My first introduction to Milwaukee when I arrived in 1983 was Bern Boys, a warehouse above a retail shop that was a kind of hive of varied artistic endeavors. Bands practiced there, artists painted there, poets pecked at typewriters there, photographers shot artistic portraits there.
Other buildings around town across the decades have been similarly fertile. One thinks of the old Virginia Street tanneries that were home at one time to Paul Cebar’s rehearsal space, the work spaces where the Colectivo partners and BelAir/Fink’s/Fuel co-founder Scott Johnson, among others, got started. Borrowing Cebar's space, we'd walk past the tanning operations, which continued on the floors below.
Today, Lincoln Warehouse on the western edge of Bay View at 2018 S. 1st St. not only carries on this tradition, but also expands on it by embracing retail.
The complex of buildings is home to brewers like Enlightened, distillers like Twisted Path, Bittercube bitters and Dock 19 Cocktail Lab, hair salons, recording studios like Howl Street, online retailers, artists of all stripes – including Sarah Boardman-Miller, Allison B. Cooke, puppeteer Arcadia Productions, jewelry maker Britkali and Oracle Glass Arts – a training gym and a warehouse spa.
A cafe is being constructed on the first floor at the corner of Becher Street (see photo above), next to the future tasting room and brewery for Enlightened Brewing, which currently occupies a tiny space upstairs.
This part of the building – facing Becher – is the oldest part, according to broker Andy Bandy, who has other clients too but spends a lot of his time here at Lincoln Warehouse, where you can tell he feeds off the creative energy.
Bandy often builds spaces to suit, so there is a variety of sizes and shapes available. Some offer long stretches of windows, others have few or none – which suits certain types of operations, like recording studios and warehouse tenants.
In the corridors, Bandy and his team have repurposed wood to create decorative elements. On one floor there’s an expansive mural depicting the Hoan Bridge.
The place has a modern feel, while maintaining the building’s industrial past. In coming months, Bandy says the exterior will get a touch-up and seal to keep the elements at bay, and the first floor, facing 1st Street, will see some changes, including a handicapped-accessible ramp, the replacement of moribund loading dock doors with windows, that cafe and brewery tasting room (pictured here below) and more.
While the larger addition to the north dates to 1928, Bandy says this part was built earlier as the bakery operations for the A&P grocery chain. He’s not sure when, but a peek at the 1910 Sanborn map (below) shows the land as undeveloped, so likely sometime between those two dates. Later Huffy, the bicycle and sporting goods manufacturer, made bike parts, basketball backboards and other products here.
"Part of my spiel when I'm showing places is ‘the best thing we have going here is our tenancy because everybody here is just so diverse"," Bandy says. "We're putting a lot of effort into making this a nice professional place where you can have this mix of people.
"This is kind of where we're headed with things. I love what I do."
You can see the place – which overlooks a marina, the train tracks and the former Horny Goat Hideaway, and offers views of Bay View Terrace, the Allen-Bradley clock tower, St. Stanislaus’ double steeples, as well as the Downtown skyline – on Thursday, June 2 when Lincoln Warehouse swings open its doors for an open house.
Here’s a video created for the event, which starts at 3 p.m. and is open to all:
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 can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.