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 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 (a tavern). Next to this was a 2-level Post Office. This was linked -by covered arcade- with a movie theater and store block structure. Another covered arcade connected with a single-story store block, on the south end of GREENDALE CENTER. This building housed 3 retailers. The first of these, the Co-op Food Store, welcomed its first patrons 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, 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. Soon after its completion, most local citizens began referring to the complex as GREENDALE VILLAGE CENTER.

The first of many structural alterations 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 land parcel directly across Broad Street from the existing structure.

A strip center of 42,000 square feet 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 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 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 face lift.

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 refurbished. The remodeling was completed 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, was 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. 


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