The weekend of September 19-22 I flew up to Milwaukee to visit my sister, Kerri, who has been living there for just over a year. I was planning the trip and she suggested that weekend because of the event, Doors Open Milwaukee.
I picked an ambitious 24 buildings from the list, with a few recommended by Kerri. We had spreadsheets and maps, making a plan that would give us a good opportunity to see all the buildings we selected. As we walked and drove the city, we caught a few buildings not originally on the list, but they happened to be next to or across the street from buildings we had planned to see.
The architecture in Milwaukee, especially the old buildings, is phenomenal. They do such a great job of maintaining or restoring the historical buildings. The buildings we saw were so different, it's difficult to pick favorites. There are some I definitely got better pictures of due to smaller crowds of people.
Kerri was very patient with me while I walked around to photograph the buildings. Several of the buildings she enjoyed the tours being provided. And other buildings she kept the Docent company, while I moved around.
Below are the galleries of photos I took at each of the buildings we made it to. The descriptions are from the DoorsOpenMilwaukee.org website. Click the pictures for the high resolution, non-cropped image.
Address: 2308 W. Wisconsin Avenue
A shining example of true Art Deco style, the Ambassador Hotel provides an urban oasis near the heart of downtown Milwaukee. Discover a remarkable blend of modern amenities and 1920s Art Deco design. From the original marble floors and bronze elevator doors to the ornate plasterwork, every detail of the Ambassador Hotel is a testament to the bold beauty of Art Deco. Guests will receive guided tours each hour at the top of the hour, with the last tour beginning at 4pm. Tours will include public areas of the hotel, as well as guest room accommodations offered at the Ambassador. Learn about the unique history of the ambassador and see the original Art Deco details throughout the property.
Basilica of St. Josaphat
Address: 601 W. Lincoln Avenue
The Basilica stands alone. The year was 1896. Polish immigrants were pouring into the southside of Milwaukee. Parishioners numbered more than 12,000. Rev. Wilhelm Grutza had a vision – build a grand church, one the community would be proud of, would honor the Polish heritage and be a destination by people from around the world. Visitors to the Basilica will experience inspiration beyond their imaginations. A chance to step back to a time and learn how the energy and passion of our founding brothers and sisters erected an “ignored wonder of the world.”
Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts
Address: 2419 E. Kenwood Boulevard
The Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts (commonly referred to as the "Zelazo Center") is a state-of-the art venue for events ranging from the most intimate meeting to the grandest wedding. Originally used as a synagogue by Congregation Emanu-El B'ne Jeshurun since 1922, the building boasts a grand entrance, two elaborate stained glass displays, as well as exquisite molding, arches, and decorative elements. The Zelazo Center includes the 758-seat Helen Bader Concert Hall, two conference facilities, six new warm-up/practice spaces and two dining and/or ballrooms. The space includes a molded parabolic dome and is flanked by twelve 20-foot transept stained glass windows designed by the Congregation’s Rabbi Joseph El L. Baron. The building will be open to the public to explore. There will most likely be open rehearsals going on in the concert hall.
Address: 411 E. Mason Street
Time stands still on the corner of Milwaukee and Mason Streets. Walk through the doors of Hotel Metro and return to an era where the spirit of hospitality thrived. A hotel where the mood is full of charm and character. Where luxury has been achieved through attention to detail and courteous, unobtrusive service. The hotel is located in a historic neighborhood and was designed by Eschweiler & Eschweiler to complement and stand out in the neighborhood while offering stylish and trendy options for the time period. Locally, the Art Deco movement was at its peak and the architecture of the building reflects that via the high ceilings and curvature found throughout the building. It was built as an office building in 1937 and was the first to have central air conditioning throughout.
BMO Harris Bradley Center
Address: 1001 N. 4th Street — Potawatomi Gate
One of the top favorite stops during the Doors Open Milwaukee! Get the ‘back of house,’ behind the scenes tour of the Milwaukee Bucks team locker room, building operations, Premium Suite, Club and Theater Box spaces. See the arena from the camera’s vantage point from the Video suite. Visit the Star dressing rooms and view performer memorabilia. Learn how hockey ice is made. Bring your camera for photo ops up-close and personal with the 31’x33’ Scoreboard.
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts
Address: 929 N. Water Street
The Marcus Center has been a premier entertainment destination for Milwaukee and Wisconsin since 1969. Located in the heart of the Downtown Theater District, the Marcus Center is a community facility that offers live performance of opera, ballet, children’s theater, symphony, Off Broadway, one night performances and first-class national touring productions of Broadway. Tours of Uihlein Hall and the Todd Wehr Theater, including backstage tours when possible. Public reception and meeting spaces will also be visited. Guests will be familiarized with the history of the Marcus Center and the it’s occupants. They will also gain insight into how the Center is able to provide a wide variety of entertainment and reception offerings in it’s multiple venues.
McIntosh | Goodrich Mansion (home of the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music)
Address: 1548 N. Prospect Avenue
This Neo-Classical Revival style mansion, built in 1903, was home to industrialist Charles L. McIntosh; then linseed oil businessman William Osborne Goodrich and his wife, a daughter of brewing magnate Captain Frederick Pabst; and finally the Wisconsin Conservatory of Music in 1934. The McIntosh|Goodrich Mansion exterior features dark red Galesburg paving brick, a monumental four column Corinthian portico, Michigan raindrop brownstone trim, and copper cornices. Interior highlights include stained glass attributed to Louis Comfort Tiffany, mahogany trimmed fireplaces, and grand curved glass bay windows overlooking the lake, among many others. Take a guided ‘highlights’ tour, offered every hour on the hour, or explore the building at your leisure with a self-guided tour pamphlet. Live performances will be presented throughout the day by the Conservatory’s students.
