A few dozen community members showed up to see, and comment on, the latest designs for a new Mitchell Street library branch.
A few dozen community members showed up to see, and comment on, the latest designs for a new Mitchell Street library branch. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Library)

MPL's Mitchell St. meeting draws input from about 50 community members

On Wednesday evening, Milwaukee Public Library hosted a community meeting at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, on Mitchell Street, about a new branch nearby in the former Hills Building at 906-910 W. Mitchell St.

According to MPL’s Sam McGovern-Rowen, about 50 people attended the meeting, including neighborhood alderman Jose Perez and Wisconsin Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa, to hear from library administration – represented by MPL Director Paula Kiely – and representatives of HGA, architects for the project.

The new library would replace the Forest Home Avenue branch, a few blocks west, which opened in 1966.

HGA shared its initial designs and offered an overview of the 22,500-square foot library project, reminding those in attendance that the designs incorporated public input from previous community listening sessions.

"The design was very well received by the audience," said McGovern-Rowen, "so much so that one questioner wondered out loud if the lower level flexible space could be rented out for birthday parties."

After a Q&A session, community members were encouraged to add comments directly onto the images by pasting Post-It notes to copies of the drawings posted on boards.

"I think I can speak for my colleagues at MPL that we are very excited about the design presented by HGA," McGovern-Rowen said Thursday. "They set out to preserve and highlight the historic features of the building while updating the space to accommodate a 21st century, high-tech and flexible library space. I think the design successfully achieves those goals.

"Fitting a library into an existing historic space is a challenge for the architect and our internal design work group. Those challenges presented unique opportunities for the design and programming of the space. For example, the lower level of this library is going to be home to a flexible room that could have a variety of maker space functions – kitchen, video editing, sound recording, etc.

"Another example is…

Ben Tyjeski's terra cotta walking tour kicks off at Maryland Avenue Montessori School on Sunday at 11 a.m.
Ben Tyjeski's terra cotta walking tour kicks off at Maryland Avenue Montessori School on Sunday at 11 a.m.

Tyjeski's walking tour takes in East Side terra cotta

Walker’s Point-based ceramics sculptor, teacher and architectural historian Ben Tyjeski is also a leader of walking tours around town; ones that focus on the city’s terra cotta, the subject of a book he’s working to get published.

"Milwaukee Terra Cotta: 1881-1934" examines, in his words, "50 years of decorative clay sculpture on buildings in Milwaukee County" and I, for one, can’t wait to see it.

You can help Tyjeski get closer to making the book a reality by participating in one of his tours and paying what you can as a donation toward the publication of the book.

Although you missed his "White Terra-Cotta District" tour in Westown last month, this weekend he’s leading a tour of the East Side, which begins at 11 a.m. on Sunday, July 24 and lasts for about an hour.

He’ll cover just under two miles, starting at the west entrance of Maryland Avenue Montessori School, 2418 N. Maryland Ave., where he’ll surely discuss the three Queen Anne panels on the 1893 Schnetzky and Liebert addition to the school – and perhaps the carved motifs at the west entrance (which may actually be carved stone) – before perhaps turning around to talk about the tiles embedded in the facade of the Korsch Moving and Storage building across the street.

I bet he’ll also discuss the Clocktower building on Prospect and North, as well as the gorgeous Tullgren buildings a couple blocks south.

His description of the tour says, "​To hear about fairy tale castles, gothic warehouses, and art deco high rises, come join me on the East Side! You will be surprised with the diversity of decorative terra cotta that enchants this neighborhood."

On Aug. 14 at 11 a.m. he leads a bike tour of King Drive that starts at Messmer High on Capitol Drive and ends at Schlitz Park.

Details about the tours, about Tyjeski’s work and more can be found here.

An architectural rendering shows how the interior of the new South Side branch library on 9th and Mitchell might look.
An architectural rendering shows how the interior of the new South Side branch library on 9th and Mitchell might look.

A first look at how the new South Side library might look

Last year, we took you inside the former Hills Building, 906-910 W. Mitchell St., which is being converted into a mixed-use development that will include residential units and a new Milwaukee Public Library, to replace the Forest Home Library a bit further west at 1432 W. Forest Home Ave.

Recently, the library released this architect's rendering of what the interior of the library could look like.

I requested more images, but was told that more are forthcoming, but not yet available.

HGA Architects is designing the new library space on the ground floor of the building, which was originally home to a department store.

This week, MPL will host a community meeting about the project.

On Wednesday, July 20, from 6 to 8 p.m. MPL staff and HGA will discuss design concepts for the library. Word is that Mayor Tom Barrett and Ald. Jose Perez will be on hand at the meeting, which will be held at the Gerald L. Ignace Indian Health Center, 930 W. Mitchell St.

What is in store for this beautiful footbridge?
What is in store for this beautiful footbridge?

Important meeting set to discuss the future of Lake Park Bridge

A public information meeting on the future of the 1905 Alfred Clas-designed Lake Park Ravine Road footbridge has been set for Tuesday, July 19 at 5 p.m. in the meeting room beneath Lake Park Bistro. Testimony will be heard from the community.

According to a post on the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood association's website, there are new hopes for saving the existing bridge rather than replacing it or doing away with it altogether.

HWTN points first to a report by Minnesota-based historic bridge restoration company Olson & Nesvold Engineers that says a "reasonable rehabilitation option" could extend the life of the bridge by 40 to 50 years.

Last month, Wisconsin's State Historic Preservation Office said that Milwaukee County Parks "must demonstrate that (the) bridge cannot be feasibly repaired" before it can look at other options.

It added that because the Frederick Law Olmsted-designed park is on the National Register of Historic Places, "A new construction design is not appropriate and will result in an adverse effect to the historic parkway property."

Finally, HWTN notes that "supporters have identified federal grants available to pay for most of the cost of repairs, greatly reducing cost to county property taxpayers. In contrast, the cost of replacing the bridge would need to be fully borne by county property taxpayers – the grants cannot be used for replacement or demolition."

Go to the meeting for further updates and to make your voice heard.

In the meantime, Ravine Road – the curving, wooded byway spanned by the bridge – remains closed until the bridge is repaired, replaced or removed.