Donna successfully nominated these nine places for historic protection, Donna’s “Babies,” as she warmly referred to them.
Here’s a nice tribute by Michael Horne.
And the “Journal.”
Three nominations that failed were for the Gordon Park Bath House (torn down), Biltmore Apartments on the Marquette Campus (torn down), and the Blatz Pavilion in Lincoln Park (still stands).
Say goodbye to the old Coast Guard station at Milwaukee’s lakefront. From 1915 until it was decommissioned, it launched countless rescues at the lakefront. Then, it stood in Prairie-style elegance, in silent testament to all that had happened before. In the end, no one rescued it.
Only one other Coast Guard station like it still stands in the entire world, according to Carlen Hatala of the city’s historic preservation staff. Milwaukee’s station is on the National Register of Historic Places, and received local historic designation in 2003. Various groups and individuals had ideas for the building’s reuse so recently as this fall, but no one came forward with money.
For about 30 years, the station was vacant and largely neglected. A fire, years ago, left a hole in the roof that reportedly wasn’t covered. Moisture put cracks in the stucco walls, and rusted metal beams. The roof of the boat-house portion of the building caved in. The 1915 wooden roof shingles are still in excellent condition, though, Paul Jakubovich, a city preservation staff member, said.
At the city’s January 14 Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) meeting, Milwaukee county parks director Sue Black said that the county has $80,000 in its budget to tear down the Coast Guard station, and wants to begin taking bids for the demolition. The county has budgeted additional amounts to rebuild the sea wall near it, and build an open-air pavilion where the station now stands, she said.
The HPC reluctantly agreed that the station is beyond feasible repair, but withheld approval for demolition until after it sees a design of the proposed pavilion. A special HPC meeting may be called for that purpose, rather than make the county wait until the HPC’s next regular meeting, in February.
There is “some impressive wood inside,” Jakubovich said. Commissioners said that some of the salvageable material could possibly be incorporated into the pavilion, and that that would need to be stipulated when the county advertises for bids for demolition. After bids are taken would be too late.
Commissioner Pat Balan was concerned that whatever replaces the station should have “permanent significance.” Alderman Bauman was “afraid of a low-budget pavilion” and “not sure the county will do justice to this site.” Of the imminent loss of the old Coast Guard Station, Commissioner Tim Stemper said, “It’s a shame.”
Also in January, the HPC approved National Historic Register nominations for the St. James Court Apartments, downtown at 831 W. Wisconsin Ave., and the Industrial Historic District at Florida & Third Streets on Milwaukee’s near South Side.
In December, the Brady Street-area home of a mason and three-term city alderman who died in 1912 was approved by the HPC for local historic designation. The nomination of the Francis Niezorawski Duplex, 1722–1724 N. Franklin Pl., grew out of neighbors’ concerns about the building, which has an absentee owner.
A theme of the November HPC meeting was buildings whose owners would welcome helpful intervention, such as a buyer.
The old Lohman Livery Barn at 804 W. Greenfield Ave., received an extension of its Mothball Certificate to December 2008 to allow more time for owner La Causa to repair or sell it. Charles Shudsen, legal counsel for La Causa, said he’s in charge of the effort to preserve the building. La Causa is open to selling it or possibly donating it to an arts group or similar group for storage. In the basement, the horses’ names are still on the stalls.
The HPC granted a three-month Mothball Certificate to a pre-Civil War era house at 1851 N. 2nd Street that needs repairs. The owner wants to sell the house. Built around 1858, it is in the Brewers Hill Historic District. The three months will expire about mid-February.
The last historic building on what was the Watertown Plank Road could be demolished in order to create eight parking places. The old house at 2841 N. Richardson Place in the Concordia Historic District is owned by Neighborhood House, a social service agency that also owns a nearby building. The agency applied for approval to demolish the building, but staff members John Zweifel and Don Schein were not adamant about the demolition or the need for more parking. The building needs repairs, but is in better condition than the 2nd Street house, Paul Jakubovich said. Commissioner Tim Stemper suggested advertising the building to see if anyone wanted to move it. The HPC voted to hold the item over for six months (until May).
