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1405 College Avenue

1405 College Avenue, Racine, WisconsinI mentioned on the home page of this site that I grew up in 1405 College Avenue in what was a beautiful white Queen Anne-style house, built in about 1900. I have a lot of fond memories of our neighbors, of Winslow School, our yard, and all the nooks and crannies for exploration in our house.

When we moved into the house in 1970, we had the Paur family to the north of us and the Von Germetens to the south of us, and one house further south, my piano teacher Ms. Schroeder.

We heard vague stories from our neighbors about the people who used to live in our house, but I'd never seen anything in writing until I found this entry in the Commemorative Biographical Record of Prominent and Representative Men of Racine and Kenosha Counties, Wisconsin:

ELMER E. GITTINS, senior member of the firm Gittins & Burgess, attorneys-at-law of Racine, Wis., is a native of Racine county, where he was born Aug. 31, 1869, son of Ellis and Jane (Gittins) Gittins, natives of Wales.

Ellis Gittins came to America come time in the early forties, locating in Utica, N.Y., where he engaged in farming for some years and then came to Racine county, purchasing a farm of 140 acres in Caledonia township, where the remainder of his life was spent. He died aged sixty-three years, while his widow still survives him and resides in Racine. She is a Methodist in religious faith, to which church Mr. Gittins also belonged. They had three children: Nellie, the wife of Richard Williams, of Chicago; John and Miss Sarah, of Racine; William, of Chicago; and Ellis J. and Elmer E., of Racine.

This garage used to belong to 1405 College Avenue. Notice the door facing south, in the back yard of 1405.Elmer E. Gittins was reared on his father's farm in Caledonia township, and first attended the district schools, and graduated from Racine High School in 1889. He then entered the University of Wisconsin, at Madison, graduating in 1895, after which he entered the law school of the university, from which he then graduated in 1897, being admitted to the Bar the same year. He began practice in Racine, where he has since continued. In 1898, Mr. Gittins formed a partnership with Mr. E. R. Burgess, the firm being known as Gittins & Burgess. In 1902 Mr. Gittins was elected district attorney, the duties of which office he took up in January, 1903. Politically, Mr. Gittins is a Republican. Fraternally he belongs to Lodge No. 18, F. & A. M., and is also a member of the Kymric Club and the Racine Business Men's Club. Mr. Gittins resides at No. 1405 College avenue, with his mother.

Back of 1405 College Avenue, Racine, WisconsinDoing a little research on the web tells me that E. R. Burgess was Ezra Roy Burgess, who lived at 1344 College Avenue, very close to 1405 College Avenue. In fact, I believe that 1344 College Avenue was among two or three houses that once stood in Winslow School's playground, and now is a parking lot for St. Luke's Hospital.

According to this Mound Cemetery archive, Elmer's mother Jane died on December 17, 1919, aged 93 years. Elmer himself died not much later on September 16, 1929, which would have made him only 49 years old at his death.

Elmer's obituary is below in the 1929 entry of newspaper articles about 1405 College avenue.

Newspaper articles from Newspaper Archives, thanks to Rip Holly, another Racine history buff:


Sarah Jane Gittins (ed.: sister of Judge Elmer Gittins), once of the best known ladies of Racine, died at 9:15 o'clock this morning at her home 1405 College avenue, aged 48 years. Deceased was born on April 23, 1862, in the town of Caledonia, and was the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Gittins. She was reared and educated in the town of Caledonia, and was popular with all and highly esteemed for her many noble qualifications.

She was one of the leading members of the Eastern Star and is survived by a mother, one sister, and four brothers, who will have the heartfelt sympathy of all in their sad hour of affliction. The funeral will take place on Tuesday afternoon at 2 o'clock from the house.



The funeral of William Gittins (ed.: brother of Judge Elmer Gittins) will take place tomorrow afternoon at 2:30 from the home of his mother, 1405 College avenue. The Knights of Templars will have charge of the funeral.

