Council Passes Gettelman Deal That Will Save One Building, Demolish Others
MillerCoors will demolish historic brewery structures featured prominently in their marketing.
Save a single building, all of the remaining unrenovated Gettelman Brewery buildings will be razed. On Tuesday morning the Milwaukee Common Council passed a compromise historic designation that allows MillerCoors to demolish or relocate the historic structures at 4400 W. State St. to create more space for parking.
MillerCoors is seeking to raze the buildings, which are featured in the logo for Icehouse beer, as part of their “State Street Yard Reconfiguration Project.” Among other efficiency improvements in the project, the brewing giant intends to turn land occupied by the historic structures into 70 employee parking spaces.
The building that is proposed to be saved will be relocated across W. State St. to the south side of the street. That will place the structure, a house-turned-office dating back to 1856, near the brewery’s visitor center. A future use for the facility has yet to be identified. MillerCoors will need to apply to the Historic Preservation Commission for a certificate of appropriateness to move the building.
The city’s Historic Preservation Commission had earlier this year approved a permanent historic designation for the complex. However, Tuesday’s action by the council, which was triggered by an appeal by MillerCoors, overrules the preservation commission’s designation.
Alderman Nik Kovac opposed the compromise proposal at committee, noting “I don’t think I’ve seen a worse case made for economic hardship. The hardship is employee convenience.” He argued that the matter should be held and MillerCoors should return to the Historic Preservation Commission with the compromise. “Why would you not at least want the experts to give us a recommendation on the nuances of a complicated proposal?” Kovac asked. He was the lone dissenting vote on the committee, with the measure passing 4-to-1.
The measure unanimously passed the full Common Council, with Kovac noting in an interview with Urban Milwaukee that voting against the approved amendment at council wouldn’t have helped preserve any of the buildings. Ald. Robert Bauman, who sits on the preservation commission and voted for the permanent designation, also voted for the compromise measure.
The compromise proposal by MillerCoors was supported by Ald. Michael Murphy, whose district encompasses the Gettelman buildings, and Ald. Russell W. Stamper, II, whose district includes the majority of the brewery.
According to a historic designation study by city staffer Carlen Hatala, Fritz Gettelman, who became president of the brewery in 1929, invented a number of innovations in the home, including a steam brush bottle washer, glass lined storage container, ice cutter and farm tillage machine.
The larger of the two buildings served as a malt house for Gettelman and was later used as a warehouse by Miller. It has been vacant for a number of years. A beer cellar, used before modern refrigeration was invented, is located beneath the building. That building, along with a 1940’s addition to the home, may now be demolished by MillerCoors.
The company has adaptively reused three other former Gettelman buildings as a fitness center, company store and warehouse. Miller Brewing acquired the neighboring Gettelman in 1961 and fully merged the brewery into their operations in 1970.
The original nomination for the complex’s designation came from preservation advocate and Amaranth Bakery owner Dave Boucher after MillerCoors applied to demolish the structures.
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More about the Gettelman Brewery Buildings
- Eyes on Milwaukee: MillerCoors Won’t Move Gettelman House - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 27th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: MillerCoors Razes Historic Gettelman Building - Jeramey Jannene - Aug 16th, 2018
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Passes Gettelman Deal That Will Save One Building, Demolish Others - Jeramey Jannene - Sep 27th, 2017
- Miller Compromises on Gettelman Brewery - Graham Kilmer - Sep 21st, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Gettelman Buildings Saved for Now - Jeramey Jannene - May 16th, 2017
- Eyes on Milwaukee: Gettelman Brewery Buildings Saved - Jeramey Jannene - Apr 25th, 2017
- Op Ed: Save the Gettelman Brewery Buildings - Leonard P. Jurgensen - Apr 20th, 2017
Read more about Gettelman Brewery Buildings here
Political Contributions Tracker
Displaying political contributions between people mentioned in this story. Learn more.
- March 22, 2017 - Robert Bauman received $250 from Brian Randall
- May 12, 2016 - Robert Bauman received $150 from Brian Randall
- March 31, 2016 - Michael Murphy received $50 from Brian Randall
- March 21, 2016 - Russell W. Stamper, II received $150 from Brian Randall
- February 14, 2016 - Robert Bauman received $250 from Brian Randall
- February 3, 2016 - Nik Kovac received $100 from Brian Randall
- November 18, 2015 - Nik Kovac received $100 from Brian Randall
- March 12, 2015 - Robert Bauman received $136 from Brian Randall
- August 27, 2014 - Robert Bauman received $250 from Brian Randall
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3 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Council Passes Gettelman Deal That Will Save One Building, Demolish Others”
How sad. A freaking parking lot for 70 cars? Glad I don’t drink their swill.
Tony, same here. History destroyed for parking spaces? I thought Milwaukee had woken up after so many irreplacable historic buildings were torn down during the blindness of the 1960s through the 1970s. Once they’re gone, they’re gone forever.
While MillerCoors is claiming that their market is growing, they claim that they NEED to tear down part of the Gettelman complex because of “economic hardship.” Last I checked, MillerCoors had a net income well over $1 billion. What a flimsy baldfaced lie of “economic hardship.”
I’m glad I don’t drink MillerCoors watery beers. They are claiming they are purchasing some “craft” beer makers. I’m looking into other products they make so that I will not purchase them.
Actually, Ald. Kovac noted that the touted parking to be created sounded hugely inflated, based on the building’s footprint. It’s probably more like 10-20 cars–and extra parking is only needed in peak summer.
It should be noted that neither Alds. Murphy nor Stamper showed any real leadership on this, nor understanding of the potential economic value of preservation. Instead they seemed to buy Miller’s “hardship” story hook, line and sinker.
And then they pitched demolition of all but a token set-piece remnant as a “compromise”–when it was the whole complex and especially the unique-in-Milwaukee (and nearly in all the Midwest) lagering cellars that HPC unanimously recommended should be preserved.
The lack of vision on the council is beyond sad.