1880s firehouse to become Wantable president’s home

Jalem Getz planning to convert former Milwaukee Fire House Ladder Company building into residence

Rendering by Consortium.

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.

Rendering by Consortium.

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.

Rendering of the back of the building by Consortium.

“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.

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