee Mediterranean crops up all over the place in town; already unexpected, it crops up in even stranger ways than you might suppose. I have seen everything from dilapidated store fronts to half-a-dozen apartment blocks done up in its distinctive brown brick and faintly Plateresque-Romanesque detailing. First, a house or small block of flats I spotted in West Allis.

Then, a somewhat run-down commercial structure in the same style with a surprising little cupola crowning the ensemble.

And now, a Buddhist temple in a most unexpected style.

Seriously, just when you think you've run out of things to discover...

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