May 21, 2024


We Do Fine Home

Milwaukee Soldiers Home veterans housing reaches capacity as VA eyes other possible renovation projects | WUWM 89.7 FM

It will quickly be a “total home” at the Soldiers Property at the Milwaukee VA on the city’s west aspect.

The business that accomplished a $44 million renovation challenge previously this calendar year mentioned all 101 housing units for lower-earnings veterans would be occupied by the conclude of this month. The federal govt stated it hopes to desire developers in updating a lot more properties on the VA campus, which dates again to the late 1860s.

At 1 stage, a lot more than 1,000 wounded veterans from the Civil War and veterans from other conflicts lived at Previous Principal, which is the Victorian Gothic setting up with the six-story tower.

The VA’s Michael Mullen explained that setting up is a community icon.

“It really is tricky to push from the zoo to the lakefront devoid of viewing the Previous Key spire,” Mullen explained.

But in the final 3rd of the 20th century the remaining inhabitants still left, and just after some years just for VA workers use, the large building fell into disrepair. National historic groups referred to as it an endangered web site.


The Zablocki VA hospital is visible from the window on the upper flooring of Aged Key.

But then the community and private sectors got together on a offer that involved historic preservation tax credits, donations and other money. This previous spring, the renovated Outdated Most important and five scaled-down structures reopened to veterans who have been homeless or at hazard of homelessness. Federal housing vouchers aid pay back the rent.

Mullen is the historical liaison for the Clement Zablocki Clinical Middle and retains tabs on all the structures in the Milwaukee Soldiers Dwelling Countrywide Historic Landmark District.

Mullen stated he’s incredibly pleased with the housing renovation, not just as a VA worker.

“I am a veteran, and to see veterans in fact come in and occupy these residences is just great,” Mullen mentioned.

Very last 7 days, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Growth and the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation gave Troopers Residence a preservation excellence award.

Next a quick ceremony inside of the Previous Key, Jon Beck of The Alexander Firm, a Madison-primarily based genuine estate developer with a 75-year enhanced-use lease with the VA, gave site visitors a tour. Beck commenced in the previous main entrance hallway, chatting about the restored exterior doors.

“[Those exterior doors] had been set in storage 30 several years in the past.  All of the plaster partitions finished up getting restored, all the terrazzo ended up remaining redone. My guess is this went in appropriate soon after World War II,” Beck reported.

Apart from that composite flooring, other elements of Aged Key have restored wood flooring. 

Most of the residing house is for men and women of all ages, but Beck also showed just one of the two wings specified for women veterans only.

“For any girl veteran that needs to experience comfy, we have this wing, which is five models and one more wing that is 6 units,” Beck claimed.


A 1st-flooring lounge within Aged Most important is embellished for the Christmas getaway.

The restored Old Most important also involves a substantial central lounge, a recreation corridor, a laptop education middle and places of work for circumstance professionals who operate with the veterans. The slate and asphalt roof has been replaced.

But it’s not the only 19th century composition at the Troopers Dwelling that has essential attention.

Down the hill from Aged Primary is an empty building with a significant barbed wire fence all over it.

“We had some men and women who were moving into the facility, and producing some destruction,” Mullen mentioned.

The making is Ward Memorial Theatre, which above the last 140 decades has served as an amusement corridor for veterans, a effectiveness location, a location of worship, a restaurant and even a railroad ticket workplace.

Practically a ten years ago, the VA used about $4 million on the exterior of the Ward to give it a facelift.


Zablocki VA Historic Liaison Michael Mullen stands outdoors the Ward Memorial Theatre.

Mullen stated someday following year, the VA hopes to put out a request for proposals to see if non-public developers want to redo the within. The ask for for proposals may possibly also consist of renovating two other older properties, the chapel and the governor’s home crafted in 1868 as quarters for Soldiers Dwelling leaders.

Mullen claimed the hope is to insert a cafe or grocery retail outlet to the somewhat isolated spot.

“Some of these contemporary day conveniences, just issues all people can take for granted every single working day, that are in your neighborhood, we don’t have below on this campus,” Mullen claimed.

The Alexander Enterprise, producing money on the Previous Principal renovation, is not committing to everything. But Beck claimed it would be “good to do another undertaking” with the VA. Beck said it has been “excellent” to get the job done with the Section of Veterans Affairs.