The president and founder of Wantable Inc. is planning to convert a 131-year-old former Milwaukee Fire House building on the city’s East Side into his residence.
Jalem Getz purchased the former Milwaukee Fire House Ladder Company No. 5 building at 1945 Bartlett Ave., in May from ABC Kortsch Moving & Storage Co., Inc. The company had owned the two-story brick structure since the mid-1920s and used it as warehouse storage, Getz said.
“I’ve always wanted to own a firehouse and turn it into a residence,” Getz said. “This building has such a unique history because it was a Sebastian Brand house.”
Brand, a German immigrant firefighter and mason turned architect, built fire houses in the 1800s, before fire engines, when horse and hoses were used to put out fires. He constructed No. 5 in 1886.
“It has a lot of unique features, like the original staircase and an outhouse, Getz said. “The building is in really good shape. When I found out it was on the market, I made an offer that day, for its asking price.”
Getz paid $359,000 for the firehouse, according to state records, and said he plans to invest a significant amount of money into the building.
He is working with architect Gregg Prossen at Milwaukee-based Consortium architectural firm on the project, which specializes in historic renovations.
Getz would like to add a penthouse level to the 4,572-square-foot building. He’ll ask the city’s Historic Preservation Commission for approval Sept. 11.
If approved, he would like to begin construction in October.