One of Milwaukee’s most popular post World War II homes, thousands were built beginning around 1950. Cape Cods were the choice of many veterans returning home and settling down to raise a family. They only cost a little more than two bedroom ranch homes, the other popular affordably priced home being built at that time. You can see these two home styles side-by-side in 1950s neighborhoods throughout Milwaukee. Capes had the advantage of an expandable attic.

The orientation of the stairs relative to the roof ridge determined whether one or two bedrooms could be built on the second floor. You can often tell if an older Cape Cod has four bedrooms (or at least the potential of four) by where the back door is. If it’s on the side, most likely it will only have one bedroom on the second floor. If the back door is in the back, then you just might find two bedrooms upstairs. Many homes were expanded with a shed dormer so that bedrooms could have more area with full ceiling height. It was often also fairly easy to add a second bathroom upstairs by stacking it above the one on the first floor.

Cape Cods became less popular in the 1960s as three bedroom ranch homes and tri-levels gained in popularity. Just like ranches and colonials, cape cods grew in size since the 1970s. Why do they call it a 1-1/2 story, when the second floor is full height? The answer is that it’s not about the height of each story, it’s about the square footage of floor area. The second floor area of a Cape Cod is about ½ the area of the first floor.

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