The Racine Journal-News
Racine, Wisconsin, Monday Afternoon, September 16, 1929

Judge E.E. Gittins Dies Here Today

Death Follows Stroke Sunday

Popular Jurist, Beloved Citizen, Will Be Missed In All Walks of Life

Born, Reared On Racine Co. Farm

Welfare of City Ever at Heart, His Services Were Invaluable

Judge Elmer E. Gittins, aged 49, judge of the Racine county and probate court, died at 12:30 o’clock this afternoon at St. Luke’s hospital to which place he was removed, following a stroke of paralysis at his home, 1405 College avenue, shortly before 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon.

Judge Gittins was one of the most popular jurists to hold that position of great trust and the news of his death as a shock to Racine professional, business, and industrial [illegible] and to the many widows and orphans who had learned first hand of the straightforwardness of his dealings in the handling of [illegible] their estates.

The Son of a Farmer

He was a native of Racine county. He was born a farmer and during his boyhood he added to the conduct of the farm of his father. He was the son of Ellis and Jane Gittins, residents of the town of Caledonia. He was born in that town Aug. 31 1869, and attended the rural school. Upon his graduation of the latter he entered Racine high school, from which he also graduated.

He won the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1895 upon his graduation from the University of Wisconsin and in 1897 he graduated from the law school of the university. Coming here in 1898, he entered a partnership with Judge E. Roy Burgess, of the municipal court, under the firm name of Gittins & Burgess. This partnership continued until Judge Burgess assumed the duties of the position he he now holds.

Mr. Gittins was a thorough student of the law. He delved deeply into his extended law library and became exceedingly well versed in all of its many branches. He was a common figure in the Racine county courts even in the early days of his professional life and he was elected district attorney of Racine county which position he held for six years. There were many serious criminal cases during his incumbency in the office of county prosecutor and he won a large share of them, retiring from that office with an enviable reputation.

Attorney for the City

His success as district attorney was for him the office of city attorney and for several years he acted as the city’s legal advisor.

Previous to his entry upon the latter position he served as a member of the fire and police commission and for one year he acted as president of that body.

His interest in public affairs did not end there, however, and he aspired to a judgeship. Running for the office of county judge he was elected and had held that post nearly four years.

Judge Gittins was one of Racine’s public spirited citizens. He extended his support, both moral and financial, to every activity which contained merit and which served toward the upbuilding of the city, of which was benefit to the needy. His advice, given to those whose interests were adjusted and settled in his court, was valuable in all instances and they learned to love and trust him their most personal matters.

Interested in Fraternities

Deceased was a member of several Masonic organizations, including the lodge, chapter, council and commandery, and he was a past master of Belle City lodge No. 18, F. & A. M. He also was a member of the Kymric club and the Racine County Bar association.

Surviving are two brothers, Ellis and John, both of this city, and one sister, Mrs. Williams, a resident of Chicago. The body was taken to the Thronson Funeral home and funeral arrangements will be announced later.


Ellen Roberta Patrick, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. E. E. Patrick, 1405 College avenue, will be arriving home soon for the holidays from Stephens college at Columbia, Mo.

Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Peterson, 1405 College avenue, a son, May 31, St. Mary's hospital.

The Altar


At a 9 o'clock nuptial mass Saturday in St. Mary's Church, Rev. John Stehling performed the marriage ceremony uniting Miss Patricia Margarette O'Connell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. P. J. O'Connell, 240 Jones St. and John Francis Conway, Attica, N. Y.

A wedding breakfast at the home of the bride's brother, 1405 College Ave., for the immediate families and close friends followed.

Escorted by her father, the bride appeared in a gown of French organdy over taffeta, carrying a shower of lilies of the valley. Her illusion veil fell from a Juliet cap of seed pearls.

Only attendant of the bride was her matron of honor, Mrs. Daniel F. Fromm, who was a room mate of the bride at Marquette University. Mrs. Fromm's gown of white organdy was worn over violet taffeta and caught with a violet sash. Her headpiece matched her bouquet of violet stock.

