Dear Folks,

Word has it, that around City Hall, signals which were quite recently yellow or red regarding a proposed Walgreens on National Avenue at 27th (National Liquor Bar block) have now all turned green.

Caution flags apparent earlier have been tossed aside. Pushing passed all obstacles, city guidelines for setbacks, variances for drive-throughs, Walgreens has now (I hear) received most favored nation status. Where’s the alderman?

Best, Geoff G.

I am informed that Walgreen’s has revived its plan to demolish the block
on the Southeast corner of 27th & National and build a new Walgreens
store. This block contains the National Liquor Bar as well as several
storefronts. Walgreens already has a store across the street which they
will vacate.

The previous plan was blocked by the then mayor and alderman (Norquist
& Murphy). Now that a new regime is in place, they are moving forward
once again.

Bob Bauman


The strategy may be simpler than just a new building.

Walgreens may be thinking if they do not take over that corner, Osco
will. If they own both corners, they will attempt to put restrictions on
the building they abandon.

Sentry attempted this very thing on 13th and Oklahoma.

Bill Sell

Dear All,

It would be a sacrilege to replace the iconic National Liquor Bar with yet another ugly Walgreens.

    * The CEOs of our great beer companies are predisposed to save this icon, the venerable National Liquor Bar.

    * The Human Resource and Public Relations Managers of the greatest Milwaukee industries, not just the breweries, want to keep Milwaukee interesting and unique for the new creative classes.

    * The nation will soon praise the pioneering work of Dr. Jill Florence Lackey, who knows how,,, sherman_blvd_task_force@yahoogroups.como set up neighborhood and culturally significant museums.

    * Heritage and cultural tourism promise to be a main growth industry for Historic Milwakee over the next decades, as witness the Lake Express Ferry. The professionals of this industry will help out as well.

    * The creative working classes of all our great identity groups who patronize our funky “working man’s country clubs”, i.e. neighborhood bars, would pass the hat around. The National Liquor Store Bar is part of Milwaukee’s “deep history.”

    * The Young Professionals of Milwaukee are looking to make some history and have some fun. Bring them into this grand alliance to save the National Liquor Bar! 

Save the National Liquor Bar!

Clear sailing,


Subject: RE: [bay_view_matters] Rally the Great Beer Industry of Milwaukee To Save the National Liquor Bar!
To: <>

        some of your crusades I have a problem of relating to or understanding however I knew that if I hung in there long enough we’d come to a common thread. 


As you will remember we saved the Pabst Mansion—a true historic gem—on
Wisconsin Av when it was about to go under the wrecking ball to be a
parking lot (!) for the Holiday Inn next door. (The irony is that this
Holiday Inn subsequently went under and had to be sold to Marquette as a
student dorm). Meanwhile the Pabst Mansion has added immeasurably to
Milwaukee’s architectural ‘memory’.

It’s all about raising public consciousness to the travesty about to
occur. There is a whole constituency of historic preservationists in
Milwaukee who should be alerted. Start with Herb and Liz Zien for he
knows the network well. And of course Jullily.

Doug Drake

Good luck. Jim
As a consolation prize, if the plans for the Walgreen’s advance, the city
has arranged to preserve the National Liquor Bottle neon sign and preserve
it at State Fair Park.

Virginia Cassel

<>, <>, <>, <>, <>

“‘Bob Greenstreet’” <>, <>, <>, <>, <>, “‘Rute, Chris’” <>, “‘Steve Fritsche’” <>, “‘Martin Collins’” <>, “‘Henry, Julietta’” <>, <>

If there is a group of people dedicated to working to preserve this block of
buildings, the MPA would be happy to facilitate this. Either Jim Godsil or
myself can set up the wiki, allowing us to collaboratively work on ideas and
strategies to save the National Liquor Bar. MPA members and non-members are
invited to join in. Pipe up if you’re interested!

Milwaukee Preservation Alliance

Patty Pritchard

I can give you an idea on how to save the NLB…go there and have a
drink! Part of the reason it’s on the chopping block is that it’s a
bar with not a lot of traffic, except for some of the wackiest
people you will ever see in public.

I ask you all…you want to save the place, but when was the last
time YOU went and had a festive beverage on 26th and National???
Have you been there lately??? It’s not the prettiest place in
town. I was there a few months ago, had a blast, but I was one of
maybe 7 people in the whole place, and it’s a big place.

From: “” <>
Subject: Rally the Great Beer Industry of Milwaukee To Save the National Liquor Bar!
Date: Wed, 08 Dec 2004 21:20:39 −0600

Dear Jim,

   First off I did meet with the GMCVB regarding the NAACP convention.  

There is a contact person who is working with the organization. His name is Robert Moore and can be reached at

   Some people who could help with the National Liquor Bar would be Jeff Platt and Cream City Suds along with The Museum of Beer and Brewing.

Jim Klisch

From: Dj Jones <>
Subject: [bay_view_matters] Last time I was at the National Liquor Bar

We always make a point to stop during baseball season, and when we want cheap burgers, and when we are taking our “tourist” friends there…

Last year my friend, who was on his way to San Diego (moving there) - promised one of the older Asian bartenders (she told us she was 72 - she has to be lying - she looks 42) that he would pick her up in the morning, as she lamented she wanted to go live by Shamu. We’ve have such good times in there. I think people are (wrongly) afraid of that area. It’s such a great bar and good time.

