During the Civil War, Cold Spring Park was the site of Camp Washburn. The 2nd Calvary, 30th Infantry, and 29th Regiment were housed in the park and was one of three locations in Milwaukee chosen for military camps.
Before the neighborhood of Cold Spring Park was officially developed, the land between 27th and 35th Streets and Juneau and Vliet was one of the largest private parks on the West Side of Milwaukee. It was named Cold Spring Park and took up 16 city blocks – the perfect size for the sport of horse racing. Since 1884, trotters would run in the park and driving clubs would host meets. Visitors and drivers enjoyed the amenities of the Cold Spring House hotel before and during the races. The park was also large enough to host the Wisconsin State Agricultural Society’s second fair and exhibition.
Early city planning for a boulevard system called for neighborhoods that would connect major parks in Milwaukee. These roads were beautifully landscaped and included residential architecture. McKinley Boulevard was the second boulevard to be established in Milwaukee, at one point in time was one of the most distinguished addresses in the city, and made a wide path through the middle of Cold Spring Park – restricting busy traffic.
Once the land of Cold Spring Park was sold and divided into house lots, the area became mostly residential. Its homes are known for their high level of craftsmanship, with varying styles of Arts and Crafts, Colonial Revival, and Neoclassical. The neighborhood has a rich and variegated architectural character that pays homage to the upper-middle class in the 1900s who languished on grand porch fronts and backyards. Most of the homes were built as single-family or duplex homes, but many were later turned into multi-family homes.