Authentic Patriotism. Authentic Nationalism at the Soldiers Home.

Report on Riverwest Co-op August 21, 2006 Gathering to Save the Soldiers Home

Milwaukee Renew the Soldiers Home Project

Internet Empowerment for veterans and civilians at the Soldiers Home library?

Save the Soldiers Home With the Veterans in Community!

Why don’t we work to accomplish the following projects that will evolve into great institutions at the Soldiers Home, using some of Bill Strickland’s methods:

Work to find veterans making money, gaining skills, and healing in the following projects, which Milwaukee, the Great Lakes, and the Upper Midwest are quite capable of establishing:

  • City Farming and Community Food Systems for personal use and market sales

  • Restoration Trades training and development

  • Internet Empowerment for personal and business use

  • Intentional communities and co-housing development and support

  • Lifelong learning programs

  • People’s history and culture creation training and development

  • Wholistic health

  • Green Building Training and Development

Save the Soldiers Home with the veterans in community!

In the cause of peace,


Save the Soldiers Home in Tribute to Dr Martin Luther King and Dorothy Day, Eleanore Roosevelt and Nelson Mandela, Roberto Hernandez and Sojourner Truth


Soldiers Home Developments 2005

TIF for Soldiers Home Transformation Gives Citizens Great Opportunities for Innovations

In Saving the Soldiers Home, we will be, in large part, saving the most sacred grounds and buildings of our fair city. The Soldiers Home is where our elders are buried, who gave the last full measure of devotion, that this new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal, shall last…that government of the people, by the people, and for the people, shall not perish from the face of the earth.


Democracy is a new human invention. It has not been enjoyed for long by most of our citizens. It must be won anew each generation. Each presidency must be carefully checked by the voice of the sovereign of our nation…we citizens. We are not authentic citizens worthy of democratic rights if we do not preserve the hallowed burial grounds of those who died protecting our freedoms. It is our children’s birthright to witness the haunting beauty and glory of the Soldiers Home.


The “Journal’s” architectural historian, Whitney Gould, wrote a nice story on the endangered Soldiers Home. Click here to read it.

  • NAACPSoldiersHome/PhotosOfNAACPSaveTheSoldiersHomeMovementGrandAlliance
  • FirstOneHundredDollarInvestsmentInTheSoldiersHomeCoOp
  • LettersSentToSaveTheSoldiersHome
  • NAACPSoldiersHome/LetterReInviteToBarakObamaForKeynoteAddressAtNAACPSoldiersHomeTribute

This is the first of a few thousand e-mails I sent out to inspire awareness of the endangered Soldiers Home Historic Buildings and Grounds.

Sandy Folaron and Cleo Pruitt have given greatly of their time and spirits in this worthy cause, joining Laura Rinaldi and Patricia Lynch as the main heroes.

Attached are pictures of some of the post-Civil War buildings in danger of crass privatization or trivialization if we don’t creatively organize.

Please support H.R. 1762, a bill pending in the House of Representatives since April 2003. It seeks a one-time appropriation to be shared by 11 of the

VAs most prominent historic properties, including the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District. Public support and Congressional co-sponsors are needed to bring the bill out of committee for a vote.

The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance(MPA) and the National Trust for Historic Preservation are supporting this project.

We stand a good chance of saving one of 3 regional VA centers, perhaps turning it into a National Park. Along with one in Togas, Me., with l/2 building left, and one of Dayton, which has a couple of buildings left, after bulldozing a 3 story opera house of priceless art and architectural beauty, Milwaukee’s VA Center was created in the last official act performed by Abraham Lincoln. It is in danger of being commercialized and trivialized, e.g. the Chapel of the Walter Reed Hospital is now a condo!

This is a great opportunity for patriots of all party identities to let the families who have fought all of the wars, just and unjust alike know that we revere all of the soldiers’ sacrifices, from the dawn of the nation, on up to the tragedy of Iraq.

I have been invited to bid on the Chapel roof in return for leasing space in an abandoned civil war veterans hospital, which space I hope to open to Milwaukee’s creative class, knowledge workers, social enterprisers, artists, and public interest groups. Perhaps some of these wondrous buildings will become elder and/or youth hostels. Perhaps we will start a Guild Development Project, involving the training of our youth in the artisinal trades that will enable them to restore our architectural heritage. Maybe some of the buildings will become “enterprise centers” for small businesses and public interest groups with a social enterprise aspect.

