History records and explains past events, while folklore preserves what people widely remember.
Historic Houses in Greendale!
The third house in the series of historic Greendale houses is quite a marvel. “A man’s house is his castle”, but how many castles do you know that also have a silo?
Silo House - 5630 Gatewood Ln, Greendale, WI 53129 - Owners: Greg & Judy Turay
This beautiful, executive style 3,000 square foot house is in the "G" section between 84th Street and 92nd Street South of Grange Avenue.
At first glance it looks like a typical, charming home for this section until you look to the west side of the house, behind the garage, and see an unusual cement capped silo rising above the roof line. A closer look reveals that the house is built around the silo. When asked, Greg and Judy did
not purchase the house because of the silo but because it had five bedrooms to accommodate their six children.
When the house was built in 1986 by Richard Imes, the Village had already put a deed restriction on the lot before any type of house could be built. The silo could not be taken down. The silo is of poured concrete, probably from the 1920's. When looking back to the northwest of the back yard, one can see the twin, cement capped silo's on the Trimborn Farm and they were poured in the 1920's. The Turay silo once had a barn attached, but the date of the loss of the barn is unknown. The silo is approximately 35 feet tall with an inside diameter of 12 feet. The walls are six inches thick with several plexiglass covered windows up the side of the silo.
Even more interesting, is a remark that Greg made about filling the bottom of the silo with gravel. Apparently it took a dump truck of stone to bring up the grade of the floor to be even with the rest of the house. Rumor was the silo was built near or over a tunnel that was used during the Civil War as part of the underground railway system to aid slaves in escaping the south. To help keep the silo intact, the Turay's painted it. Not a big deal until one realizes that a bucket truck needs to be rented every few years to keep the silo in good condition.
So the house is not your typical construction, but it is home to Greg & Judy Turay.
Editor’s note: Previous houses in the series, the Ross Lodge and the Jeremiah Curtin House.
History and Folklore!
The only other standing silo’s I could locate in Greendale are on the Trimborn Farm Historic site owned and operated by the Milwaukee County Historical Society. The farm dates back to 1851 when Werner Trimborn and Jacob Kier started a lime production business. This business was enormously successful until the late 1800’s when the development of Portland cement made lime production unprofitable.
The stone barn, one of the largest in Wisconsin was started in 1958 using limestone from the quarry. The horses used in hauling the limestone were housed in the barn. From approximately 1900 until 1935 the farm was a working dairy farm owned by the Theodore Vollmer family. During that period a dairy herd was kept in the barn. The two stone silos were added in the late 1920’s.
Hindsight is always 20-20. Greendale was built on the farmland purchased by the Federal Government. Many of the farms outside the original central development were leased back to the original owners of others. They remained working farms until the Government sold Greendale to the Milwaukee Community Development Corporation and the housing expansion began (see Week#72). Then the farms and the silos were gradually torn down. How cool would it have been if more silos were saved and housing developed around them? That might not have been practical, but it would have created some really unique residential suburban neighborhoods.
But did you know?
There were two other silos near the water tower. Both were converted to Nike missile sites in the 1950s. No one knew there were there until some high school kids stumbled upon them while looking for a spot to drink beer after a High School football game. Ted Mainella says “All of this is true”.
It is curious how many ‘beer’ related stories Ted remembers from his youth……
Greendale Trivia Question and Answer:
Week#42 Answer courtesy of Kathleen Hart – The original 1937 Diamond T fire truck is retired and residing in a suburb of Salt Lake City Utah. I guess old fire trucks never die.
Week#41 Question – How many sites in the Village of Greendale are on the National registry of Historic Places? Can you name them?
** Week #41 contributors Sally Chadwick, Greg & Judy Turay, Kathleen Hart, Ted Mainella, Greendale Historical Society.