BY DOUG SCHMIDT
Most Franklin, Greendale and Greenfield area residents have traveled along Highway 36, more commonly known as Loomis Road, but few know the origins of its name.
In the early 1800s, the southwestern portion of Milwaukee County was largely a frontier. As townships began to transform the landscape, a pony express route was established to transport mail from the south side of Milwaukee to far reaching towns such as Burlington, East Troy and Waterford.
The route dissected Franklin, which was established as a civil town on Dec. 20, 1839. Three years later, on April 5, 1842, Franklin’s first government meeting was held at the home of J.C. Loomis. Records indicate that 37 gentlemen attended as “voters,” including two other members of the Loomis family, H.W. and Jonathan. The influence of the Loomis clan at that those early meetings along Highway 36 inspired the naming of the trail after those founding fathers.
The mail carrier who galloped along that pony express trail on horseback was a Native American named White Dove. One of the postal stops was a block north of Rawson Avenue at the intersection of 76th Street and Loomis Road. It was the site of Hoppel’s Blacksmith Shop until 1928 when Ed and Marie Stremke bought the property and built one of Franklin’s earliest landmark taverns and dance halls. In tribute to the legendary mail carrier, they named their establishment the White Dove.
Through nearly five decades and several owners, the White Dove remained one of Franklin’s most popular gathering sites for dining, drinking, dancing and occasional eighth grade graduation ceremonies. Ultimately it was victimized by Franklin’s growth in the 1970s when it was demolished to widen of 76th Street and add a new southwest bound entrance ramp to Loomis Road.
Today the only business that can still trace its origins to Old Loomis Road is the Loomis Center Garage which was built in 1927 by Ervin Tretow and remains a third generation, family-run operation.