Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

11 Doors Open Milwaukee Sites for Insiders

A guide for regulars to branch out beyond Downtown.

By - Sep 15th, 2016 07:54 pm
Milwaukee Center. Photo by Dave Reid.

Milwaukee Center. Photo by Dave Reid.

This weekend marks year six for Doors Open Milwaukee. The free event, which offers inside access to over 150 buildings, is now well-established and drawing over 30,000 attendees annually. Originally conceived by retired Milwaukee Public Library librarian George Wagner after he attended similar events in other cities, the Historic Milwaukee-organized event has been led by a string of dedicated women including former HMI executive director Anna-Marie Opgenorth, Amy Grau and now Grace Fuhr.

Saturday and Sunday the majority of those 30,000 attendees will head downtown and freely wander into virtually all of the city’s marquee buildings. But now that the event is in year six, what’s left to see for regular attendees? Downtown offers a number of must-see locations for first-timers ranging from stunning views at Catholic Financial Life Building on the west to the US Bank Center on the east, with bridges, theaters, libraries and courthouses in-between. The city, however, has much more to offer.

1. Bridging The Gap Golf Learning Center

Golf might be the most suburban sport imaginable, but it turns out there is a non-profit golf facility located in the middle of Milwaukee. Stop by to practice putting and learn about the mission of this unique facility. Learn more.

2. La Lune Collection

Riverwest is best known for bars, restaurants, and blocks of classic Milwaukee homes. Hidden on the neighborhood’s north end is manufacturer La Lune Collection making hand-made, rustic furniture. Learn more.

3. St. Joan of Arc Chapel

One of the oldest building’s in the United States is hidden in the middle of the Marquette University campus. Learn the store of how Marquette acquired the building in 1964 and what it took to move the building here from France. Learn more.

4. Islamic Society of Wisconsin

Step inside Wisconsin’s largest Islamic facility. Originally built as a public school, this facility is now a cultural and religious hub. Learn more.

5. City of Milwaukee / Waukesha County Materials Recovery Facility

The garbage and recycling trucks empty bin after bin, but where does it go? See where the contents of your recycling bin end up before they’re turned into more cans of Diet Coke and plastic bottles.

6. Milwaukee Makerspace

Located just off Bay View’s main street (S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) an unassuming facility houses some of Milwaukee’s most creative makers. See the continually improving makerspace where a diverse group of makers have assembled a dream workshop for the urban dweller. Learn more.

7. Finney Arts Incubator

Milwaukee’s library system is undergoing a dramatic transformation, and a big part of that is replacing building’s built in the 1950’s. See progress on a renovation that will transform the former Finney Library into a arts and business incubator. Learn more.

8. Anderson Municipal Building

Originally built as the Town of Lake water tower and municipal building, the south side building is now home to offices for the Department of Neighborhood Services. See inside this landmark and admire a stunning view of Milwaukee’s south side. Learn more.

9. Sherman Park Senior Living Community

See how a public-private partnership was able to transform a surplus Milwaukee Public Schools building, the former Jackie Robinson Middle School, into a gorgeous apartment building for seniors. Learn more.

10. Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility

Similar to the materials recovery facility, the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility deals with our waste. If you’ve ever wondered what happens after you flush, this is the stop for you. Guided tours are included, and you’ll certainly learn a lot. Learn more.

11. Irish Cultural and Heritage Center

I’m a sucker for Richardsonian Romanesque architecture, so this building has always piqued my interest. Originally built in 1887 by famed Milwaukee architect Edward Townsend Mix as the Grand Avenue Congregational Church, the building now is a hub for Milwaukee’s Irish heritage. Learn more.

Keep Exploring

This list is far from a complete list of everything you should visit during Doors Open Milwaukee. By all means, if you haven’t hit the hot spots Downtown, do so. Adept attendees will find they can easily exhaust this list in a day.

What are you looking forward to seeing?

For more information on the event, visit

Categories: Doors Open, Real Estate

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