By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published May 30, 2023 at 4:27 PM

Just over a year ago, Pastor Lynne Hines-Levy welcomed me in to see the beautiful Summerfield United Methodist Church, 728 E. Juneau Ave., built in 1904, and to talk to me about its mission and its struggles.


You can read that Urban Spelunking story here.

While I was wowed by that work, especially a dedication to feeding the hungry, and by the gorgeous church sanctuary, I wrote at the time, “For folks who love Milwaukee’s historic architecture, this is an emergency situation, and one that is in no way limited to Summerfield.

“There are many, many beautiful, historic churches in this city, where our families have been baptized, confirmed, married, sent off to whatever comes next; where our families laughed, cried, prayed, socialized. And they edge closer to doom with each passing day. Every time it rains, a bit more plaster softens and will fall to the floor.”


Now, sadly, there will be one fewer historic church, as Summerfield will hold its final service at 9:30 a.m. on June 25 and the property listed for sale.

Thankfully, its meal program survives thans to another provider that has kindly stepped in to take over the work.

What will happen then with the building and site is anyone's guess at the moment.

According to City of Milwaukee data, the property has an assessed value of $300,000.

The building is listed on the state register of historic landmarks and is on the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Cass/Juneau Street Historic District.

On May 13, the pastor wrote, “Well, it's over. Tonight was the final meal at Summerfield United Methodist Church. Because they'd heard that we were closing, many of our old friends came in to say ‘goodbye.’


“Lots of hugs, lots of tears, but at 5:30 the doors were locked and the torch was passed to Pastor Sherry (Meeks) of Providers Help who has accepted the challenge of handling the only homeless feeding program in our area on Saturday evenings.”

Meeks is bringing meals to the church site and serving them from a van, according to the pastor, on Saturdays, from 3:30 until 5 p.m.

The church’s important records and other items are being dealt with in collaboration with the Wisconsin Conference of the United Methodist Church, according to Hines-Levy.

A former subsitute musician at the church, Mike Keegan, says that one of four pianos will likely be sold, but it’s unclear what will become of the other three and of the organ, though, he adds, someone has expressed interest in the latter.

Keegan plans to take some video of the organ and create a documentary about it to post to You Tube.

After the final service – after which there will be a reception – the congregation will clean out the building by the end of the month in preparation for listing it for sale.

I am hopeful that the building – one of two of similar design by Chicago-based Turnbull & Jones (the other is in Omaha) – will survive and be used either as a church or something else that would retain its beautiful exterior and interior.

“I, at this point, will still be serving at Cudahy,” said Hines-Levy, who is also pastor at Cudahy United Methodist, “but am still praying for the Cabinet to find me a second appointment.

“(A) wonderful ministry that will be taking over the Saturday meals on the grounds of Summerfield UMC. We were very worried that our downtown homeless would be left the when we closed down as ours was the only meal in the area on Saturdays. God sent us Pastor Sherry to fill the void.”

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.