HPC agenda items in August, September, and October included: electronic signage for the Pabst Brewery complex redevelopment; changes on Downer Ave.; and repair to the slate roof of the UWM-owned McLaren mansion, which is visible to boaters on Lake Michigan.
At the September meeting, William Krueger and Penny Anstey of SightLine, L.L.C., demonstrated 3-D laser scanning equipment that can document rooms or entire buildings for a variety of purposes. Commissioners commented that it could have been used to record Building #11 in the Pabst complex before it was torn down (in 2007).
Community News and Publications
East Side Alderman Mike D’Amato announced that he is not running for reelection. The field of candidates includes Nik Kovac, whose parents’ home is immediately next door to the parking garage that, despite considerable community protest, is being built on Downer Ave. Articles on Downer Ave. in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel included one on January 17, page 1B.
Whitney Gould, who wrote an “urban spaces” column for MJS, retired, and was appointed to the City Plan Commission.
In November, the Milwaukee County Historical Society published Milwaukee at Mid-Century, The Photographs of Lyle Oberwise. Historical pictures are usually in black-and-white, but we are lucky that Lyle Oberwise shot in color! Historian John Gurda discussed the book in a MJS article December 1.
A book of historical pictures of the Brady Street neighborhood, by Frank Alioto, is expected this month.
Citizen participation was welcomed for the Downtown Plan Update Kickoff on January 17. See www.mkedcd.org/planning/plans/downtown.
Topics related to urban planning will be the subject of lunchtime seminars at UWM. For announcements, email email@example.com or contact the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning.
Historic Milwaukee, Inc., plans local tours for February 9 and April 17. A Panel Discussion Series begins January 24. The topic for February 21 is “Historic Districts.” See www.historicmilwaukee.org or call (414) 277–7795.
Judith Simonsen, Bob Morgan
Lost in the last few months were Judith Simonsen, long-time head of the research library at the Milwaukee County Historical Society, and Robert Taylor Morgan. Mr. Morgan, 84, a retired city health inspector, volunteered at the Milwaukee County Museum, the Laubach Reading Center, Havenwood State Park, and the Friedens Food Pantry. He also lent support to at least one historic preservation effort.
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The Milwaukee Preservation worked small miracles in the historic preservation movement of Milwaukee
From about 2002 until our glorious blocking of the Pabst City plan,
Paving the way for the Zilber team to preserve and make history these past couple of years.
I received a warm thank-you letter from Joe Zilber for our work re the Pabst!
We played a huge role in mobilizing over 800 people to oppose the battleship at our lakefront!
A number of venerable and sacred buildings are saved for the generations
Because of the work of Donna Schlieman, the MPA, and others.
Donna, Jean Eske, Carlin, Paul, Sandy, Virginia, Geoff should be interviewed
To preserve these stories of grass roots success
Without much backing from the traditional upper class families
Normally key to preservation victories.
The MPA manifest the “creative working classes”
Making grass roots history and…a Milwaukee Renaissance!
What has happened to the MPA?
When was the last open meeting?
When is the next open meeting?
When will there be elections for officers?
We should we snatch defeat from the jaws of victory
When the city is increasingly poised to understand and support
The vision of the founders, heavy lifters, and detail angels of
The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance?
Were we to marry urban agriculture, working class internet empowerment, and historic preservation,
A new “Wisconsin Idea” would set the stage for transformative public policy
For self-reliance, community building, and sustainable development.
I would like to imagine some on-line conversation with a re-awakened MPA
Debating the incorporation of urban farming, internet empowerment and green development
Into the preservation movement.
Here is the campaign platform I would try to inspire some young people
Running for office at MPA to adopt:
The Mouse and the Worm Transformed Milwaukee
There was a time when everyday people
Were too disconnected to intensely engage and prevail
In turf and other struggles with the commercial classes.
