Jeramey Jannene
Eyes on Milwaukee

Five Doors Open Milwaukee Recommendations

You won't want to miss these five stops as you explore Milwaukee this weekend.

By - Sep 24th, 2021 06:38 pm
The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee in 2019. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Doors Open Milwaukee is back for its 11th year this weekend, and with that it’s time to make that list and check it twice. The free event throws open the doors to dozens of buildings across the city on both Saturday, Sept. 25 and Sunday, Sept. 26.

This year’s event will no doubt look different than those before it. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed events, forcing last year’s Doors Open to a virtual-only format and introducing new requirements this year of masks or vaccines (depending on the venue).

Here are five places you shouldn’t miss in your annual two-day binge of Milwaukee’s built environment. Don’t want to get off the couch? A number of venues are virtual only, and even some offering in-person visits have a virtual component. You can see all the venues and any other event details on the event website.

Bradley Symphony Center

You won’t want to miss the Bradley Symphony Center. Nor will you want to leave your proof of vaccination at home. The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra is welcoming visitors into the redeveloped Warner Grand Theatre on Sunday. See how the $89 million music hall was created in a former movie theater.

212 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Sunday only – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Proof of vaccination required

Milwaukee City Hall

Mayor Tom Barrett presents his 2020 budget to the Milwaukee Common Council. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Mayor Tom Barrett presents his 2020 budget to the Milwaukee Common Council. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

When it comes to iconic buildings in Milwaukee, none are more so than Milwaukee City Hall. It was, by certain categorizations, the tallest building in the world when it was finished. And though more than a dozen buildings in Milwaukee alone now eclipse it, its slender stature and prized location at N. Water St. and E. Wells St. keep it visible from far around. Step inside and see the eight-story rotunda, but also make sure to head to the south end of the third floor to see the Common Council chambers (normally only open to the public during full council meetings). Can you find the chair where this humble scribe sits for hours on end?

200 E. Wells St.
Saturday only – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Model Railroad Club of Milwaukee

A Doors Open staple by now, but if you’ve never been you must go. The club has operated out of the location since 1936, and the location itself has a connection to the club – it’s a former train station. Built in 1916 underneath the Milwaukee Road mainline into the Everett Street Depot and Menomonee Valley, the station was known as Allis Station for the nearby employer that was the source of many passengers. Much of the train station’s architectural detailing remains, including subway tiles that frame the ticket counter and waiting room, complementing the large model railroad layout that fills the space.

215 E. National Ave.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Sanger House Gardens

Sanger House Gardens. Photo courtesy of Sanger House Gardens.

Sanger House Gardens. Photo courtesy of Sanger House Gardens.

A house that is as interesting outside as it is inside. Built in 1871 for Casper Sanger, current owners Stephen J. Bialik and Angela Buckert have restored the Cream City brick home and added a substantial garden on the vacant lot to the south. The garden complements the Italianate home and makes a wonderful spot for small events, or an overnight stay at one of the two Airbnb units on the grounds.

1823 N. Palmer St.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Zimmerman Architectural Studios

The City Lights complex is an oft-overlooked architectural gem in the Menomonee Valley. Designed by famed architect Alexander Eschweiler, the buildings have been repurposed as a home for a variety of tenants including Zimmerman Architectural Studios and City Lights Brewing. Originally a gas plant, the building Zimmerman occupies features high ceilings, exposed brick and woodwork and a lofted office plan. You can stop in at Zimmerman either day, and on your way out grab a cold one at City Lights.

2122 W. Mount Vernon Ave.
Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

If you think stories like this are important, become a member of Urban Milwaukee and help support real, independent journalism. Plus you get some cool added benefits, all detailed here.

Leave a Reply

You must be an Urban Milwaukee member to leave a comment. Membership, which includes a host of perks, including an ad-free website, tickets to marquee events like Summerfest, the Wisconsin State Fair and the Florentine Opera, a better photo browser and access to members-only, behind-the-scenes tours, starts at $9/month. Learn more.

Join now and cancel anytime.

If you are an existing member, sign-in to leave a comment.

Have questions? Need to report an error? Contact Us