Northway and Broad Street
Greendale, Wisconsin

America's third New Deal-era green suburb was built on the outskirts 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 open-air mall layout of Maryland's GREENBELT CENTER, or bi-level format at Ohio's GREENHILLS CENTER, GREENDALE CENTER would consist of a simple linear strip of stores. 

On the north end of the complex was the Village Inn, then a 2-level Post Office. This was linked, by covered arcade, with a movie theater building. A second covered arcade connected with a single-story store block on the south end

This building housed 3 retailers. The first of these, the Co-op Food Store, welcomed its first customers on September 25, 1938. The single-screen Greendale Theatre, which was originally operated as a co-op facility, presented its first feature on April 29, 1939. 

By this time, a Post Office, Co-op Variety Store, Drug Store, bank, barber shop and shoe store had opened their doors. In all, GREENDALE CENTER encompassed approximately 28,000 square feet. Soon after its completion, local citizens began referring to the complex as GREENDALE VILLAGE CENTER.

The first of many renovations got underway after the federal government sold the city and its shopping center to residents and private developers. Most transactions were conducted during 1952 and 1953. In December 1957, work commenced at a vacant parcel directly across the street from the shopping facility.

A (42,000 square foot) strip center was built, which housed approximately 14 stores and services. Among these were Badger Paint, Estelle's Sausage Shop, Viele Drugs, Greendale Beer & Liquor, Village Men & Boy's Wear, Kunda Jewelers, Spic-Span Laundry & Dry Cleaning and Krambo Foods. 

The new "Williamsburg-Southern Colonial" -style plaza was dedicated on November 12, 1958. Its facade matched the original architecture of the 1930s strip center. 

A renovation of the original buildings was underway by the early 1960s, with the Village Inn and Post Office being substantially enlarged. An expansion of the south store block, housing a larger Drew's Variety Store, had been completed by the early 1970s.

A local publisher purchased the property in September 1996. A major renovation commenced soon after. New awnings, brick roofs and tower structures were added, with most facades receiving a "Post-Modern" face lift. 

The center city shopping hub, now promoted as simply VILLAGE CENTER, had been substantially gentrified, with its historic integrity compromised. The Greendale Public Library had moved into the shopping hub in 1974 and relocated to its newly-vacant variety store in 1990. The building's facade was refurbished. 

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. 


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