Northway and Broad Street
Greendale, Wisconsin

America's third New Deal-era green suburb was built in the southwestern hinterlands of Milwaukee and was located 8 miles southwest of the urban core. A 6.4 acre section at the epicenter of the town site would be developed as GREENDALE CENTER.

Instead of the mall-type, cluster layout of Maryland's GREENBELT CENTER, or bi-level concourse at Ohio's GREENHILLS CENTER, GREENDALE CENTER would utilize a simple linear strip-of-stores format. On the north end of the complex was the Village Inn, a tavern. Next was a 2-level Post Office, connected -by covered arcade- with a movie theatre and store block structure. 

Another covered arcade connected a single-story store block, on the south end of the shopping hub. This building housed three retailers. The first of these, the Co-op Food Store, served its first patrons September 25, 1938. In the center structure, the single-screen Greendale Theatre had its gala opening in April 1939.

By this time, the GREENDALE CENTER Post Office, Co-op Variety Store, Drug Store (with luncheonette), bank, barber shop and shoe store had opened their doors. In all, GREENDALE CENTER encompassed approximately 28,000 square feet. Within a short time, the complex was being promoted as GREENDALE VILLAGE CENTER.

The first of many structural alterations got underway after the federal government sold the city and shopping center to residents and private developers...this occuring in late 1952. In December 1957, work commenced on a vacant land parcel directly across Broad Street from the existing structure.

A strip center of 42,000 square feet was built, which housed fourteen stores and services. Among these were Badger Paint, Estelle's Sausage Shop, Viele Drugs, Greendale Beer & Liquor, Village Men & Boys Wear, Kunda Jewelers, Spic-Span Laundry & Dry Cleaning and Krambo Foods. 

The new "Williamsburg-Southern Colonial Style" plaza matched the original architecture of the 1930s-vintage strip center. After the new east store block was dedicated, on November 12, 1958, a renovation of the original buildings got underway. 

By the early 1960s, the Village Inn and Post Office buildings had been substantially enlarged. An expansion of the south store block, housing a bigger Drew's Variety Store, had been completed by the early 1970s.

A major renovation of GREENDALE VILLAGE CENTER commenced soon after a local publisher purchased the property, in September 1996. New awnings, brick roofs and tower structures were added, with most facades receiving a facelift. The Greendale Public Library had moved into the shopping hub in 1974 and relocated to its vacant variety store in 1990. Its facade was also renovated. The remodeling concluded in August 1998.

Over the years, the city of Greendale became more and more affluent. As expected, the center city shopping hub, now promoted as simply VILLAGE CENTER, has been substantially gentrified. 

The Greendale Historic District, which includes VILLAGE CENTER, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in July 2005 and achieved National Historic Landmark status in October 2012. In the case of VILLAGE CENTER itself, historic preservation is rather futile. Major renovations have left little of the original structures intact.


Library of Congress /Prints and Photographs Online Catalog /
"A National Historic Landmark Nomination: Greendale Historic District"/ Linda McLelland / 2012
The Milwaukee Journal
The Milwaukee Sentinel