Eastcastle Place in Milwaukee. Photo courtesy of Eastcastle Place.

Despite how commonplace they seem, modern senior living communities as we know them today still are a relatively new concept. At Eastcastle Place on the east side of Milwaukee, sights of the city’s history meld together with modern amenities and healthcare. The building recently was listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the secretary of the Department of the Interior. 

“We’ve been in operation since 1884, and I think that’s very significant, since we are nearly 140 years old and our mission has always been serving seniors,” Eastcastle Place executive director Tyler Gudex said. “There are not too many industries or businesses that have been stating the same goals and providing safe services Eastcastle Place has.” 

The community opened when a group of Milwaukee women, inspired by retired school teacher Elizabeth Trevor Thomas, sought to create a home where older adults could age comfortably. Designed by Milwaukee architects Henry Koch and Herman Esser in 1892, the original Victorian Gothic building was styled after the châteaus of 16th- and 17th-century France. It boasts original woodwork, Tiffany memorial stained glass, Cyril Colnik metalwork staircases, steeply pitched roofs and towers, long verandas and more. To meet the changing needs of older adults, the building includes considerable additions, expanding in 1962, the mid-1970s, 2000 and 2023.

For Gudex, the designation is merely icing on the cake. The real magic comes from the people who live and work inside the building every day. 

“This is a tremendous honor. I feel very fortunate to be able to come to work every single day and not only in a beautiful building but truly the people,” Gudex said. “That starts with the residents, but also we have an incredible and tremendous staff that support the residents, so I feel honored and very fortunate to be able to be a part of this.”

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