But then the mouse of the internet connected them so well
That powerful visions spread like prairie fire
And quite “small” people became quite large
And began to prevail and save sacred buildings and sacred spaces
In the face of outraged opposition from the commercial classes.
There was also a time when everyday people
Were too disconnected from their ancestral power
To grow healthy and tasty food in their yards and ‘hoods.
But then the worms of Will Allen’s Growing Power
Were spread so widely to the four season kitchen and community
Gardens that Milwaukee awakened to the folly of reliance on
Food from distant places grown primarily for profit and often
With frightening disregard for health, safety, and evolution.
And 10,000 gardens blossomed in neighborhoods once written off
As ghetto and violent and ugly, and the people reconnected with
Nature, used waste products for radiant energy,
Became strong and sure enough to ask neighbors for favors
And found themselves walking the sidewalks and biking the streets
Past corner community gardens of beauty and conviviality.
The mouse helped connect people in the realm of mind.
The worms helped connect people in the realm of body.
The mouse and the worms helped connect people in the realm of …Soul!
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Pictures of MPA Ambassador Hotel Gathering
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
5:30 – 8:30
The Ambassador Hotel
2308 West Wisconsin Avenue
Join the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance in support of preservation in Milwaukee at the MPA Fall Quarterly Meeting
Celebrate historic preservation at Milwaukee’s newly restored Art Deco jewel ~ The Ambassador Hotel. Our keynote speaker will be Rick Wiegand, owner of the Ambassador Hotel, whose vision of restoring this 1927 grand hotel to its original prominence became reality.
Mr. Wiegand will speak on his ten year restoration process which resulted in the Ambassador Hotel becoming the historic gateway to downtown Milwaukee. A personal tour of the hotel will immediately follow.
The talk and tour will begin promptly at 6:00 followed by the formal Milwaukee Preservation Alliance membership meeting. Learn about another Milwaukee Lost Treasure, find out what’s on the Hot Plate, and get updated on the current happenings with your Milwaukee Preservation Alliance!
The MPA Board will provide appetizers for your enjoyment ~ or bring a dish to pass to your fellow preservationists!
Parking is free in the Ambassador Hotel parking lot, adjacent to the hotel.
Join us once again for an educational and uplifting evening
in the name of historic preservation in Milwaukee and bring a friend!
Brought to you again by the energetic and dedicated Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
Enhancing Milwaukee’s quality of life through Historic Preservation
Fellow members of MPA,
Last evenings meeting of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance was fascinating as we were brought up to date on historic happenings around our city.
Our first guest to speak was Gladys Bluemel of Bluemel’s Florist and Garden Center.
She received the dome, which formally topped South Division High School, as a birthday present from her son. The dome was preserved after the demolition of the school building. She stated it took several years for them to build a new structure for it to rest on. Secondary to the original clear glass
windows around the lower portion of the dome a previous owner had installed windows that feature a rose. She thought it advantageous to leave the rose windows as it now serves as a visible piece of architecture for their florist business.
The names which individual students had placed inside the dome are still present and they have a ladder for people to ascend to view them. Former students have been giving the Bluemel’s various artifacts that relate to the history of the school. These are also on view. Take a trip out to Bluemel’s Florist;
enjoy the dome and their florist products. Their address is 4930 W. Loomis Road,
Our favorite and most respected historian of the City of Milwaukee, John Gurda, gave us an informative history of the buildings of city hall which led up to and includes our present National Historic Trust building.
In earlier times city and county government were in the same building at Cathedral Sq. The building that we now recognize as city hall was completed in 1895 in the midst of a severe economic depression. The building cost a million dollars to build. 7 million bricks were used it its construction. It rests on 2,500 wooden supports in a swamp. Some of the wood came from former shooners. The wood has to be kept under water in order to be preserved. Lose of water occurred when the deep
tunnel was being built. Every room in city hall is an outside room with a view. It has an interior rotunda which reaches from the first floor to the ceiling of the building. This also led to persons committing suicide during the depression. In others words, they jumped. Netting was installed around the
rotunda and was in place until 1973.
