HMI City Hall



MONDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2010 4:00PM


How to help:

Email Historic Milwaukee for information.

Attend the HPC meeting on Monday at 4PM. Sign in stating you are against demolition of the subject parcels in the East Side Commercial District, Resolution 100877. List you are a Member of Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

Send an email to your Milwaukee Alderman/woman.

Send an email to the Chair of Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Commission.

300 Block East Wisconsin Avenue
327 East Wisconsin Avenue Detail

611-625 North Milwaukee

625 North Milwaukee Storefront 1

629 North Milwaukee

633 North Milwaukee

327 East Wisconsin Avenue

Historic Milwaukee's Mission is to increase awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee's history, architecture, and the preservation of our built environment. We provide this through innovative, responsive programs and strong community, corporate and civic alliances.

As a collaborative and forward-thinking organization, we are not against developments involving new construction or adaptive and creative uses of historic and older buildings. We believe in the importance of quality, well-designed, and ambitious new architecture that is cultivated with a mind sensitive toward what we've inherited and what it can teach us.

City Hall night

At 4PM this Monday, Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will review an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) to demolish buildings at 319-323 and 327 East Wisconsin Avenue, and 625, 627 and 629-631 North Milwaukee Street. They are part of one of the last complete blocks of 19th century commercial architecture in Milwaukee.

As the Executive Director of an organization that gives over 500 tours to visitors and residents every year - including two tours that discuss the subject buildings, one of East Town that begins at the Pfister Hotel, and one of Downtown that begins at the Plankinton Arcade - I can tell you visitors (and residents) overwhelmingly agree our architecture is one of the most attractive and distinctive aspects of Milwaukee, especially our gorgeous 19th century cream brick buildings

and early 20thcentury commercial and residential architecture. Milwaukee does not have an "anywhere" built environment. This is a crucial characteristic in drawing people, investment, and talent to the city. And it's not just me saying this.

"[...] historic preservation is an excellent vehicle for economic development."

In 1987 the Common Council of Milwaukee voted to locally designate the buildings at the southwest corner of Milwaukee Street and Wisconsin Avenue as part of the East Side Commercial Historic District. This means any alterations or demolitions proposed within the designated district must receive a COA from the HPC. The HPC determines whether a proposal will receive a COA based on criteria set forth in Milwaukee's Historic Preservation Ordinance.

Not only locally registered, the East Side Commercial Historic District is also listed on the State and National Registers for Historic Places. People who rehabilitate these structures may apply for significant Tax Credits.

An awareness of historic architecture in our urban fabric is also an important part of innovative and forward-thinking planning. Milwaukee's Downtown Plan, accepted by Milwaukee's Common Council in October of this year states, "Downtown Milwaukee has numerous historic or historic-quality buildings. Well executed restorations have sparked new life for a number of these buildings. [...] Historic buildings and "iconic" buildings, (which may or may not be listed as historical structures) that strongly define a local context due to their unique placement, design, or character should be used as the essential framework on which to create or further develop a sense of place. [...] Downtown improvements and redevelopments should feel uniquely "Milwaukee" and not try to mimic current national trends." It is clear Milwaukeean's have chosen to empower the community with tools to ensure the careful consideration of our built environment.

If the Historic Preservation Ordinance, the East Town Commercial Historic District, and the Downtown Plan do not convince you these buildings are worth keeping around, demolition over rehabilitation has a lasting negative environmental impact. Careful consideration of the management of our built environment is an important part of creating sustainable communities.

I hope to see you on Monday,

Anna-Marie Opgenorth

Executive Director