January 23, 2010

Downtown's hidden treasure - By George Wagner

George Wagner, a knowledgeable HMI guide who recently scripted our Six Points walking tour, is working hard to bring Doors Open to Milwaukee.

Something like 10,000 people have moved into condominiums and apartments in the downtown Milwaukee area over the past 20 years. When these folks are asked why they live downtown, they say it's the proximity to great cultural and sports venues, a beautiful lakefront, terrific restaurants and exciting events.
But they also mention something less tangible: They love the downtown ambience that juxtaposes the old and the new. They enjoy walking among and inside our downtown buildings. And that squares with a comment we volunteer tour guides at Historic Milwaukee Inc. often hear from visitors: "You have a lovely downtown with so many beautiful old buildings!"
When we give these tours, what elicits the "oohs" and "aahs" are often the interior spaces: from the federal courthouse atrium to City Hall's light well; from the elegant Grain Exchange Room to the Pfister Hotel lobby; from the remodeled interior of St. John's Cathedral to the Plankinton Arcade.
Yet many visitors to our downtown, from near or far, are unaware of the treasures that lay within. We have a great heritage inside those buildings.
There are a number of cities in the United States and Canada that have inaugurated "Doors Open" weekends to highlight these kinds of hidden gems. Ten years ago, Toronto was the first. It was so successful that its province started Doors Open Ontario two years later. New York City followed suit. Two years ago, I visited Denver to investigate its program and came back excited and convinced that Milwaukee could do the same. These cities' Doors Open events continue to expand to include neighborhoods outside of their centers. We could do likewise.
Here's how it works. Every year, on a weekend in the spring or fall, about a hundred buildings open up to the public free of charge. Building owners are invited to open their doors, deciding how much of their building they want to showcase. Some feel comfortable allowing the public into their lobby; others have their staff present tours of the building. Visitors decide which sites they want to check out on their own schedule. In addition, these two-day events typically include dozens of "expert tours" that are ticketed but free and open on a first-come basis.
What kinds of buildings are featured? Churches, office buildings, theaters, museums, libraries, hotels, condominiums, government buildings, shops, athletic facilities, architectural firms, banks, restaurants, schools, clubs and historic homes. From belfries to boardrooms, from the newest to the oldest, from the ornate to the simple, from original use to total do-over.
Whether you want to climb City Hall's bell tower, peek into luxury condos, examine the Grohmann Museum's rooftop sculptures up close or find out about downtown's "green hotels," a Doors Open program could make that happen.
In a sense, such an event could be a kind of homecoming for our own area residents. It's returning to the roots of our parents and grandparents and understanding that what made Milwaukee great in the past continues today in its built environment.
Historic Milwaukee Inc. is working to make this event a reality here. Preliminary plans envision Doors Open Milwaukee for September 2011.
It's time to show off our downtown's wonderful architectural heritage, both outside and in.

George Wagner of Milwaukee is a retired librarian. E-mail gwagne61@yahoo.com

January 13, 2010

A View of Our City in Three Acts

A View of Our City in Three Acts
Historic Milwaukee’s 2010 Panel Discussion Series
Sponsored by Reinhart, Boerner, Van Deuren s.c.
Moderated by Real Estate Attorney Bruce Block

Registration after the jump!

Location: 1000 North Water St., 21st floor
All discussions begin at 7PM and are preceded by an optional 6PM Cocktail Hour
(admission sold separately)
Enjoy dazzling views with an open bar and heavy hor d’oeuvres. Meet and mingle with the panelists. Reservations Limited!

Prices for Panel Discussions
$10 ea. for HMI, FUEL, Next Gen. Members / $25 for series
$15 ea. for Non Members / $40 for series
$7 ea. for University Students

Prices for Cocktail Hour
$15 ea. for HMI, FUEL, Next Gen. Members / $40 for series
$20 ea. for Non Members / $55 for series

Act I: Thursday, February 25th
What is Historic?! Historic preservation and designation under municipal landmark ordinances.

Alderman Robert Bauman - 6th District, Member of Milwaukee’s Historic Preservation Commission
Jim Draeger - Architectural Historian for the Wisconsin Historical Society
Paul Jakubovich - Preservation Planner for the City of Milwaukee

January 6, 2010

Spaces & Traces Press Release

For Immediate Release

A Milwaukee Tradition Takes on Historic Brewers Hill and Beerline Neighborhoods
Historic Milwaukee, Inc’s Spaces & Traces annual event highlights the architecture and history of these unique neighborhoods

MILWAUKEE, WI – (May 2010) Historic Milwaukee, Inc (HMI) announces the 29th annual Spaces &Traces educational and cultural event taking place Saturday, May 15. Guided walking tours and lectures through the Historic Brewers Hill and Beerline neighborhoods will highlight their history, architecture and evolution.

The Historic Brewers Hill and Beerline neighborhoods, located north of Downtown Milwaukee, will be featured for the first time on the Spaces & Traces tour of exquisite neighborhoods. This annual spring open house is one of 2 major fundraising events that subsidize the other 500 HMI tours/events throughout the year, while offering a gift for posterity to the featured neighborhood. 

2010 Spaces & Traces will run from 9am to 5pm. Tickets can be bought in advance at the HMI Office, Winkie’s Variety Store and Milwaukee Area Boston Stores for $20/HMI members and $25/Non-members. On the day of, tickets will cost $25/HMI members and $30/Non-members. Tune into HMI’s Facebook and Twitter pages for contests and promotions.

2010 Spaces & Traces is sponsored by: TBD.

HMI is recognized as a leader in creating awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee’s history and the preservation of its built environment. This is done through innovative, responsive programs and strong community, corporate and civic alliances. HMI seeks to grow a sense of community through the advocacy and education of Milwaukee’s rich past and prospering future.

Visit www.historicmilwaukee.org for more details.
And For More Information:
Anna-Marie Opgenorth
Historic Milwaukee, Inc.
Phone: (414) 277–7795 

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