This leads us to our next speaker, Kevin Donahue, an architect with the firm of Engberg Anderson.
The firm that has the $70 million dollar contract to
restore City Hall. Kevin is on the board of MPA. He led usthrough the peer review process; this led to elected officials seeing the necessity for the
renovation of the building and then requests for proposals for renovation. Bids for contracts and rewarding of the contract were done. From his power point description we had an up close and personal view of the building: its cooper dome,
clock tower, bricks, dormers, steel construction (which was used on the upper portion and had just come into use) and fanciful creatures which decorate the building and are different one from other. The building was constructed from the
inside out. Just the reverse of how it will be restored. Eight years into the use of the building the bell tower already had structural faults. In 1912 a restoration was performed on City Hall. Another took place in 1970s. Methods used at that time are now obsolete. New methods and material are being used
presently. The original brick, 1890s, are only available from one source in the America’s and that is in Canada. The terra cotta and decorative pieces are being copied and replaced on the facade. The work is being done in California.
The extensive scaffolding, which is attached to the building, is necessary because of high winds that occur. If it were not attached, scaffolding would extend far into the streets surrounding the building and streets would be closed.
Brick, which has support holes from the attached scaffolding, will be replaced and limestone holes will be filled. The renovation is expected to take up to three years. Kevin stressed that the renovation of the building does not mean
the end of taking care of it. The building will be inspected every four years and any additional wear and tear should be performed at that time. We invite all of you to come downtown and view the building as parts are removed and then replaced. You can imagine now what it looked like as it was going up and now in the process of coming down.
Persons present at the meeting where then treated to a surprise. We viewed a
CD on the planned uses for the former Pabst Brewery. The CD is narrated by
Mr. Mervis and points out each section of buildings and expected uses which are
available to buyers. The project has a new name, which is the Brewery
Neighborhood. It encompasses 20 plus acres, 26 buildings and a total of 1.3
million-sq. ft. of space. Development is divided into 7 sites. They are proposing
housing; retail, a parking structure, offices, hotel, a learning center and the
former church would be used for neighborhood activities. All buildings would be
abated and taken down to the basic shell, thus ready for buyers to complete the
interiors as they desire. As Mr. Mervis stated on the CD, The Old Becomes New.
A note, the Goll Mansion, 1550 Prospect Ave., which is threatened by
development at the site is now listed a one of 10 most endangered buildings by the
Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation,
Donna Schlieman, Secretary, MPA
These goals will be supported by community outreach efforts including advocacy campaigns, educational programs, and collaboration with other organizations working to preserve the city’s history and its cultural and architectural heritage. (adopted 6/03)
Subject: [MilwaukeePreservationAlliance] Communication to the membership of the MPA
Dear Members of MPA,
The fledgling organization that became the MPA began meeting regularly in January 2003 as a follow up to meetings with then-Mayor Norquist (“Muffins with the Mayor”) about preservation advocacy and in response to the staff cuts made to the city’s historic preservation section. It was determined that the time had come for a unified effort to educate and influence policy makers, developers and neighborhood groups on the benefits of preservation. MPA members tackled some meaty issues early on like the saving of the Manegold/Gramling House on Layton Boulevard, fighting the intrusion of Walgreen’s into two historic districts, getting the Avalon Theater locally designated, speaking to community groups and coming up with a Seven to Save list of endangered local buildings
Currently the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance board is involved in reexamining where the MPA has been in order to better understand our future. Through a strategic planning approach, your board is seeking to better define the MPA’s Mission Statement and goals, reconnect with and build a stronger support base, and develop a pro-active relationship with local politicians and policy makers, developers, neighborhood groups, and the business sector. As part of this effort to make a more effective and supportive MPA, we will be asking members to share their talents with the MPA, participate in committees, and volunteer their time. Specific developments and announcements are forthcoming in the near future. We hope you will join us in this renewed advocacy for the preservation of Milwaukee’s historic built and planned environment.
Your board has elected the following persons to serve for a six month period;
Virginia Cassel, President; Paul Demcak, Treasurer and Donna Schlieman as Secretary.