Mackie Building / The Grain Exchange Room
Address: 225 E. Michigan Street
The three-story Grain Exchange Room (trading room) is the awesome showcase of the interior of the Mackie Building. Flanked by murals, marble columns, and gold leaf, the new trading room when built was replacing what may have been the first trading pit in the world. The vast trading room stretches to roughly 10,000 square feet, with colossal columns dividing the room into three sections. At the center, a skylight surrounded by frescos of wheat sheave medallions and Wisconsin wild flowers caps the room. The murals, painted by John S. Conway, have an especially noteworthy history.
Milwaukee Art Museum
Address: 700 N. Art Museum Drive
The graceful Quadracci Pavilion is a sculptural, postmodern addition to the Milwaukee Art Museum completed in 2001, designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. The 142,050 square-foot Quadracci Pavilion was planned to primarily contain public spaces. Drop-in architectural tours of the Quadracci Pavilion (Calatrava addition) from noon-4pm every hour on both days. Admission charge for art museum galleries.
Plymouth Church UCC
Address: 2717 E. Hampshire Street
Hundred year old gem: Alexander Eschweiler designed the original Plymouth Church (1913). Later additions included a gymnasium (1919) and school building (1928). Eight romanticized images of the life of Jesus by the Tiffany Studio adorn the sanctuary. A dramatic west window by Tiffany depicts the “Angel of Peace.” Visitors will be able to chose either guided or self-guided tours of the building. Tours will explain the unique elements of the building and the stories behind the Tiffany windows.
Milwaukee Theatre / UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena
Address: 490 W. Kilbourn Avenue
Opened in 1950, the UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena has been a cornerstone to the Downtown Entertainment District. A home to sports teams, concerts, ice shows, circuses, graduations, assemblies, and competitions, the Arena seats up to 12,700 people. One of the first TV-friendly venues in the nation, the then-"Milwaukee Arena" came of age with rock & roll and later gained fame as "MECCA," a house of champions with a reputation for unparalleled fan intensity and an audacious Pop Art basketball floor. A major 1998 renovation readied the building for the 21st century with new technology and enhanced accommodations for both patrons and productions, while retaining its fervor-inducing geometry and super-strong, ready-to-rig ceiling. Visitors will be welcomed to the Annex, located between the U.S. Cellular Arena and the Milwaukee Theatre, which will be the meeting place for tours of either building; but wait, there's more! Displays and recordings taking you back through each buildings' history of public shows and events.
Milwaukee City Hall
Address: 200 E. Wells Street
When built in 1895, City Hall was the third-tallest building in the country. Explore our most iconic landmark’s 10-story rotunda throughout the event. The Flemish Renaissance structure consists of a basement and eight stories of city offices. Take a 30-minute, guided tour of the largest common council chambers in the U.S.
Address: 1134 West Mitchell Street
The Modjeska Theatre was originally built in the 1920s as a vaudeville and movie palace, and had various other uses throughout the years following until it closed in 2010. The Modjeska Theatre will be officially reopening as a theatre on Saturday, October 25, 2014, but will be offering Doors Open Milwaukee visitors a sneak peek exclusively during the event! Larry Widen, Managing Director of the Modjeska Theatre and author of ‘Milwaukee Movie Palaces,” will offer visitors an open-house tour on the half hour during the event, which will consist of Modjeska history, the theatre’s plans for 2014 and beyond and tours of the stage area, dressing rooms and projection booth.
Address: 424 E. Wisconsin Avenue
The Pfister Hotel, built in 1893 has been the premier downtown Milwaukee hotel for over a century and continues to celebrate a tradition of gracious service and impeccable style. Guido Pfister, a local tanner owner, wanted to build a "palace for the people" in Milwaukee, especially after the city's most renowned hotel, The Newhall House, burned down in 1883. From the moment you arrive you will notice the extraordinary architecture and welcoming ambiance marked by a priceless Victorian Art collection, which rivals that of any hotel in the world. Begin your visit in The Rouge where Peter Mortensen will share a brief history of The Pfister Hotel. Subject to availability, you are invited to explore the mezzanine level of this grand hotel.
Address: 779 N. Front Street
This spy museum/restaurant is a favorite Milwaukee attraction, created in 1966 by designer David Baldwin. Yes, you need the password. No, we can’t divulge it. But be assured you’ll get in as soon as you pass your (fun) spy clearance test to prove you’re a friendly. The Safe House is divided into international sectors – look for the Swiss Chalet, the Hong Kong section, the Paris Café, the Mediterranean Room, The English room. Find the hidden spy devices like the crafty instant alibis phone booth, the escape route. Can’t tell you much more or … well, you know.
Tripoli Shrine Center
Address: 3000 W. Wisconsin Avenue
The Tripoli Shrine Center was constructed in 1925 and completed in 1928 and was patterned after the Taj Mahal. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic sites. Visitors will step back in time to take a look at Milwaukee's historic treasure.
Miscellaneous pictures from around Milwaukee.