1405 College Avenue

1405 College Avenue, Racine, Wisconsin

I 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.

1405 College Ave., moving day, 1970

1405 College Ave., moving day, 1970

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.

View from my east-facing bedroom window, looking across the Von Germetens' yard

View from my east-facing bedroom window, looking across the Von Germetens’ yard

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.

Former garage of 1405 College when its property went all the way to 14th Street.

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.

Gittings and Burgess listing in 1902 business and professional directory

Gittings and Burgess listing in 1902 business and professional directory

Gittens & Burgess in 1919

Gittens & Burgess in 1919

Back of 1405 College Avenue


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 obituary, Racine Journal 1910 09 27

Sarah Jane Gittins obituary, Racine Journal 1910 09 27


9/24/1910 Sarah Jane Gittins (ed.: sister of Judge Elmer Gittins), one 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.

8/5/1914 FUNERAL 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.
Racine Journal News
September 9, 1915
John Gittings Has Narrow Escape at Interurban Crossing
While crossing the Chicago & Milwaukee Electric railway crossing at Twelfth street late this afternoon, a horse belonging to John Gittings, 1405 College avenue, was struck by an interurban car and instantly killed. Mr. Gittings was thrown from the rig but was only slightly bruised.
Racine Journal News
October 31, 1918
Announcement has been made of the marriage of Eleanor Williams, 1405 College avenue, daughter of the late Mr. and Mrs. Ellis Williams, North Wales, and David R. Thomas, 905 Villa street, son of the late Mr. and Mrs. Thomas of North Wales. The service was performed at 10 o’clock Saturday morning, Oct. 26, at the parsonage of Dr. Joseph Roberts, who officiated.The bride wore light gray crepe de chine and carried pink roses. Her sister, Ruth Williams, was the bridesmaid and was attired in gray silk and carried pink roses. John Owens, 905 Villa street, was the groomsman.In the evening there was a party in honor of the young couple. They will be at home after Nov. 4 at 1411 Villa street.
Racine Journal News
November 2, 1920
Seek Marriage Licenses
Application for marriage licenses has been made to County Clerk Basinger by Owen P. Jones, 1567 Packard avenue, and Elizabeth Hughes, 1405 College avenue.
City Attorney Better, Racine Journal News 1922 03 04

City Attorney Better, Racine Journal News 1922 03 04

Racine Journal News
February 20, 1923
Obituary – Peterson
Robert A. Peterson, son of Mr. and Mrs. P. F. Peterson, residing at 1405 College avenue, died this morning at St. Mary’s hospital. He was three years and six months of age. The body was taken to A. C. Hanson Funeral parlors, State street. The funeral will be held from the home, 1405 College avenue, the time to be announced later. Burial will be in Mound cemetery.
9/16/1929 The Racine Journal-News


E. E. Gittins

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. [ed.: If he was born in 1869, then he was 59 when he died.]

Racine Journal News
August 23, 1932
Miss Helen Green, a nurse at the Michael Reese hospital in Chicago, is spending a four weeks’ vacation at her home, 1405 College avenue. Next week Miss Green will have as house guests, two other nurses from the hospital, Miss Ann Reed of Chicago and Miss Anita Hart of Waukegan.
Racine Journal Times
April 21, 1934
For Rent — Houses, Flats, and Apartments
Fine 8 room home — excellent condition. 1405 College. M. C. Bias, 308-5th St. Prospect 1217.
Racine Journal Times
July 10, 1938
Mrs. Christine McGaughey, 69, 1405 College avenue, July 5.
Harry McGaughey, Nov. 14, 1935

Harry McGaughey, Nov. 14, 1935


1939 Racine City Directory: 1405 McGaughey Harry S
McGaughey Ethel M student r 1405 College
McGaughey Harry S (Ethel) sec-mgr W H Pugh Oil Co h1405 College av

12/18/1941 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.
6/1/1942 Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Peterson, 1405 College avenue, a son, May 31, St. Mary’s hospital.
6/6/1949 The Altar CONWAY-O’CONNELL 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.
1952 Racine City Directory
1405 College Ave, O’Connell Raymond
–Raymond (Mildred) ofc exec S C Johnson Co h1405 College av
11/25/1952 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.
2/22/1956 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.
10/21/1956 For Sale–Real Estate NEW LISTING 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.$15,500N. Christensen & Son
1354 State Street, Dial 2-5139Evenings: Bernie LaMers, 3-6666; Don C. Jensen, 2-2454DEPENDABLE REAL ESTATE AND INSURANCE SERVICE

Racine Journal Times, Aug. 20 1957, Serge Logan

Racine Journal Times


Back yard of 1405 College Avenue in the summer of 1959.

