Brownsville was founded around 1878. It originally had a canning factory at the corner of West Avenue and Main Street where Michels Corporation exists today. The village was first known as Thetis Station and had a narrow gauge railroad connection to Fond du Lac and Iron Ridge. The Lutheran church was located next to the cemetery.
Adjacent to the Brownsville Metrorail station is the construction of a new housing project, "Brownsville Transit Village." The project is composed of 5 mid-rise residential towers (467 apartments) with ground floor retail. The buildings are considered transit-oriented development, and are being designed around the metro station. The project is slated to be completed in late 2011.