Last updated on May 15th, 2019 at 04:48 pm
Downtown frame shop Milwaukee Moulding & Frame Corp., located in the Water Street bar district, will shutter its doors before the new year, closing the books on a 100-year-long history.
At the age of 69, owner Tom Deer says he is ready to retire, after almost 45 years with the retailer, located since 1945 at 1215 N. Water St. When it first opened in 1918, its location was likely somewhere on East Wells Street, Deer said.
Located between Borthers Bar & Grill and Red Rock Saloon, the two-story 4,420-square-foot Milwaukee Moulding & Frame store building seems almost misplaced among the many bars and restaurants on the block.
Deer has owned Milwaukee Moulding & Frame, alongside partners Angelo Buscemi and brother-in-law Dennis Roddy, for 39 years.
They purchased it in 1979 from the late Alice Gryphan, who was a close friend of Deer’s family, he said. Gryphan had worked as a framer at the store since she was 17, and later bought the business from founder George Brown.
With no children of her own to take over operations, Gryphan selected Deer, then in his 20s, for the task, and primed him with on-the-job training at the shop.
Decades of experience later, he has developed his own knack for the trade and for serving the store’s loyal customer base.
“As much as I enjoyed doing the framing, dealing with customers one-on-one was very rewarding,” Deer said. “I will probably miss that just as much as I will miss the framing aspect.”
He wanted to see the business through to its 100th year, he said, and when it closes later this month, Deer will have met his goal.
The 143-year-old Milwaukee Moulding & Frame building, which Deer owns, is assessed at $234,000 according to city records. He also owns the adjacent parking lot.