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The 1936 St. Rita's Church will be razed and replaced with a senior living development and a new church.
The 1936 St. Rita's Church will be razed and replaced with a senior living development and a new church.

St. Rita's Church will be razed and replaced with a new Little Pink Church

St. Rita’s Church, 1601 N. Cass St., will be razed and replaced with a new church and a six-story independent living complex for seniors, the church will announce today at a press conference with Mayor Tom Barrett and Ald. Nik Kovac.

The current church, built in 1936, will be replaced with a new building based on the design of the old Blessed Virgin of Pompeii Church – colloquially known by Milwaukee’s Italian-American community as the "Little Pink Church" – that once stood on Jackson Street in the Third Ward.

The new building will preserve art (including frescoes) and spiritual objects not only from the current St. Rita Church building, but also from the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii, which was built in 1904 and demolished for the I-794 freeway in 1967.

St. Rita's was founded in 1925 as a missionary outpost of the Blessed Virgin of Pompeii.

A press release for the news conference says the church will, "serve as Italian community’s spiritual center." Congregation members will work with a liturgical architect to design the interior of the church.

And, yes, it appears from renderings that the new church will have a pink exterior.

The residential senior living building will provide assisted living, memory care and concierge services to its residents. In addition to 29 independent living apartments, 48 assisted living units and 26 memory care units, the building – on the northwest corner of Cass and Pleasant Streets, two blocks south of Brady – will include 2,800 square feet of street-level retail space, too.

The development includes 44 enclosed parking spaces and indoor and outdoor bike parking facilities.

The parish is selling the site to Tarantino & Co., which will tear down the church, convent and vacant school to build the $20 million development, for $1. Tarantino will build the new church and sell it back to the congregation for $1.

Also taking part in today’s press conference are St. Rita’s pastor Father Tim Kitzke, Italian Community Cente…

Spring is here and wine helps make the seasonal transition go more smoothly.
Spring is here and wine helps make the seasonal transition go more smoothly.

4 Italian red wines to welcome spring

Summer is beer season in Milwaukee, it’s true, but in spring, when the temps can fluctuate wildly, a nice glass of red wine can still warm the soul. Here are four Italian reds I’ve tasted recently that are worth scouting at fine wine purveyors in Milwaukee...

Castello di Albola Chianti Classico DOCG 2013

Retailing at about $18-20, this ruby red Chianti – 95 percent sangiovese and 5 percent canaiolo, hand-harvested, fermented on skins and aged in oak for 12 years – is playing above its price point, with an elegance you might expect from a costlier quaff. It’s got hints of violet and a smooth and satisfying mouth feel. As you start to fire up the grill for the season, pair this with a nice steak on the barbecue.

Codice Citra Caroso Montepulciano d’Abruzzo DOC Riserva 2010

One hundred percent Montepulciano undergoes a long maceration with the skins and spends some time in steel before aging in oak barrels and barriques. The result – which retails around $22 – is a deep red wine with garnet hues and a powerful nose with a hint of spice. Rich tannins, a blend of raspberry, cherry, spice and licorice, and a long, satisfying finish make this one a great pairing with rich meats or even with a nice tray of salumi before dinner.

Villa Gemma Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo DOC 2014

Even though it's a rose – and therefore only red-ish – this is 100 percent Montepulciano, like the Caroso, and it has a powerful bouquet. But while you might consider aging the Caroso, this one, with its rich fruitiness and floral qualities, demands your attention now. Drink it young and with darn near anything. Perfect with a cheese tray or a pizza, it’d work nicely with dessert, too. Retails around $15-20.

Kellerei Cantina S. Maddalena DOC Classico Huck am Bach 2015

Wine and Spirits rated this budget-friendly ($10-12) red wine from Italy’s German-speaking Alto Adige region a 90. It’s an easy, approachable, fruity wine with notes of cherries and almonds and medium body. A light…

A recent iFair is just one of the many ways MPS is exposing students to careers in technology.
A recent iFair is just one of the many ways MPS is exposing students to careers in technology. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

New $25K tech lab teaches MPS students to turn ideas into reality

This morning, MPS will unveil its new "Fab Lab," a digital fabrication facility, at Washington High School of Information Technology, 2525 N. Sherman Blvd.

The lab was funded with a $25,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC), and will include two vinyl cutters, a trio of three-dimensional printers, a 3-D scanner, a computer numerical control mill, a laser engraver and the computers to make them hum.

The goal of the workshop is to familiarize students to the kind of high-tech gear that facilitates innovation and creative thinking. In the lab, students can turn their ideas into three-dimensional models.

In February, Washington's principal at the time visited some Fab Labs at three rural schools in the Northwoods to get a first-hand view of what the school could expect from its new workshop.

"Incorporating Fab Labs into educational programs of study has been shown to increase student engagement by providing hands-on opportunities to solve real world problems," notes an MPS press release.

"In Fab Labs, students learn because they want to, they develop technical skill that builds pride in mastery, improves teamwork, teaches critical thinking, persistence and other 21st century employability skills. MPS plans to create more Fab Labs within the district."

Last month, Washington hosted an iFair to introduce students and their families to careers in information technology and engineering.

In the same spirit, the district has also launched an apprenticeship program that works to give high school students real-life, hands-on work experience that allows them to "test drive" potential careers and that they can, hopefully, then parlay into jobs upon graduation.

WUWM’s Rachel Morello did a story on that program this morning. Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service also wrote about it late last year.

Auer Avenue School, circa 1927, when it enrolled nearly 1,000 students and you could see the front of the building.
Auer Avenue School, circa 1927, when it enrolled nearly 1,000 students and you could see the front of the building. (Photo: Milwaukee Public Schools)

Can you help find Auer Avenue School's oldest alumnus?

As Auer Avenue Community School prepares to celebrate its 105th anniversary next month, its community is trying to find the oldest living alumnus of the school, which opened in 1903 and is located at 2319 W. Auer Ave.

The 105th Birthday and Alumni Reunion is slated for Saturday, May 6, from noon until 3 p.m. at the school, which is currently one of seven MPS community schools that partner with United Way of Greater Milwaukee & Waukesha County to provide a wide range of services to help students succeed.

According to notes shared by the school’s community school coordinator, Michelle Allison, Auer is the 22nd-oldest school in MPS. The building – it closely resembles a number of MPS schools erected around the same time, including 37th Street and Siefert, the latter of which is credited to the same architect as Auer, George Ehlers – was originally designated Twentieth District No. 4 (having been located in what was then the 20th Ward).

Like all schools, it was renamed for its location in 1912. In this case the name was an especially appropriate one, because the street was named for Louis Auer Jr.

According to Carl Baehr’s "Milwaukee Streets: The Stories Behind the Names," Auer was a real estate developer known for building apartments suitable for families. Unlike many apartments, Auer’s included playgrounds, courtyards and soundproofing.

According to Baehr, the German-born Auer "even gave gave free rent during the month a baby was born in one of his flats, earning him the title ‘The Baby Flat Landlord’."

Auer’s father, Baehr notes, was also a member of the school board, as well as an alderman and county supervisor.

The lovely building with its five tall, arched window bays flooding light into the third-floor gym has a rather unfortunately sited addition – plopped right onto the front of the building in 1967 – that houses middle school classrooms and school support staff.

Fifty-five staff members educate an enrollment of 287 students at Auer…