Maybe I’ll go tonight.

From: steve baltzell <>
Subject: Re: [bay_view_matters] Last time I was at the National Liquor Bar

The NALB brings back some memories. One of the first gin mills I was in in this city. I worked as a paramedic in the city and covered that area also. NALB was a popular location to respond to for us. Yes it has history and yes it has it’s draw, but be careful if you go down that way for a cold one. Because of its hours it attracts some shady characters and some serious alcoholics. Do I think it needs to be destroyed because of this? No. I still stop in there occasionally after Brewer games or if I just want to reminisce about my arrival here in the city. It really is a neat place and should be preserved as a landmark. If you get a chance, go, have fun but watch yourself and the one you’re with.

I’m voicing an opinion here, so bear with me.

Lately, a couple of properties/buildings have been on the radar, with demolition threats. Both of these could be considered historic properties, both have/are causing neighborhood problems. The first is the National Liquor Bar, the second is the apartment building just west of Greg Filardo’s old house (now owned by Jim Deiter).. The pattern I’m seeing, and the thing that’s troubling me, is the idea that the only way to get rid of a problem property is to tear it down.

I would like to argue (strongly) that this is very short-sighted thinking. First of all, is the problem the Building, or is it the Owner? Buildings, in and of themselves, cannot cause problems. *Mismanaged* buildings cause many problems. I would argue that both of these buildings are not the actual problem, but are a symptom of the problem, that being property owners not taking responsibility (for whatever reason!) for the actions taken on or around (when related) their properties.

Yes, tearing down the National Liquor Bar buildings would solve the problem of drunks hanging around. Would tearing down that apartment building solve solve Jim Deiter’s problems? Probably. But what are we losing? We would not only lose these “problems” (caused by mismanagement), we would erase an important part of Milwaukee history, a part that can never be replaced. Every time we knock down an old building we risk tearing the fabric of our heritage. My personal opinion is that we need to be MUCH more careful when deciding that demolition is the only (or even best) option.

Have you ever LOOKED at either of these buildings? I was trying to get a picture of the apartment building today, I ended up stuck in West Allis (how depressing!) until after dark.. I’ll try again tomorrow. I want you to see this building. It is beautiful! This is not one of those ‘70′s monstrosities! This is an art deco inspired apartment building, built in 1925, smack dab in the middle of the “roaring 20′s”! It’s assessed at $97,500, having 25 units according to the City. 2436 W. Kilbourn. Owned by: ANDRZEJ SITARSKI , 1740 LAKE SHORE RD, GRAFTON, WI 53024

National Liquor Bar info:
2003, won Urban Design award: “This year’s winners are wonderful examples of how important design can be to the urban fabric,” Norquist said. “All of this year’s winners have elements of urban design which add value to the city and make it an interesting place to live, work and play.”

National Liquor Bar
2601 W. National Avenue
Famous for being known as the largest bar in Milwaukee, the National Liquor Bar has remained an icon on National Avenue as a local meeting place for generations.

Owned by: ARTHUR SCHMIDMAN & CHARLES PLUS, TRUSTEES, 12620 N LAKE FOREST CT MEQUON, WI 53092. Assessed at $255,000 (up from $176,000 last year).

(are you seeing a pattern here? These people don’t live anywhere near the City of Milwaukee, not even in Milwaukee County. They have no vested interest in ensuring that these buildings contribute to the quality of life in Milwaukee.)

To further drive home my point, many of you living on the West Side of Milwaukee live/work in former drug/rooming houses, causing MUCH damage to the neighborhood. What would have happened if the city would have taken the same course of action I see advocated here and just torn down all of those houses? Would you have what you have today? Think about it….

Virginia Cassel
NOT spoken as a representative of MPA, just me….
This is oh so true. The problem is not the buildings but the owners. We need to show our support for the buildings—perhaps in a way that will become a media peg.

Hi Virginia,

Are the owners currently planning for demolition right now? And if
so, are the community orgs or CDC’s around the neighborhood fighting
against it?

It seems unreal to me that this could happen without some sort of
No, not on the apartment building, anyways. It’s the new next door neighbor who thinks it should be ripped down.

Re: National Liquor Bar - the building owners would be happy to let Walgreens rip them down, they’ll make a nice profit on the deal. Historic Layton Blvd. has been trying to keep tabs on it, but have recently been “shut out” of communication. There seems to be some interest in trying to save it, so MPA will be stepping in. Wanna help? ;)


Don Clabots

I agree that your efforts to save the National Liquor
Bar are good, but personally feel that this particular
operation is a sleeze pit and hangout for low-lifes
and alcoholics. Too bad the building can’t be used
for something a little more substantial.

Doug Drake

For what it’s worth, I understand that the Walgreen’s project has strong
support from Alderman Donovan and little organized neighborhood resistance.

Conventional wisdom is that the Common Council will approve it, despite the
vote against it on the Plan Commission.

Last edited by g.   Page last modified on December 12, 2004

Legal Information |  Designed and built by Emergency Digital. | Hosted by Steadfast Networks