Each of the Board Members have written a piece about themselves in order for you, our membership, to know us better.
Virginia Cassel, current President and a founding member of MPA, has had a lifelong love of old buildings. From the century-old houses she lived in and helped restore while growing up, to her current projects which include the restoration of both a bungalow-style duplex in Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood and her own 103 year old home, she has learned that good design is timeless. Virginia acted with the Sherman Boulevard Task Force to prevent the demolition of the Finney Library which was to be replaced with a Walgreens Pharmacy. She has also been active in the effort to prevent demolition of a substantial number of buildings in the Pabst Brewery Complex and was instrumental in saving the Manegold/Gramling house on Layton Blvd. The descendants of the original owners of the home now live there and are restoring it.
Besides her historic preservation and restoration activities, Virginia is a doula and midwifery assistant, and is also in the process of starting a charter school in Milwaukee. She lives with her four children, a cat, a ferret and a handful of dwarf hamsters in Milwaukee’s Valley Park neighborhood.
My name is Paul Demcak. I’ve resided in Milwaukee since 1959, the same year I started kindergarten. As a resident for this duration, I’ve experience many changes. I accept that change is one of the few realities of life, but also that there is great value in preserving our visual link with our past.
My activism in preservation started with experiences struggling to save my house in Brewers Hill from demolition. Moving to the neighborhood in 1981, I was soon caught up in the energy with my neighbors in the effort to stabilize and promote the area.
I’m currently a returning, non-traditional student completing my undergraduate work at UW-Milwaukee. My life experience in preservation was put to use by majoring in Art History with an emphasis on architectural history. I completed two semesters for credit performing Internships with Milwaukee Historic Preservation Department. Exposure to research techniques during these studies made me aware of a passion for this because of the understandings gained in such work. I hope to gain acceptance to the Masters Program in Public History at UWM in the spring of 2007.
I’ve been a member of Milwaukee Preservation Alliance since its inception. It’s my hope that my experience as a long term resident with “hands-on” experience in preservation, city workings, and a passion for history will be valuable in aiding my fellow preservation members with ideas that will help us promote the importance of preservation in all aspects of the community’s well-being. Raising MPA’s profile through education about the value of built history including the economic advantages of this, should be key to gaining a higher profile and effectiveness.
Hello, I am Donna Schlieman, for as long as I can remember I have been interested in history, architecture and archeology. It must come naturally with my shirttail relationship to the explorer, Sir Francis Drake and the archeologist Heinrich Schliemann.
Growing up in a small town in central Illinois I followed a career path in nursing. After graduating from nursing school I moved to Milwaukee for my first job. Here I am, 45 years later, retired from nursing and pursing my interests by volunteering. I have served on the docent board of the Frederick Pabst Mansion. I volunteer there and lead group tours. I also served on the board of Preserve Our Parks. We were instrumental in preventing a war ship from being permanently docked at our lakefront. One of the major goals of POP is to monitor our park system and guard against any loss of parkland to developers. I am also a member of Historic Milwaukee and have been a member since its inception. I joined the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance shortly after it began and have been a board member ever since. In 2002 I received the Cream of the Cream City award as historic preservation activist of the year.
I closely monitor our historic buildings in Milwaukee and my goal is to prevent their destruction. I have been responsible for nominating over a dozen sites as historic. That includes one park, Kilbourn/Reservoir Park, which is located at the curve in North Ave. just west of Humboldt Blvd. The latest building I nominated, the Brown House, has just been approved as a historic site by the city’s Common Council. Along with a group of others we worked to prevent demolition of most of the buildings at the site of the former Pabst Brewery. We are hopeful of a better plan for the site which calls for saving more of the buildings.
I see the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance as a guardian of our historic past with its goal to assist neighborhood groups in preserving our city’s outstanding architecture and cultural heritage.
