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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, Nov. 23, 2014

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21st Street School, razed in 1977, is one of the buildings featured in a new exhibit a Milwaukee' Central Library.
21st Street School, razed in 1977, is one of the buildings featured in a new exhibit a Milwaukee' Central Library.

Library explores Milwaukee's historic schoolhouses with exhibit and panel

I'm honored to work with the good folks at Milwaukee Public Library's Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., on a small exhibit and panel discussion that look into Milwaukee's historic public schoolhouses.

In recent weeks, I teamed with librarians in the library's Art, Music & Recreation and Frank P. Zeidler Humanities Room -- as well as with staff from the Wisconsin Architectural Archive housed at Central -- to put together a small look at some of the schools that have meant so much to so many Milwaukeeans.

There are original architectural drawings and vintage photographs of five schools: 21st Street School (razed), Walnut Street School (razed), McKinley School (vacant), Maryland Avenue School (still in use) and the old Gaenslen School building (razed).

These can be seen in glass cases in the main corridor outside the Zeidler Room on the second floor of the Central Library from today until Dec. 18.

A related event, "Milwaukee Public School Buildings: Past, Present & Future, A Discussion," is a panel discussion slated for Monday, Dec. 8 from 6:30 until 8 p.m. in the Loos Room in Centennial Hall, 733 N. 8th St. Admission is free and all are invited.

We've tapped veteran education reporter Alan Borsuk -- who is now Senior Fellow in Law and Public Policy at Marquette University Law School -- to moderate the discussion about the history of Milwaukee's vintage schoolhouses, their architectural significance, their ongoing educational efficacy, efforts to landmark and preserve some of them and more.

The panel consists of District 4 Ald. Robert Bauman, who was recently a key figure in the city's historic designation of McKinley School, Historic Milwaukee Inc. director Stacy Swadish, MPS' Director of Facilities and Maintenance Gina Spang

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Students at MPS' Anna M. Doerfler School working on an art project.
Students at MPS' Anna M. Doerfler School working on an art project.
The students work at the intersection of 30th and Scott Streets on Milwaukee's South Side.
The students work at the intersection of 30th and Scott Streets on Milwaukee's South Side.

Art project teaches Doerfler students about advocacy and community engagement

Today, I got an email from my friends at Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.) about a project the group did this autumn with kids at MPS' South Side Anna F. Doerfler Community School in conjunction with Layton Boulevard West Neighbors (LBWN) and the COA CLC program.

They worked together to create a public art installation alongside A.W.E. artists John Kowalczyk and Diego Heredia.

I was happy to see that the students are working with Ald. Bob Donovan to get some community input for the project.

Here's what A.W.E. Executive DirecorBeth Haskovec wrote:

"Ten seventh and eighth grade students from COA Youth and Family Center’s CLC program have been working with Kowalczyk and Heredia to envision an intersection mural to be installed at 30th and Scott. The installation would beautify the neighborhood and build youth visibility and leadership.

This project exemplifies what A.W.E. is all about- pairing young people with professional artists to collaborate and design something for their own neighborhood.

"The A.W.E. art installation in the Silver City neighborhood fulfills two key components of our neighborhood Quality of Life Plan, namely Neighborhood Appearance and Youth Education and Leadership," said Dan Adams, Layton Boulevard West Neighbors Neighborhood Plan Coordinator. "With 33 percent of the population under the age of 18, we are excited to see local youth collaborating on this public art installation that will build on our recent successful efforts to make Layton Boulevard West a destination for the arts."

The students wrote to Donovan to explain the project and its goals.

"We spent a month working and learning about public art," they wrote. "We would like to accomplish what we have started. We are not just doing art. We are doing feelings! It expresses what the neighborhood can do ... we are making history."

This week, the students are going door to door to talk to neighbors about their proposal and the alderman's office is sending info…

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I wouldn't have believed you could have a Milwaukee without Radio Doctors, but here you go.
I wouldn't have believed you could have a Milwaukee without Radio Doctors, but here you go.

