Milwaukee Preservation Alliance
Press Release

Milwaukee Preservation Alliance Honored by Wisconsin Historical Society

MPA’s decade-long effort to Save the Soldiers Home receives Historic Preservation Award

By - Jul 28th, 2021 10:44 am

MILWAUKEE – The Wisconsin Historical Society’s Board of Curators recently honored the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) with its Historic Preservation Award. The prestigious award was given to MPA in recognition of the organization’s decade-long Save the Soldiers Home effort, which was marked by a major victory this spring after a complex and comprehensive rehabilitation project returned six historic buildings, including the iconic Old Main, to the service of veterans as 101 units of permanent supportive housing for homeless and at-risk veterans and their families.

“This award reinforces the incredible historical and architectural value of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home,” said Peter Zanghi, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance President. “We are proud to celebrate this award with our many partners as we build upon the momentum of this remarkable preservation project and seek to return even more threatened Soldiers Home buildings to the service of veterans.”

The award recognizes the most significant work in protecting a threatened historic property in Wisconsin including commendable community and individual efforts such as advocacy, fund raising, physical stabilization, and repair. It also takes into consideration the degree to which projects have overcome a significant tangible threat and the degree to which efforts have been made to ensure the future protection of the property.

“The annual Board of Curators Awards acknowledges those who have gone above and beyond to preserve and share Wisconsin history,” said Christian Overland, the Ruth and Hartley Barker Director & CEO for the Wisconsin Historical Society. “Knowledge of the past allows us to better understand the world around us and provides useful insight for navigating today’s challenges. The organizations and individuals selected to receive awards this year each made important contributions to history that ensure future generations can access the stories of our state’s past.”

To learn more about MPA’s Save the Soldiers Home effort, including its efforts to return additional endangered Soldiers Home buildings to the service of veterans, visit www.SavetheSoldiersHome.com.

ABOUT THE SAVE THE SOLDIERS HOME EFFORT

In 2011, MPA successfully nominated the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District to the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list, bringing national attention to the District and jumpstarting the preservation effort. The momentum from the designation spurred MPA’s work in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, National Park Service and others to create a framework and vision for rehabilitation of the Soldiers Home’s vacant buildings.

With a focus on engaging with local stakeholders, MPA and the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) partnered to create a Community Advisory Council (CAC) consisting of veterans, preservationists, elected officials, and business leaders. The group met regularly and created a consensus report outlining a vision for the Soldiers Home, which became a vital tool in MPA’s advocacy efforts.

Backed by the support and involvement of the CAC, MPA led outreach to educate the community about the Soldiers Home and raise awareness of the veteran needs that could be met through the rehabilitation of its buildings. Through MPA’s years of efforts, including the creation of a free downloadable walking tour app and an online learning resource, and building an extremely popular and active online following, MPA raised strong recognition of the Soldiers Home’s significance and built support for its rehabilitation.

MPA’s “Save the Soldiers Home” campaign reached a critical milestone when, in 2016, the Department of Veterans Affairs released a Request for Proposals (RFP) seeking responses from developers interested in rehabilitating a number of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District’s unused historic buildings. When a team led by The Alexander Company and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee was chosen by the VA, MPA stepped in to serve as the project’s fiscal agent, helping to fundraise and manage the $3 million capital campaign necessary to fill the project’s financing gap.

Thanks to The Alexander Company, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Center for Veterans Issues, and the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee, MPA’s vision became a reality with the unprecedented successful rehabilitation and reuse of Old Main and five other historic buildings as homeless veteran housing.

Encouraged by the success of the project, MPA has set its sights on three additional endangered Soldiers Home buildings: Ward Memorial Theater, the Soldiers Home Chapel and the Governor’s Mansion.

ABOUT MILWAUKEE PRESERVATION ALLIANCE, INC.:

Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, Inc. is a non-profit organization devoted to promoting stewardship and awareness of the historic, cultural, and economic value of Milwaukee’s built heritage. MPA aims to strengthen Milwaukee’s neighborhoods by advocating for and promoting their unique cultural spaces and architectural assets in order to foster a strong and vibrant community as well as demonstrating the link between historic preservation and viable economic development.

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Milwaukee Preservation Alliance Honored by Wisconsin Historical Society

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MPA launches effort to save the Chapel, Ward Memorial Theater and Governor’s Mansion with public survey and advocacy campaign

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