Did You Hear the One About the Polish Flat?

Courtesy of britmum@Flickr

Courtesy of britmum@Flickr

I tried, but I couldn’t come up with a joke for that. “Polish Flats” are common here in the Milwaukee area. I’ve recently been exploring the area where my great-great-grandfather, Frank Zalewski, and his family resided when they immigrated to Milwaukee in 1891. Frank and his family’s first house was located at 902 Pulaski Street in Milwaukee. They are noted to live there until about 1898 when they moved to 900 Fratney Street.

According to researchers at UWM in Milwaukee, “A ‘Polish flat’ is an American workers’ cottage that has been raised to create a new basement floor, thus becoming a modest two-story flat.” [More information here.] The Pulaski street area is full of these types of houses. They even built them two or three-deep at certain points, so it makes finding the right house a mess. You can see on this Google Maps link just how crowded they built these houses.

I assume the house on Pulaski street is still standing. Unfortunately, the city of Milwaukee underwent a massive address overhaul in 1931 and most of the addresses in that area have changed. There is no common mathematical equation used to figure out the new address, since they based it on measurements. I did find a guide on how to find the general range of the new address, which should be in the 1800 range now.The 1930 census still lists the old addresses, so that doesn’t help.

From the 1900-1930 census, the family of Jacob Zalewski lived at 902 Pulaski. This is the man I assume is some relation to Frank, possibly a brother, since they both lived there for years. Jacob passed away sometime between 1913 and 1920 according to census records. His wife Pauline was living there in the 1930 census with her children. The earliest city directory available at Ancestry after 1930 is the 1937 directory. I checked under Zalewski and it lists Pauline as passing away on December 30, 1936 and lists no address. There are three listings for Zalewskis on Pulaski street: Jacob G, Leo, and Joseph. These are three names of Jacob and Pauline’s sons, though they are also popular Polish names. They all live from 1758 to 1762 Pulaski Street. If I had to take an educated guess, this is probably where Frank Zalewski lived when he came to Milwaukee. Here is a view of it at Google Street View (you’ll need to find the house pushed way back, Google doesn’t automatically point at it.) I also happened to find another photo of it while searching for Pulaski Street information.

I drove through the area at my lunchtime on Monday since it’s only a few miles from where I work. It’s very hard to get around if you don’t know the area due to a lot of one-way streets. Now that I have a better idea, I may make another trip for some photos.

Photo:

About Brian Zalewski

I started genealogy research about mid-1999. My grandfather had passed away in April of that year. Since then I’ve done a lot of research not only for myself, but for friends and other relatives. In 2006, I married the love of my life, Darcy, and welcomed the birth of our daughter, Aerissa Jean, in 2010 and our son, Xander Lee, in 2012. I can’t wait to tell them stories about all of their ancestors.

Additional Resources

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