If you know people who would like to explore the possibility of paying modest rent or even historic building restoration barter, pass this along. We hope to gather every Friday at noon to bring people into a widening circle to oppose privitization, but rather to creatively develop a huge Civil War Veterans hospital to be emptied July 1, and bulldozed over the decade if we don’t figure out adaptive re-use.

I am organizing Friday Noon and Sunday Noon Gatherings at the Soldier’s Home Chapel, to afford my friends the experience of this site, far more grand and moving than the Calatrava, perhaps equal to the Lake from the vantage of the Water Tower Park. But also I’m hoping to inspire creative responses to this endangered holy place.

Here is some more formal information. Please give a call at 232 1336.

Take I 94 to VA exit, near Miller Park. Follow signs up driveway.

For immediate release: April 16, 2004
(414) 427–3776
[email protected]

Discover a Local Architectural Treasure
Neighbors, Preservationists, Friends Rally to Save Soldiers Home Chapel

The Soldiers Home Chapel, constructed in 1889, has its roots in the spirit and determination of Civil War Soldiers. Its future is in the hands of men and women who understand the value of honoring their memory and preserving our common history.

Designated as one of the 2004 Seven to Save of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, the Chapel is one of the few remaining examples of the Queen Anne Victorian stick style structures in Milwaukee. Local preservationists, many seeing this elegant structure for the first time, are mobilizing to assist the Soldiers Home Foundation, Inc., in providing immediate repairs and planning for its future use. And local supporters such as the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, C.K. Pier Badger Camp #1 and Auxiliary #4, and the Fifth Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry have asked members to take up the cause.

One of the three original branches of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers established by President Lincoln just one month before his assassination, the Milwaukee Soldiers Home was a haven and true home for men struggling with the physical and emotional wounds of the Civil War. Their letters and stories reveal the importance of their faith during and following that great conflict. Although the main domiciliary (Old Main) had space designated as a chapel, the veterans wanted a separate structure ? their own church ? and paid for its construction from post funds, their meager pensions and small estates. It was one of the first multi-denominational churches in the state.

The Chapel served veterans and the greater Milwaukee community until its closure in 1996. It continues to suffer from a variety of factors including our Wisconsin weather. Since VA funds are dedicated to patient care, the VA Medical Center is unable to engage in the extensive restoration needed to bring it back to life, but may make emergency repairs.

In 1966 Congress passed the National Historic Preservation Act, mandating that Federal Agencies, including the VA, integrate preservation goals into mission activities. It acknowledged the Federal Governments responsibility to preserve historic national properties and, whenever possible, to seek compatible adaptive reuse. The American people, it states, are the true owners of Federal property.

H.R. 1762, a bill pending in the House of Representatives since April 2003, seeks a one-time appropriation to be shared by 11 of the VAs most prominent historic properties, including the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District. Public support and Congressional co-sponsors are needed to bring the bill out of committee for a vote.

The Chapel and the buildings of the Soldiers Home Historic District are deemed list-eligible on the National Register of Historic Places. The Ward Memorial Theater enjoys official Registry status. The Soldiers Home Foundation has submitted an application to the National Trust for Historic Preservation for its annual Eleven Most Endangered List. The announcement of this list is expected in mid-May 2004.

Several of the historic buildings, including the Chapel, will be open for tours during Reclaiming Our Heritage Multi-Era Encampment, June 5–6, 2004. A special Chapel service will be held for reenactors and event staff on Sunday, June 6, 2004.

Sponsored by the Soldiers Home Foundation and hosted by the staff of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, Reclaiming Our Heritage is a one-of-a-kind patriotic festival featuring a parade, concerts, tours, educational presentations, childrens activities and an encampment spanning colonial America through the present day. Event proceeds benefit the restoration of the Chapel and other buildings in the Soldiers Home Historic District.

For information, schedules and a map, visit or call (414) 389–4135.

Here’s a note on some “mass performance art” pertaining to our military history. Event organizers aspire to begin a more inclusive America in events like these. If you know of any minority groups that might wish to become part of these heritage celebrations, please ask them to call me at 232 1336.

