It's in swanky new condos and historic old buildings, a focal point in both construction and renovation: Milwaukee's once-forgotten signature, Cream City brick, has made a comeback.

For decades, Cream City brick buildings were neglected, stained black from pollution and torn down with little regard. Today, prompted by developers inclined to work with old materials, Cream City brick is a prized find.

The overwhelming majority of old bricks have been lost through demolition, but those that remain are increasingly on display as developers seek to reduce waste and tie new projects in with the past.

Firms such as Continuum Architects and Planners have been working on renovation projects that include cleaning dingy old bricks.

And Zilber Ltd. has been transforming an old brewery into dorms featuring Cream City brick throughout.