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 Oct. 23, 2014
You've met Milwaukee Art Museum chef Micah Kaufman in the pages of OnMilwaukee.com before, talking about how he creates menus for specific exhibitions at the museum for Cafe Calatrava. In honor of Kaufman's promotion to executive chef, we asked him about his background, his work at Milwaukee Art Museum and how his role is evolving there.
Published Oct. 23, 2014
The high performing International Baccalaureate middle school program that MPS board members and administration has been promising for the former Malcolm X Academy, 2760 N. 1st St., is an existing program. The plan is to move Rufus King International Middle School, currently housed in the former McNair Elementary, at 4950 N. 24th St., in time for the start of the 2016 school year.
Published Oct. 22, 2014
Bavette la Boucherie's Karen Bell has teamed with former Colectivo director of coffee George Bregar to open Company Brewing in the Stonefly space at 735 E. Center St., in Riverwest.
Published Oct. 21, 2014
I've been watching with interest as New York rolls out its first phase of $340 million statewide universal early childhood education plan this autumn, and as Chicago debates how it will get its version off the ground next year. By watching others, we can see what works and what doesn't. We can learn the best ways to create and more smoothly implement universal pre-K that is effective and helps close the achievement gaps and boost the success of all children.
Published Oct. 20, 2014
Hip-hop trio Clipping is headed to Milwaukee as part of the tour for its latest record, "CLPPNG," out now on Sub Pop. The three -- Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Snipes and William Hutson -- will open for Busdriver on Thursday, Oct. 23 at the Cactus Club. In advance of the Milwaukee gig, we caught up with Snipes and Hutson, to ask about the new record and the whole idea of genres and the limitations they might impose from outside.
Published Oct. 20, 2014
This week, the Council of the Great City Schools hosts its 58th annual fall conference in Milwaukee, hosted by MPS, and some big names in the world of education and beyond will be on hand for the event, which runs Oct. 22-26. The conference -- "Fresh Water, Fresh Thinking in Urban Education" -- takes place at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center and will bring about 1,000 school superintendents to Milwaukee.
Published Oct. 18, 2014
It seems to always happen in a farm field. A kid sees the mother of God, a white buffalo is born, an astonishing cave full of prehistoric paintings is accidentally uncovered. That's where Wisconsin and the world stumbled upon one of the state's most stunning natural attractions, Cave of the Mounds, too, in 1939.
Published Oct. 17, 2014
This week, Karl Paloucek is one of a number of Milwaukee musicians taking part in Betty Blexrud-Strigens' Patti Smith tribute -- "Smith Uncovered" -- at Alverno College on Saturday, Oct. 18, at 8 p.m. He's also riding high after the release of his second record, "Sail," recorded over 20 years and issued by Brew City's Latest Flame imprint. As he preps his contribution to "Smith Uncovered," we asked Paloucek about "Sail" and what comes next.
Published Oct. 16, 2014
A locally produced book featuring the writings of local teens is certainly notable, but what's even more noteworthy about "Milwaukee: A Collection of Work by Local Teens," published in a small run by Hidden Color Press, is that it was also edited, designed and produced by an area teenager. Hidden Color Press is the work of 14-year-old Jack Hietpas, a student at St. Robert School in Shorewood. He started the press as a means to publish art and writing by area teens from all backgrounds.
Published Oct. 14, 2014
For a mere $40, you can get a silhouette of the Milwaukee skyline immortalized in wax. In PVC that is.