Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Share Your Vision for The Future of Soldiers Home

February 12th deadline to offer feedback.

By - Feb 11th, 2021 11:19 am
Soldiers Home Chapel. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Soldiers Home Chapel. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The signature building at Soldiers Home, Old Main, will see new life in March as a supportive housing complex for homeless veterans. But others might not be so lucky.

The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance is leading an effort to preserve more of the Civil War-era complex and is now looking for ideas as part of a broader study. A survey asks for suggestions on how to repurpose Ward Memorial Hall, Soldiers Home Chapel and the Governor’s Mansion.

Located at 5000 W. National Ave. near American Family Field, Soldiers Home has been the subject of a large-scale preservation effort led by the preservation alliance and National Trust for Historic Preservation. But a late 2018 request for proposals to redevelop three long-vacant buildings didn’t find any qualified bidders.

The preservation alliance is now leading a $15,000 effort to study potential reuse options for the buildings. The National Trust provided a $5,000 matching grant.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs owns the complex with the modern Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center fronting W. National Ave. The VA still uses some of the Soldiers Home buildings, including one with a bowling alley. The preservation alliance, led by executive director Jeremy Ebersole, hopes the study will encourage the VA to issue another request for proposals for the three buildings.

“We are thrilled to embark on this effort to study ways to save these three remarkable buildings that are a vital part of our community’s history and can be a vital part of our future,” said Ebersole in a release announcing the survey.

“Public input and involvement was a crucial part of the successful effort to restore Old Main to the service of veterans and will be equally important as we work to find ways to save these three historic buildings,” said Dawn McCarthy, MPA board president emeritus.

MPA hired a team of consultants to work on the study. Miller Dunwiddie is leading the effort, with support from Allume ArchitectsAlexander CompanyJP Cullen, and Nissley Environmental Consultants

Alexander and contractor JP Cullen now have extensive knowledge of the complex. Cullen is finishing up work for Alexander on a $43.8 million redevelopment effort which will see the four-story Old Main, constructed for returning Civil War veterans, become 80 apartments. Another 21 apartments will be spread across three duplexes, the former chaplain’s residence and former Soldiers Home administration building. The units will be solely for veterans that were homeless or at-risk for homelessness, with supportive services provided by a partnership led by the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee.

Survey responses are due February 12th. Donations are also being accepted on the Save the Soldiers Home website.

Ward Memorial Hall


Governor’s Mansion

Video Tours

Old Main Exterior

Old Main Interior

Administration Building

May Exterior Photos


2 thoughts on “Eyes on Milwaukee: Share Your Vision for The Future of Soldiers Home”

  1. Jaimcb says:

    I’m happy to add my two cents. Here’s a great opportunity to expand programs, creative wraparound services, for vets suffering from mental health conditions. Let’s develop Ward Memorial Hall as a functional classroom for the arts—music, theater, musical theater, theater arts, sound and light technology, etc. Why not?

  2. lccfccoop2 says:

    All good ideas! Focus definitely should be on serving vets…

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