Clear sailing,


VA Grounds: Reclaiming Our Heritage 2004 Encampment Event

Tentative Schedule for June 5–6, 2004
Reclaiming Our Heritage 2004 Multi-Era Encampment Event Tentative
Schedule of Events:

This is a free admission event. A commemorative booklet will be
available for sale at a cost of $5.00.

They are also trying to get a band that played at last years
event.They play 60′s, 70′s and 80′s music. I undertand they will be
playing on Saturday, but not sure of the time.

FRIDAY (JUNE 4, 2004)
8:00am - 1:00pm
Civil War School Day at Civil War camps. More.

9:00am - 10:00am
Greendale Civic Band (Main Tent)
10:30am - 11:30am
Our “Positively Patriotic Parade,” represents the past, present and
future of our nation.
12:00N - 12:30pm Presentations by dignitaries (Main Tent)
12:30pm - 1:00pm
“A Mother’s Child in the Civil War” by 29th USCT (Main Tent)
1:00pm - 1:45pm
Heritage Musick & Daunce Society (Main Tent)
1:30pm Civil War Skirmish followed by narrated medical care
2:15pm - 3:30pm
Fashion show with rollout of entire new line of period dress,
including exquisite reproduction of 19th century wedding gown from the
4:00pm - 5:30pm
First Brigade Band concert (Main Tent)
6:00pm Camps Close
Cemetery and Camp Tours, music in Heritage Cafe. Tickets required.
Speakers scheduled for Saturday to be announced.

SUNDAY (JUNE 6, 2004)
9:00am Reenactor Sunday Service in Chapel
10:00am Music by Regimental Volunteer Band - tentative (Main Tent)
11:00am Tram parade of WWII veterans as they arrive
12:00N Sunday Field Service with Rev. Norm Oswald, WWII area
1:00pm To Be Announced
1:00pm - 4:00pm Music of the WWII era by Nick Contorno orchestra (Main

1:30pm Civil War Skirmish narrated by Lance Herdegan followed by
narrated medical care

Speakers scheduled for Sunday to be announced.

Links concerning the VA Grounds/Soldiers Home-Historic/Pics
For tickets and info. on purchasing booklets go to:

For an interesting history of the V.A.
Grounds and their buildings got to:

Soldiers Home Foundation Brochure Link

After learning earlier this week that Representative Jerry Klezcka has signed on as a co-sponsor of H.R. 1762, we have been notified by a member of the Heritage Guard Preservation Society (Madison) that the Wisconsin Historical Society will announce late next week that the entire Soldiers Home District has been placed on its 10 Most Endangered List for 2004. Stay tuned for a press roll-out on May 7. We continue to wait for the announcement of the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List.

In the meantime, we’ll be celebrating Wisconsin Historic Preservation Week* (May 1–7) by cleaning the Ward Theater today (May 1) and the Chapel next Saturday (May 8). If you want to help and are not registered as a VA Volunteer, stop at Building 1 to fill out the necessary paperwork. If you are registered, stop by Building 1 to sign in and receive an assignment.

And please join Jim Godsil and friends as they meet for a “Chapel Witness” on Fridays and Sundays at noon.

We are still looking for an “in” (either by ticket or as participants in the opening ceremony) for the Brewers-Braves games on May 14 or 15. Want to join us in the stands with “Save the Soldiers Home” and “Reclaiming Our Heritage” signs? Period dress would make a splash. If need be, we can each buy bleacher tickets.

Last but not least, if you have time this weekend (May 1–2), stop at the Dunkel Dousman House in Brookfield (on Pilgrim Parkway between Bluemound and Gebhardt) for the Elmbrook Historical Society’s Civil War Weekend. Many of the reenacting groups who support our event are in attendance. The site contains several buildings on the National Register. See

  • Each May, Wisconsin celebrates Historic Preservation and Archaeology Week. During this week, many local regional events are planned to promote historic and prehistoric places for the purposes of instilling community pride, promoting heritage tourism and showcasing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation. See

Patricia A. Lynch
Harvest Graphics

Last edited by Olde.   Page last modified on March 14, 2007

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