This Spring, Old Main will reopen to veterans as part of a successful reuse and rehabilitation effort that is restoring the most prominent building on the Soldiers Home campus to its original use. Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) is launching an effort to explore opportunities to save three more buildings on the campus: the Ward Memorial Theater, the Soldiers Home Chapel and the Governor’s Mansion.
MPA has engaged a team of Historic Preservation Consultants, led by Miller Dunwiddie, to explore new uses and funding for the vacant and endangered buildings. The project team also includes Allume Architects, Alexander Company, JP Cullen, and Nissley Environmental Consultants. A final report is expected this spring and will be used to show the viability of reuse and encourage the issuing of a new Department of Veteran Affairs Request for Proposals (RFP) to developers to lease and sensitively redevelop these buildings to meet the needs of the veteran community.
A key part of the study involves securing public input on desired uses. The process kicked off with a targeted listening session with the Wisconsin Veteran Chamber of Commerce and continues with a public survey, available this week only, to help guide the vision for the reuse and restoration of these important historic buildings. Anyone who is interested in helping create the vision for the future of these buildings is encouraged to participate online, here. The survey will close on Friday, February 12.
The public is also encouraged to become involved by contributing to funding the planning study. Currently, MPA is raising funds to support this initial study phase, estimated at $15,000. The fundraising is supported by a $5,000 matching grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Donations can be made on the Soldiers Home website.