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In Spring of 2021, Old Main reopened to veterans as part of a successful reuse and rehabilitation effort that  restored 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: Ward Memorial Theater, Soldiers Home Chapel and 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 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 in the survey. The survey closed 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. 

You can help play a part in this important effort; to donate to the study, please click the link below.



The Miller Dunwiddie Team is comprised of historic preservation architects and a financial advisor who specialize in the continued and sustained use of historic properties, including the historic Zablocki VA Medical Center Campus along with Ward Hall Theatre, the Chapel, and the Governor’s Residence buildings.


The team includes several key individuals who have worked previously and currently on this campus including Melissa Christenson Ekman and Denita Lemmon from Miller Dunwiddie; Nick Migan from Allume Architects; Jonathan Beck with Alexander Company; and Jasun Berka with JP Cullen.

The Miller Dunwiddie Team was engaged to perform a peer review of an economic feasibility study commissioned by the VA for Ward Memorial Theater, the Chapel, and the Governor’s Mansion, and to prepare a Proforma based on possible adaptive reuse(s) for these buildings. Our process starts with reviewing previously prepared reports followed by engaging individuals through Listening Sessions and a survey.

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