The Dohmen Company Foundation has bought the former Fein Brothers building, 2007 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., and will move its headquarters to the Bronzeville site in 2021.
Before the move, the foundation will first renovate the roughly 34,000-square-foot building in what it calls, “back to its original beauty,” which is heartening.
"The façade, entry terrazzo and exquisite tile details will be preserved," Dohmen Company Foundation VP of Communications, Kyle Cherek, told me. "There is a huge drive to preserve as much of the architectural heritage of the building as accommodates the needs for the The Dohmen Company Foundation Headquarters."
Built in 1888 as part of the first Schuster’s department store location, the building suffered a fire and was rebuilt in 1892 with the help of architects Schnetzky and Liebert. Seven years later it was further expanded using plans drawn by Alexander C. Eschweiler.
It has a classic turn of the century department store layout with a grand staircase that connects three floors of showroom and storage space.
Fein Brothers moved to a new location up the street on Dec. 1, taking its landmark vertical sign with it. The kitchen supply retailer still owns the corner building, 2001 N. King Dr., which was the original Schuster’s Third Street location beginning in 1883.
“We will keep that building for storage and equipment,” Fein Brothers’ Jamie Little told me. “The doorways connecting the two buildings will be sealed off.”
In addition to housing the Dohmen Foundation offices, the building will also house its Food for Health program, which, according to a statement, “is designed to use medically tailored meals to reverse chronic disease, and is currently in beta with CommonGround Healthcare Cooperative.”
The foundation is currently headquartered at 215 N. Water St.
“This is the perfect location for us for many reasons,” said Dohmen President and Chief Operating Officer Kathy Koshgarian. “Dohmen has called Milwaukee home for the past 162 years, so we’rehonored to be able to preserve an iconic piece of Milwaukee’s rich architectural history and to become part of a vibrant community like Bronzeville.
“We’re also very much looking forward to collaborating with our new neighbors to realize our vision of healthy communities powered by healthy people.”
The Dohmen Company Foundation focuses on investments in healthy communities via community programs, programs delivered by partner organizations, and a portfolio of social businesses.
“Close to 80 percent of our $3.6 trillion annual healthcare spend in this country is spent treating chronic disease that is entirely preventable,” said Koshgarian, “and the trend line is going the wrong direction, withrising rates of diabetes, heart disease and obesity.
“We believe the way tocourse correct is to allocate more dollars to preventive interventions like food, rather thanallowing people to develop health problems requiring expensive medical treatment.”
In 2019, The Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation announced that they will renovate and occupy the second Schuster’s Third Street location (later a Gimbels), at 2153 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.
The four-story structure will house the new headquarters for the GMF and MCW’s community engagement programs. That project is in progress.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.