My name is Genell Scheurell, and I'm a senior field officer in the National Trust’s Chicago Field Office. I’m also the project manager for the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home. We have big plans for the rehabilitation and reuse of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, and we’ll be reporting on our progress here as events unfold.
Which brings me to what is happening right now at the site–fencing. It's going up around some of the buildings on the grounds, but don't be alarmed. These aren't preparations for demolition or any other scary things that could happen to historic buildings.
At a recent meeting, Veterans Affairs personnel advised a number of us representing historic preservation organizations that, due to break-ins at the vacant buildings, they felt they needed to secure Old Main (Building 2), Ward Memorial Hall (Building 41), and Soldiers Chapel (Building 12). According to the VA, these are temporary measures that will help protect the buildings from further intrusions, and therefore potential damage. The fencing will also protect staging areas for upcoming work on these buildings.
Some other work planned for the Soldiers Home Historic District that has been reviewed and approved by the architects at the Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office includes:
- Repairs to the roofs of Old Main (Building 2) and Ward Memorial Hall (Building 41) should begin no later than the end of September or early October.
- Preparation for the construction of two to four new assisted living facilities should begin in July.
- Drain tile was installed around the basement of the Recreation Building (Building 4) to prevent water infiltration.
- A non-historic smokestack on the grounds will be demolished.
- Interior-only changes to the Laundry Building (Building 102) will be made to accommodate a change from laundry use to sanitizing instruments for the VA hospital.