Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Doors Open Milwaukee Top 10

Cancel your weekend plans, here are 10 can't miss buildings to visit.

By - Sep 19th, 2014 08:51 am
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It’s the most wonderful time of the year. This weekend Milwaukee building owners throw open their doors to let the masses explore the many architectural gems the city has to offer. Back for its 4th year, Doors Open Milwaukee, organized by Historic Milwaukee Inc., brings its free event to downtown and the nearby

I’ve prioritized my list around buildings that aren’t open to the public year round. There are well over 100 sites to check out this year spread all across the city. I could have easily listed 20 more you should go see. I stuck with listing my top ten in alphabetical order.

  1. Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery – A work in progress that has recently reached a milestone, Best Place is a hidden gem in Milwaukee. Tucked in the former Pabst Brewery (worth a neighborhood stroll just to see all of the changes), Best Place is the restored Blue Ribbon Hall and attached office building. The team at Best Place has been hard at working restoring much of the building in the past year and it’s time to show off all of their hard work. You’ll be one the first to see the new space.
  2. Federal Courthouse – Unless you’ve passed the bar, you don’t want to visit here in an official capacity. This gives you the chance to informally see where justice is handed down. It’s a gorgeous Richardsonian Romanesque building that just might be the most attractive building on Wisconsin Ave.
  3. Gas Light Building – Milwaukee’s best Art Deco office building, the 1929 Gas Light Building features a rooftop flame that signals the weather for tomorrow. You’ve seen it, you’ve tried to remember the saying, now go inside.
  4. Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility – Your initial reaction might to avoid finding out where the water goes when you flush the toilet, but that would be a mistake. Jones Island is not only a sewage treatment plant, but a fertilizer factory. A bus tour will take you around the facility that’s normally closed to the public.
  5. Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge – The bridges go up, they go down. They take too long to rebuild. They take too long to open and close. Why do they break? They might be the most misunderstood piece of infrastructure in Milwaukee. Take this chance to see how the bridges work and ask questions of the people that actually operate them. I learned a lot when I visited bridge house during the first Doors Open.
  6. Modjeska Theatre – It might open to the public in another year, but this weekend it’s open to you. A classic Milwaukee movie theater. I’m curious what the inside has to hold.
  7. Sage on Jackson – Milwaukee’s newest apartment building is also the greenest one in the city. Stop by to see what makes it so before people move in and it’s off the list.
  8. US Bank Center – See Milwaukee from the tallest building in Wisconsin. The 360 degree view will be a bit different this year with the under construction Northwestern Mutual Tower and 833 East Michigan office buildings.
  9. We Energies Public Service Building – It’s hard to imagine the power company every building something this grand again. Check out the ornate Public Service Building that used to serve as a hub for the regional interurban system. Ask We Energies to work with the City of Milwaukee to make the Milwaukee Streetcar a reality.
  10. Wm. K. Walthers, Inc – Did you know the Milwaukee area is the center of the model railroading world? It’s true, Kalmbach publishes Model Railroader magazine in Waukesha, and Walthers makes model railroad products in Milwaukee. Go inside a Milwaukee gem.

What did I miss?

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