July 31, 1959
James O’Brien and family cook out in the back yard of 1405 College Avenue in a Progressive Milk advertisement.

11/28/1961 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.


That's us facing 1405 with our backs to Winslow School, Bill's Pet Shop, and our red Datsun

That’s us facing 1405 with our backs to Winslow School, Bill’s Pet Shop, and our red Datsun

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.

Photos by Jason Wallace of 1405 College during the 1970s and 1980s

1405 College hall to back door

1405 College attic playroom

1405 College looking from kitchen east to the nook

1405 College bowl of fruit in the nook

1405 College – Molly on the patio in the back yard

1405 College – Molly in her bed in the kitchen, Wallpaper is old recipes that my mother saved and put up

1405 College living room

1405 College – Jason at desk during high school

1405 College wild flower garden

1405 College – this garage used to belong to 1405 College but now belongs to 1401 College.

1405 College from the porch roof

1405 College – basement front room study area

1405 College bird cage. We always kept our parakeets in the upstairs bathroom because it was warm.

1405 College basement — the room with the laundry chute

1405 College basement work room. I still know where everything is in this photo — the tools in the boxes, the old radios in the cabinet, etc.

1405 (the red house) getting work done on its porch, Sept. 2013

1405 (the red house) getting work done on its porch, Sept. 2013



1405 College in the 1908 Sanborn maps. Here you can see that 1405 does not yet have its garage facing 14th Street.


1906 Racine City Directory
1906 Racine City Directory
Jason MacAlan Wallace, our grandfather David Rigall, and Todd Wallace, 1971. We are in the backyard of 1405 College Avenue looking north across our neighbors the Paurs (1401 College Ave.) and you can see the very large smokestack at St. Luke’s Hospital near the corner of 14th and College.
1951 4th of July parade going west on 14th Street. You can see the back of 1405 College. To find it, locate the tall smokestack at St. Luke’s Hospital, and that puts you on College Avenue. Go left across 14th Street and then 1405 is the second house from the corner. I think I can see a bird bath and maybe a grape arbor in the backyard of 1405.

14 thoughts on “1405 College Avenue

  1. No website but could connect through Facebook. You work with my former roommate, Becky Shoemaker. Born and raised in Racine, I moved to DC when done with a divorce and was out there for 25 years. Adopted a little boy and moved back here 20 years ago. Now living in my Grandparents house at 920 Blaine Avenue (West Racine and all the bakeries). Recently retired, I worked for 18+ years at Gateway Technical College in the IT Department. Taught Cisco networking, Web programming, IT general classes and databases. Just loved it. Please let me know if I can help you with anything.
    Jill Fall

  2. My mother’s father and his family lived in this house in the 1930s. Both he and his father were George Allen Green. His mother was Mabel and two sisters were Helen and Janet. I drove by the house the other day while in town from California. It is still a lovely home as are the apartments that my mother grew up in just across from Lake Michigan. Stunning to say the least!

  3. Interesting, I grew up one block Sound at 1505 College. I was 6 months old when we moved in in 1965. I went to Winslow for Kindergarten only, but probably walked past your house hundreds of times. Miss the old neighborhood from the 1970’s. The Family name is Curty (owned the house at 1505 between 1965 and 2005).


  4. my grandmother, Margaret O’Connell, & her daughter Patricia are the women mentioned in the 1949 wedding announcement . I remember Mrs Gittens
    Raymond O’Connell is my uncle.

    I believe that at some point Margaret lived in a two flat adjacent to the college ave home

  5. i believe the red brick house show. in the last photo was a 2 flat occupied by mrs gittens after her husband died & my grandmother, Margaret o’connell . Raymond & millie o’connell occupied. the 1405 home

    • I lived in the 1400 block of Wisconsin avenue I actually dated Laura springhorn I see the name was mentioned up above the last I knew she lived down south her dad lived in Bradenton Florida I’m sure he’s passed by now but I dated Laura about 1975 or so

  6. I loved going through these photos and comments recalling the years our family lived at 1405 College Ave. The photo of my daddy chinning himself along with our 2 sons playing on the swing set stirred some very precious memories. We loved that beautiful house, our neighbors and the brick street.

  7. The unexpected things you come across on the internet. Our family of 6 (parents Mark and Laurie Bullock and 3+ kids) bought 1405 College Ave. in 1988 from Maryann Wallace. We loved the 12 years we spent on College Ave.

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