6 Milwaukee record shops I miss

I’ve been a record store rat since I was about 9 (no, I won’t tell you how many years ago that was), but I’ve whiled away countless hours in the dens of wonder, from sea to shining sea and even beyond.

Luckily, there are still some great record shops in town, but not nearly as many as there used to be. Here are six lost Milwaukee places that I wish were still here (in no particular order)...

Tropical Records

In addition to his "Jamaican Winds" radio show on WLUM-FM, Nigel Scott ran this Caribbean vinyl emporium on 27th and Wells. When I arrived here, I’d walk across the 27th Street viaduct in the snow to get there. If I eschewed the bus, I could afford another gem from Nigel’s timeless stash of great 45s, LPs and 12"s. Like any self-respecting reggae shop, the records were alphabetized by first name.

When he shuttered the shop, he’d still invite me over to his northwest side house to cherry pick stock. Nigel was a gem and I miss his shop as much for him as for the records I got there.

Atomic/Ludwig Van Ear 

What to say about Atomic and its predecessor? Rich Menning had what has to be Milwaukee’s most landmark-worth record store, after, maybe, Radio Doctors. What he didn’t stock -- which wasn’t much in the world of alternative and punk rock records -- he’d order. In addition to stocking and supporting local bands -- and hosting in-store performances -- he hired knowledgeable staff, who were often local musicians. Also like Radio Doctors, it seemed like a place that would never go away.

Audie’s/Audio Vibe

When I was devouring hip-hop and club records in the second half of the 1980s, Audie’s on 23rd and Capitol (first on the south side of Capitol and later across the drive) had it all. I dropped more coin there than I probably should have.

Mean Mountain Music

For a while I had an unquenchable thirst for vintage R&B, especially the great 45s that flowed from Detroit in the 1960s and early ‘70s via Groovesville, Ric-Tic, Golden World, W…

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Milwaukee's West Side High School, later West Division, was replaced in the 1950s with the building that is now home to Milwaukee High School of the Arts.
Milwaukee's West Side High School, later West Division, was replaced in the 1950s with the building that is now home to Milwaukee High School of the Arts.

A peek inside an 1890's Milwaukee high school

When Milwaukee's West Side High School graduated its first class in 1898, it published "Hesper," its yearbook. A copy of the book is preserved in the stellar local history collections at Milwaukee Public Library and it opens a window into one of Milwaukee's earliest high schools.

The book has images of all the graduation seniors as well as a wide variety of clubs. There are also photos of the interior of the building, offering a rare peek inside a 19th century Milwaukee schoolhouse. While a fair amount of exterior photos and drawings survive of old schools, pictures of the inside spaces are harder to come by.

West High School (later West Division) began in 1895 and was housed in the Plankinton Library Block on Grand Avenue while a permanent home was constructed on 22nd and Prairie (now Highland), at a cost of $80,000.

The building drew acclaim for its stately neoclassical design, with one newspaper writing, "there is no great amount of gingerbread work, but the harmony of the lines and angles  relieve it from plainness and make it a work of architectural art."

Spencer Tracy and Gen. Douglas MacArthur went to school in the building, which was demolished in 1951 and replaced within a few years with the current building, which became Milwaukee High School of the Arts in 1984.

Here are a few of the then-brand new building, designed by Herman P. Schnetzky and Eugene Liebert, with the latter typically receiving credit for the school's appearance.

"A work of architectural art."

Handsome from this angle, too

The office

The assembly hall with the teacher's desk on the rostrum

The drawing room

The gymnasium

A very rare photo of the boiler and its operator

A (hopefully) light-hearted page

The descriptions of the female third-year students on this page are mostly harsh -- and they get harsher as toward the bottom of the page. But, hopefully, they are in jest. Surely, future MPS assistant superintendent Dorothy Enderis -- who has a park, neighborho…

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