Repairs will finally begin on a number of historic buildings on the sprawling grounds of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home Historic District -- which I featured in a spelunking story last year -- The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) announced today.
Milwaukee VA Medical Center (VAMC) will soon begin work on Henry Koch's gorgeous 1881 Ward Theater (Building 41), the Old Hospital Building (Building 6) and the Barracks Buildings (Buildings 5 and 7).
The entire complex has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
"These repairs are much-needed improvements in the district and demonstrate important progress," said Genell Scheurell, senior field officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, in a statement.
"We also look forward to continuing to work with the VA to address the critical need for a long-term solution that will return the district’s vacant buildings to the service of veterans."
Unfortunately, repairs on three of the site's most recognizable buildings, Edward Townsend Mix's towering 1869 Old Main (Building 2) -- which is easily spotted from I-94 and from Miller Park -- the Power Plant (Building 45) and Koch's shingle-style 1889 non-denominational chapel (Building 12) remain on deferment as funds for the necessary fixes are sought.
These structures are in urgent need of repairs. For example, a major roof collapse at Old Main that led to the vacating of the building was fixed two years ago, but other remaining gaps are allowing nature to do further damage.
Fences continue to surround Old Main and the chapel, which on the outside at least, appears to be in fairly rough shape.
"Over the past few years, the VA has made great strides toward making changes that will positively impact the future of the Soldiers Home District," said Scheurell. "However, the sense of urgency remains. The VA must receive the necessary funding to protect this National Historic Landmark District."
Meanwhile, the vacant Ward Theater will get a new roof and repairs to its wooden porch and exterior masonry.
The Old Hospital -- built in 1879 and later used as a barracks and currently housing VA offices -- will be re-roofed, its wood re-painted, and windows and doors repaired.
Also of note is the fact that the building's distinctive brick chimney will be rebuilt and decorative wrought-iron cresting repaired and, as necessary, replaced with newly fabricated parts.
The Barracks Buildings will be tuckpointed and painted, its gutters and downspouts repaired, its extensive porches repaired and painted, and shingles replaced as needed. These buildings, too, house VA offices.
"We are excited about the work being done on many of the District’s buildings," said Dawn McCarthy, president of the MPA Board of Directors. "Visitors will see a noticeable difference in the appearance of some of these historic buildings."
Info on a free downloadable walking tour of the site is here.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Bobby Tanzilo
Published Aug. 4, 2015
Just a few months after frontman Scott Wooldridge issued his solo debut, his fraternal band, The Wooldridge Brothers, has a new blue vinyl 7" 45 out and is embarking on a mini tour of Wisconsin.
Published July 31, 2015
Last week, I got a message from Paul Walter, a co-facilitator at the Slinger Authors' Camp, a youth program that's part of the Fox Valley Writing Project (which is, in turn, affiliated with the National Writing Project). The 17 kids in the program are suburban spelunking in their town.
Published July 30, 2015
There's no need to massage the statistics: men are hitting spas across the country - and right here in Milwaukee - in bigger numbers than ever before.
Published July 28, 2015
Some details of the plan for the new development in the trio of National Ace Hardware buildings on 4th and McKinley have emerged, right as plans for a new arena and entertainment district across the street have taken steps forward.
Published July 25, 2015
One of the Milwaukee area's most interesting parks is a bit off the beaten path, but it's worth making tracks to Lizard Mound County Park in Farmington, just north of West Bend in Washington County. A wooded path twists and turns through 28 Native American effigy mounds, including the one shaped like a huge lizard which gives the park its name.
Published July 24, 2015
Green Lake is a place of superlatives. Here are eight of the many reasons to fall in love with Green Lake, which is an easy 90-minute drive from Milwaukee.
Published July 24, 2015
What a long strange trip it was. While theaters like the Downer and Oriental have venerable histories as long-running cinema houses, consider, if you will, the the more varied history of the now-dilapidated State Theater, 2616 W. State St. Originally a movie theater, the State has served a number of purposes - rock venue, prudish dance hall and strip club - in its nearly 100-year history.
Published July 22, 2015
There were about 500 people on hand to watch U2 at The Palms on April 15, 1981. The show was part of the Irish band's first U.S. tour. Here's a look back...
Published July 21, 2015
Come with me to see the progress on the restoration of The Pabst Mansion's third floor and also peek into the basement and attic, and experience the view from the roof of this Milwaukee landmark.
Published July 17, 2015
Milwaukee neighborhoods were once awash in movie theaters, as hard as that may be to imagine these days when you can count the number of non-googleplex cinemas in the city limits on one hand. While many are lost, a few remain. At 3804 W. Vliet St. is a former longtime carpet store that's been closed the past few years. But, originally, the building was home to The Lyric Theater, which operated from 1917 to 1952.