Structure Type: built works - commercial buildings - shopping centers

Designers: Graham, John and Company, Architects and Engineers (firm); John Graham Jr. (architect)

Dates: constructed 1953-1956

1 story, total floor area: 745,000 sq. ft.

West Capitol Drive and North 60th Street
Capitol Heights, Milwaukee, WI 53216

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In 1952, Milwaukee-based department store chain, Ed Schuster and Company, bought 65 acres, on a north-side site bounded by Capitol Drive, North 60th Street and West Fond du Lac Avenue, for large-scale commercial development. The Seattle-based architectural firm, John Graham and Company, designed Capitol Court soon after its success with Northgate Shopping Center (1950). Northgate made a national impact, and commissions for out-of-state jobs like Capitol Court came to Graham as a result; between 1950 and 1979, John Graham and Company designed at least 20 shopping centers or malls in 12 states (or Canadian provinces), from WA to MA. Like Northgate, Capitol Court was an open-air design formed around a large central Schuster's department store, (merged in 04/1962 with the Gimbel's Department Store chain). A smaller, 65,000-square-foot anchor, the two-floor T.A. Chapman Store, also was an original tenant. Most stores in the configuration were planned on a single floor, while the 260,000-square-foot Schuster building had three. Graham undertook the design in 1952-1953, with groundbreaking occurring in 09/1953. As at Northgate, Graham originally included a medical office building in its Capitol Court design, although this was never built. Designed to occupy 57 acres, Capitol Court was the first large shopping Center in the Milwaukee area, and cost approximately $20 million to erect. The enterprise of fifteen stores opened on 08/28/1956, and saw rapid success, buoyed by the opening of a 50,000-square foot J.C. Penney's two months later, eventually enlarging to 51 businesses within a year.

Archival documents on Capitol Court can be found in the Milwaukee County Historical Society, "Capitol Court, 1951-2000," Mss-2995. (See "Capitol Court, 1951-2000,"Accessed 11/03/2014.)

A large addition opened in 09/1959 adding 60,000 square feet and seventeen new stores. Efforts to renovate facades occurred periodically, the last in the early 1990s. Capitol Court went from being a shopping center to an enclosed shopping mall between 03/1977 and 08/1978.

Demolished; Capitol Court was torn down in stages. First, two of its large department stores were razed in the mid 1990s. This left approximately 650,000 square feet still remaining for about seven years. In early 2001, demolition of the entire development occurred. Midtown Center, a 563,000-square-foot development, was built on Capitol Center's site, opening in 2002.

PCAD id: 19444