Daniel Fromm attended the bridegroom as best man, and guests were shown to their pews by Francis Landig of Menasha and John Magee of Brooklyn, N. Y. Soloist was Theodora McKennan who sang "Ave Maria" and "Panis Angelicus."

Mr. Conway and his bride will make their home in Cincinnati, Ohio, after his graduation from Marquette University June 11.

CORONER'S JURY in LaCrosse has absolved Raymond P. O'Connell, 43, of 1405 College Ave., of all blame in the traffic death Nov. 17 of Mrs. Patrick Decorah, 38, of Hunter's Bridge Indian Camp, near LaCrosse. Results of an autopsy, introduced as evidence, showed that the woman was intoxicated as she walked along Highway 35 toward her home.

Balance of power at the Richard P. McGuire home, 1405 College Ave., tipped in the favor of men when Timothy Michael was born making the family three sons and two daughters. Timothy's sisters are Susan and Frances, his brothers, Richard and Wayne. Mrs. McGuire is the former Ruth Thornton Everett. The five are grandchildren of Mrs. M. Wayne Everett of Racine and Mrs. Richard S. McGuire of Wisner, Neb.


For Sale--Real Estate


1405 College Ave.

4 Bedroom Home

Good Southeast Location Near Public and Parochial Schools.

First Floor: Entry Hall; Living Room with Natural Fireplace; Dining Room; Breakfast Room; New, Modern Kitchen with Dishwasher, Formica Counters, Insinkerator; New, Modern Powder Room, First Grade Carpeting in Living and Dining Room included in price.

Second Floor: 4 Bedrooms (12' x 12'; 12' x 12'; 10' x 11'; 9' x 9') with 4 large closets; Bath, Linen Closet; Airing Porch, Attic.

Basement: Laundry Room; Oil, Hot Air Furnace; Automatic Gas Hot Water Tank.

House Being Painted.


N. Christensen & Son
1354 State Street, Dial 2-5139

Evenings: Bernie LaMers, 3-6666; Don C. Jensen, 2-2454



Name Chairmen of Brotherhood

Serge E. Logan of 806 Lake Ave. has been appointed Racine County chairman for the 1962 Brotherhood Week observance Feb. 18-25.

His appointment and that of James E. O'Brien of 1405 College Ave. as co-chairmen were announced by Supreme Court Justice Harold E. Hallows, state chairmen.

The 29th observance is sponsored by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. Chairman for the district which includes Racine County is Alfred Buckman of 517 Melvin Ave.

Logan said that a Brotherhood Week committee will soon be named to work with churches, schools, religious and civic organizations in promoting Brotherhood programming.

Neighbors discuss hospital plans

Neighborhood people and others concerned about the proposed St. Luke's Hospital expansion will meet at Plymouth Congregational Church, 1143 College Ave., at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Purposes of the meeting are to gather facts, "see when we can have some input and try to decide what we can do," said Alan Wallace of 1405 College Ave., a spokesman for the group.

Some persons objected earlier to hospital proposals to clear the east side of Wisconsin Avenue between 13th and 14th streets to provide surface parking. The hospital owns about half of the 11 houses in the block.

And some residents have charged the hospital has unfairly pressured owners in efforts to buy up property. The hospital has also written the city requesting use its powers to provide adequate parking near the hospital and the request has been referred to the City Plan Commission.

Wallace said it appears hospital expansion plans were unclear or obscured in some efforts to gather information.

The hopital has announced plans for new construction and renovation expected to total about $15 million, included would be about $10.9 million for a new four-level building at the south of the present structure.

The Racine County Health Planning Committee is to meet at 7:30 p.m. tonight at the County Building at Ives Grove to review the proposal. The Comprehensive Health Planning Agency of Southeastern Wisconsin, which must approve plans if federal aid is to be obtained, is scheduled to take up the question Nov. 3.


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