Today, the National Trust for Historic Preservation (National Trust) and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) announced new interpretive signage along the Hank Aaron State Trail. The signage will educate trail users about the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home Historic District.
“We have made great progress in educating the community about the invaluable historic and architectural asset we have right here in our backyard,” said Dawn McCarthy, President of MPA’s Board of Directors. “These signs will be a resource for the many individuals who discover the Soldiers Home District as they travel the Hank Aaron State Trail.”
The signage presents trail users with a brief history of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home, its landscape and some of its most notable buildings, including Old Main and Ward Memorial Hall. The signs were purchased thanks to a successful fundraising campaign led by MPA. In addition to the Hank Aaron State Trail signage, the campaign funded signage along Interstate 94 and the creation of a free, downloadable walking tour smartphone app.
New Signage Marks Successes of Five-Year Effort
The announcement marks five years of the National Trust and MPA’s effort to Save the Soldiers Home and provides an occasion to reflect upon the notable strides that have been made to protect, rehabilitate and repair the Soldiers Home’s buildings and designed landscape.
Five years ago, the National Trust named the Milwaukee Soldiers Home to its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Since that time, the National Trust, in partnership with MPA, have led efforts to raise awareness of the Soldiers Home and encouraged the VA to return the District’s vacant buildings to their original purpose: the service of veterans.
In addition to significant repairs to address a major hole in the roof of the rear wing of Old Main that left the building open to the elements, the VA has undertaken various construction and rehabilitation projects on the grounds.
Most recently, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking responses from developers interested in rehabilitating six of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District's historic buildings using Enhanced Use Leases (EULs). EULs would allow the District's buildings to be leased long-term, restored, and converted to housing for veterans who are homeless or who are at risk of homelessness. At this time, EULs are the most promising way to restore and return these buildings to the service of veterans.
“We have made substantial progress over the past five years,” said Genell Scheurell, Senior Field Officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “I’m looking forward a day in the near future when veterans can once again call Old Main home.”
About the Hank Aaron State Trail Signage
Hank Aaron State Trail signage panels at the Soldiers Home were supported by Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, Beyer Stewardship Fund, Brewers Community Foundation, and Friends of the Hank Aaron State Trail. The signs were designed by local graphic and landscape designer, Nancy Aten. To view the signs, visit http://tinyurl.com/HASTSigns. In addition to the Hank Aaron State Trail signage, the campaign funded signage along Interstate 94 and the creation of a free, downloadable walking tour smartphone app., which was funded by the David and Julia Uihlein Charitable Foundation.
About the Soldiers Home
Established just after the Civil War, the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home is a 90-plus acre district that rests on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki Medical Center. One of only 43 National Historic Landmarks in Wisconsin, it contains some of the oldest and most historic buildings in the VA system. Though many of its buildings remain in use, some of the District's largest and most visible buildings are unoccupied and deteriorating. To learn more, visit http://www.SavetheSoldiersHome.com.
About the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.SavingPlaces.org
About the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) is a nonprofit organization devoted to promoting stewardship and awareness of the historic, cultural and economic value of Milwaukee’s built heritage. http://www.milwaukeepreservationalliance.org