“These grounds and buildings talked of an earlier time, when healing was not just about pills and procedures. It was about nature, fresh air, and majestic trees; where the buildings themselves are art…
We could learn much from these healers of a century ago, to help our newest generation of veterans heal their wounds of war.”
-Bob Curry, Vietnam Veteran and Founder of DryHootch
The Milwaukee Soldiers Home National Historic Landmark District is an invaluable historical asset to Milwaukee, Wisconsin and the nation. Established just after the Civil War, this 90-plus acre district rests on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center and represents Milwaukee’s role in furthering veteran care in America. One of only 43 National Historic Landmarks in Wisconsin, it is the most intact Soldiers Home in the country and the only one with the majority of its surrounding recuperative village remaining.
Today, this great historic asset is threatened. In response, The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, in partnership with key local, regional and national stakeholders, have spearheaded a renewed effort to protect, repair and rehabilitate the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home District. The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance is at work to identify and capitalize upon opportunities to motivate the greater community and the VA to take steps to put the District, a national treasure, back into the service of veterans. With wise stewardship, the Soldiers Home can be a place of enhanced services to veterans, commemorating the Civil War and honoring the sacrifice of veterans of all wars.
Thanks in large part to an advocacy and awareness effort led by the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA), six of the Soldiers Home’s vacant buildings – including the iconic Old Main - have been renovated. to provide 101 supportive housing units for veterans and their families who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Veterans in need are once again receiving care and healing at the Soldiers Home, because every hero deserves a home.
THE NEED REMAINS
Though Veterans once again call Old Main home, other key historic buildings remain threatened. Ward Memorial Theater, The Governor’s Mansion and the Soldiers Home Chapel, for example, remain unused and deteriorating. MPA is encouraging the VA to pursue a request for proposals seeking a developer to rehabilitate these three notable, vacant historic buildings.