By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 31, 2022 at 11:00 AM

Crews will begin planting 24 honey locust trees Tuesday morning as part of the exterior renovations on the Downtown campus of the Marcus Performing Arts Center, 929 N. Water St.

The mature trees will run along the north and south edges of the at-grade lawn that was created after the 2019 removal of the Dan Kiley-designed sunken chestnut grove on the south side of the Marcus Center, in front of the Peck Pavilion.


The Marcus Center’s master plan was released in 2018, announcing interior and exterior renovations.

“Our vision for the grounds is to foster an accessible public gathering space for the community to engage with the performing arts both within the Center and beyond it,” said Marcus Performing Arts Center President and CEO Kendra Whitlock Ingram in a statement.

“We’re proud to be a champion of the city’s rich performing arts culture, and we’re looking forward to welcoming everyone to an improved communal space to enjoy and experience performances, events and more.”

In addition to enhancing ADA access to the site, the new campus landscaping plan will include new light fixtures for enhanced illumination, the installation of a native rain perennials garden to provide bio-filtration and stormwater absorption, more greenery and moving the War Memorial to a more prominent site on the southeast corner of the campus.


The Marcus Center worked with HGA architects, CG Schmidt Inc. and Schuler Shook Theater Consultants on the plan, utilizing input from patrons, vendors, resident performing arts groups and community members.

chestnut grove
The former chestnut grove. (PHOTO: City of Milwaukee)

Some voiced opposition to the removal of the chestnut grove, which received temporary historic designation from the city so that the issue could be debated. However, the Common Council declined to make that designation permanent and the trees were eventually removed in September 2020.

Last year, the Marcus Center upgraded its main venue, Uihlein Hall, with new seating, the addition of much-needed extra aisles, HVAC equipment and more.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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.