My name is Kevin Donahue, and I am a Milwaukee Preservation Alliance board member. Originally from Racine, Wisconsin, I received my professional B. Arch from the University of Minnesota, Mpls where I was part of the team that received an Honorable Mention for the Charles E. Peterson Prize for a HABS documentation of the Washburn Crosby ‘A’ Mill. Following my architectural internship and lincensure in Madison, Wisconsin, I received my post-professional M. Arch (Urban Design) from the University of Texas at Austin. As an architect with Engberg Anderson Design Partnership, Inc. I was the project architect for the restoration of the Ten Chimneys Estate in Genesee Depot, and I am currently involved in the exterior restoration of the Milwaukee City Hall. I am a member of the American Institute of Architects as well as the Congress for New Urbanism.
My name is Geoff Grohowski. I grew up in Milwaukee and have been most recently, a fifteen year resident of the Sherman Park neighborhood. I have a B.F.A. in Art from UWM but later found an affinity for architecture and old buildings. I have restored and enlarged (appropriately) an 1866 farm cottage near Plymouth, Wisconsin for my parents (not entirely complete, of course). I have spent other available time working my way through lists of tasks required by ownership of a 1923 (Leiser & Holst) Prairie/Craftsman style home on Sherman Boulevard..
I have been on the board of Sherman Park Community Association for possibly eight years, and active on the Housing Committee, and Chair of their Historic Council. I have worked with Historic Milwaukee Inc. on their “Preserve Milwaukee” workshops and helped organize tours in the Sherman Park area. I am likewise presently on the board of Neighbors United for Washington Park, as well as Milwaukee Preservation Alliance.
My activist preservation involvement’s have included: nomination and designation of Sherman Boulevard as a local historic district (1995) and National Register district (2002), local nomination of the Old Milwaukee Coast Guard Station, chairing of a task-force which prevented replacement of the Washington High School athletic field with fenced faculty parking, involvement in efforts to save the moderne gas station which became “Sherman Perk,” on Roosevelt Drive, acting chair of an effort which prevented Finney Library on Sherman Blvd. from being replaced by a Walgreens Pharmacy, and most recently as an active part of the effort to prevent substantial demolition of the Pabst Brewery for the “PabstCity,’ entertainment complex.
I am currently employed as Store Planner and CAD Draftsman at Kohl’s Corporate in Menomonee Falls.
My name is Annemarie Sawkins. I studied architectural history as a graduate student at McGill University in Montreal. Since getting my Ph.D., I have been as a curator of Marquette University and just last year started teaching in the history department. I have been involved with HMI as downtown guide and with MPA since its inception. I addition I give lectures to the public on historic stained glass windows of the churches in Milwaukee.
Gary Tipler lives in Madison, WI. He is quite active in preserving historic neighborhoods and districts in Madison. He is also versed in the city of Milwaukee, its history and historic sites.
Gary has written numerous articles and books on the history of city neighborhoods in Madison and places out in the country. He is an excellent photographer and his books feature his photography.
Hello. My name is Carlen Hatala and I am an advisor to the MPA board. I have worked in the field of Historic Preservation Planning with the City of Milwaukee for over 20 years. My background is in architectural history and grew out of a love for the historic buildings and house museums that my family visited while I was growing up in Detroit, Michigan. After completing my undergraduate work at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, which by the way is on the grounds of the beautiful Meadow Brook Hall estate of Mathilda Dodge Wilson, I came to Milwaukee in 1971 for graduate school. I was immediately impressed by how differently the architects here interpreted the architectural styles that I had become familiar with in the states east of Lake Michigan. Milwaukee is truly unique. My volunteer efforts have included serving on the boards of Historic Milwaukee, Inc., Friends of Calvary Cemetery Chapel, Story Hill Neighborhood Association, the American Heritage Society at the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Wisconsin Society of Architectural Historians of which I am currently president. I have lectured extensively and worked on publications about Milwaukee’s history and architecture.
Thank you to all the board members who assisted in this letter.
We look forward to learning about our ex-officio members in the next newsletter.
March 6, 2006
Our State’s Expert:
Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer
Wisconsin Historical Society
Visit our website at http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/h