courtesy of Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
Milwaukee’s Chudnow Museum is marking the centennial
of Waukesha native Dan Hoan’s becoming mayor of
Milwaukee, as well as recalling Wisconsinite Robert
LaFollette's 1924 presidential campaign.
Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear
a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m.
Sundays at 839 N. 11th St., Milwaukee, the Chudnow’s
admission prices are $5 for adults, $4 for students and
seniors. Children younger than 6 are admitted free.
- Just in time for Wisconsin’s presidential preference
primary on Tuesday, an area museum has unveiled a pair of
Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, 839 N. 11th St., is marking the
100th anniversary of Waukesha-born Daniel Webster Hoan’s
election as Milwaukee’s mayor. As a Socialist (the second of
three to lead Wisconsin’s largest city during the 20th
century), Hoan foreshadowed the politics of current
presidential candidate Bernie Sanders. Hoan eventually forsook
the Socialists in favor of the Democratic Party, while
self-described democratic socialist Sanders is running for the
White House as a Democrat.
kind of unique in America,” Chudnow Museum executive
director Steve Daily said in a telephone interview with regard
to Milwaukee. “We were a big city that adopted Socialism on
a large scale.” Former city attorney Hoan’s six-term,
24-year tenure atop Milwaukee’s government represents the
longest continuous Socialist administration in United States
annals. The 1916-40 Hoan administration has been lengthier
than any other in city history, except for the 1960-88
mayoralty of Henry Maier.
Socialist predecessor and follower in the mayor’s office
were, respectively, Emil Seidel (1910-12) and Frank Zeidler
(1948-60). Ironically, it was Zeidler’s older brother Carl -
a Democrat - who defeated Hoan at the polls and thus denied
him a seventh term.
exhibit to commemorate the centennial of Hoan’s accession to
city hall, noted Daily, are a number of “vintage election
posters,” plus “photographs (from) different points in his
career.” The photos include one of Hoan riding in a parade
with honored guest Charles Lindbergh, the aviator.
of Milwaukee’s 44 mayors “was kind of a celebrity in his
own right,” according to Daily. The museum director
explained that Hoan, for whom the bridge that connects
Interstate 794 to the Lake Freeway is named, managed to keep
his city “in the black” during the Great Depression. He
then traveled the country telling how he’d done so, touting
the merits of Socialism in the process. Accomplishments of the
Hoan administration include the nation’s first public bus
system and first public housing project (Garden Homes, several
miles northwest of Milwaukee’s downtown). Daily mentioned
the “clean water system he helped to spur”; Hoan also has
been credited with purifying city politics, among other
was starting his third term as mayor, fellow Badger Robert M.
La Follette Sr. was running for president on the ticket of his
own Progressive Party, which Daily identified as a liberal
branch of Republicanism. In the first presidential election
that utilized radio, that of 1924, “Fighting Bob” garnered
17 percent of the popular vote. La Follette also carried
Wisconsin, the state he served as governor and U.S. senator,
although Republican incumbent Calvin Coolidge was returned to
the White House.
Chudnow Museum’s La Follette mannequin is temporarily
joining the museum’s train station exhibit in a nod to the
whistle stop practice of campaigns past. Visitors can listen
to an excerpt from a speech by the candidate Daily labeled
“just a little bit ahead of his time” as an advocate of
such ideas as workers’ compensation.
Chudnow website adds that La Follette’s
‘24 running mate was Sen. Burton Wheeler of Montana
and that “their platform included curbing military spending,
ending monopolies, nationalizing several key industries,
forming a national retirement pension for the working class
and regulating banking practices.”
of the 140-year-old Chudnow building rather recall the
Milwaukee Public Museum’s “Streets of Old Milwaukee.”
Among the Chudnow’s permanent exhibits are a movie theater,
a barber shop, stores and a doctor’s clinic. There are also
a relatively new fashion exhibit concentrating on the flapper
phenomenon of the 1920s and hallway display featuring early
always try to relate to our time period” (the period between
the World Wars, encompassing the 1920s and ‘30s), Daily
said, and Hoan “was a big part of those two decades in
Milwaukee” - just as
La Follette was a big part of the earlier decade in the Badger
State and beyond.