Everyone has seen the Mackie Building, 235 E. Michigan St. It is hands-down one of Downtown Milwaukee’s most beautiful architectural and historical landmarks. And it’s equally stunning on the inside, being home to the Grain Exchange room.
In 1879, local baron Alexander Mitchell tapped prestigious local architect Edward Townsend Mix to design the building, which is adjacent to Mix and Mitchell’s 1876 Mitchell Building, as a home for the Chamber of Commerce.
Purchased a few years ago by developer and history lover Josh Jeffers, some of the building’s upper-level office space has been converted into apartments with incredible original 15-foot ceilings and maple floors.
Twenty-four of the 25 units have been rented. Folks doing the tour will get to see the last remaining vacant apartment.
You can see the lobby most anytime and the Grain Exchange room is also often visitable, but on Thursday, Nov. 16, Historic Milwaukee Inc. – whose store and HQ are located in the Mackie – hosts a tour of the usually inaccessible bell tower that sits perched atop the six-story building.
I did the climb myself recently and made this video:
Tickets for this rare climb are $50 for the public, $30 for HMI members and doors open at 6 p.m. with the tour kicking off a half-hour later. The event is a fundraiser for Historic Milwaukee.
Warnings: wear footwear suited to climbing stairs, and the bell tower – which is exposed to the elements – is not handicapped accessible.
Meet in the Historic Milwaukee store on the corner of Broadway and Michigan.
To make a reservation – spots are limited! – click here.
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.