• Celebrating a Preservation Win at Milwaukee Soldiers’ Home

    August 22, 2016

    After a public advocacy campaign that began more than five years ago, we’re extremely proud to announce that several of the Soldiers’ Home buildings have been saved.

    Earlier this month, the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that it had chosen the Alexander Company and the Milwaukee City Housing Authority to enter into an Enhanced Use Lease to rehabilitate six historic buildings on the grounds of the Soldiers Home, including the iconic Old Main. This was the outcome so many of us had long hoped for; not only will these historic buildings that once served Civil War soldiers be saved, they will be put back into the service of veterans for which they were originally built more than 150 years ago.

    This effort began as an uphill battle. When the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance nominated the Soldiers’ Home to the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list in 2009, Old Main had a gaping hole in its roof—no small problem when you consider the length and intensity of Wisconsin winters!

    But as the saying goes, “many hands make light work,” and we were never short of people willing to lend a hand to this campaign. Thanks to all of the people who have been there for this important place throughout the duration of this effort—including hundreds of people from throughout Wisconsin and across the country who tirelessly lent their support in ways large and small.

    A special thanks goes out to the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, VISN 12, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs staff that were responsible for making the Enhanced Use Lease project happen, and for maintaining and rehabbing other Soldiers Home buildings, including the Ward Theater and the Old Hospital.

    Most of all, we want to thank the many veterans who spoke out on behalf of the Soldiers’ Home. Your stories, collected here at the Save the Soldiers Home website, remain a stirring reminder of why we were doing this work in the first place.

    For more than 150 years, this place has been a center of healing and recuperation for the men and women of our nation’s armed forces. Thanks to so many of you, after decades in which these buildings sat vacant, they will once again be places that veterans can call home.

  • New Video Highlights Milwaukee Soldiers Home

    November 16, 2015

    Leading into an important Enhanced Use Lease public hearing in early December, we wanted to showcase our latest video about Milwaukee Soldiers Home to help inspire you to join us on December 2 or submit your comments in writing.

    This time around, we’ve gathered amazing drone camera images flying high above the facility, in addition to using our #ThisPlaceMatters campaign to ask people why the National Treasure is so important to veterans, preservationists, and citizens of Milwaukee.

    Check it out:

  • Voice Your Support of Enhanced Use Leases

    November 9, 2015

    We have some exciting news to share about the future of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home's vacant buildings: On December 2nd, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs will hold a public hearing about returning its historic buildings to the service of veterans through Enhanced Use Leases. At this time, we believe Enhanced Use Leases are the most promising way to restore the District's vacant buildings.

    We need your help!
    Please plan to attend the Enhanced Use Lease public hearing and let other interested parties know about the meeting on:

    Wednesday, December 2 at 7:00 p.m.
    at Clement J. Zablocki VAMC's Matousek Auditorium
    5000 West National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295
    Click here to view the public notice

    If you are unable to attend the public hearing, you can submit written feedback to:

    Clement J. Zablocki VAMC
    EUL Public Hearing C/O Brian Walker
    5000 West National Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53295

    About Enhanced Use Leases
    The National Trust for Historic Preservation and Milwaukee Preservation Alliance are committed to seeing the Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District's vacant buildings restored and returned to the service of veterans and believe that, at this time, the Enhanced Use Lease (or EUL) is one of the most promising options to do so.

    At this time, the Department of Veterans Affairs is looking at Enhanced Use Leases for Building 2 (Old Main), Building 1 (Administration Building), Building 14 (Catholic Chaplains Quarters), and Buildings 18, 19, and 62 (Personal Quarters Buildings); allowing them to be leased out long-term to outside parties to be rehabilitated. With EULs, leased buildings must be used to provide housing for veterans who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness.

    The December 2nd public hearing in Milwaukee is designed to explain the proposed leases. After the public hearing, the V.A. will release formal Requests for Proposals to interested outside parties.

  • American Legion Supports Historic VA Properties

    December 17, 2014

    Earlier this year representatives of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the "Save the [Battle Mountain Sanitarium] VA" group met with The American Legion in Washington, D.C., to share our work on our two VA National Treasures – rehabbing and reusing vacant buildings at the Milwaukee Soldiers Home and preventing the closure of the Battle Mountain Sanitarium in Hot Springs, South Dakota.

    Recently, in a resolution regarding the Department of Veterans Affairs' preservation of national historic properties, The American Legion took up the cause to retain medical center services at Battle Mountain Sanitarium, and also requested Section 111 guidance from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Section 111 guidance will provide an opportunity to return the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District's vacant buildings to the service of veterans through long-term leases that would enable the VA to leverage private investment, rather than rely on limited federal funding.

    Beyond the ask for long-term leasing, The American Legion urged Congress to establish a construction funding account within the VA dedicated to maintenance of the VA's historic medical facilities. The American Legion also asked Congress to enact legislation that would establish an office within the VA to oversee this work and develop an annual reporting process.

    This is great news for all of the VA's historic properties, including the Milwaukee Soldiers Home. As the National Trust for Historic Preservation works with the American Legion on legislative actions to support these resolutions, we'll continue to keep you updated on our progress.

    To learn more about the Save the Soldiers Home effort, and to download a free downloadable walking tour app, visit http://www.savethesoldiershome.com/.

  • Milwaukee Soldiers Home: One Reason to Love Milwaukee

    October 22, 2014

    There are many reasons to love Milwaukee. From local breweries, festivals and nightlife to major league sports – Milwaukee has it all. But in addition to these well-known Milwaukee staples, there are a few unique and arguably one-of-a-kind reasons to love Milwaukee, one of which is the Milwaukee Soldiers Home (Soldiers Home).

    Hidden on the grounds of the Milwaukee VA Medical Center, the Soldiers Home is one of Wisconsin’s most notable historical assets and one that the Trust, in partnership with the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, has been working hard to save.

    Recently, Milwaukee Magazine named the Soldiers Home one of its “Reasons to Love Milwaukee.” I have to say, I agree.

    According to the article:

    Tucked away behind Miller Park is one of three remaining (original) Soldiers Homes in the country. Built in 1867, it’s one of the first locations of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The philosophy behind creating the Soldiers Home was to have a safe haven “for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan,” according to President Abraham Lincoln in his second inaugural address. Restoration efforts at the site are ongoing, and the Milwaukee VA hopes to soon renovate nine historic buildings for homeless veteran housing.

    Milwaukee is often known for its tradition of brewing and manufacturing, but its history goes far deeper than that. The Milwaukee Soldiers Home is an important part of our nation’s history. Our hope is that more and more people will agree with Milwaukee Magazine and discover for themselves that the Soldiers Home is one of the great reasons to love Milwaukee.

    To learn more about the Save the Soldiers Home effort, and to download a free downloadable walking tour app, visit http://www.SavetheSoldiersHome.com.

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