Welcome To My Blog

Weekends are for wandering Wisconsin. That's what Rick, my guy, and I do. Occasionally we wander during the week, too. Sometimes we just drop in on other people's lives.

This blog is my way of sharing where we've been, neat places and things to do that we've found.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Knock, Knock! Who's there?

Doors Open Milwaukee. 

For the second year in a row Rick and I took a look behind the facades of several buildings in Milwaukee during Historic Milwaukee's most ambitious project, the third annual Doors Open Milwaukee. For 35 years, HMI has been increasing awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee's history, architecture, and the preservation of the city's built environment through education and advocacy.

Our first stop was the Milwaukee Fire Museum. We viewed pictures of major Milwaukee fires and learned more about how the conflagrations were brought under control. A retired fire fighter, who is a docent at the Museum, demonstrated the operation of a fire alarm box that could be found on Milwaukee's street corners in the past. Now those alarms can only be accessed by police.
A 1947 Cadillac ambulance is on exhibit at the Fire Museum.
Our next stop was Forest Home Cemetery. The cemetery takes up nearly 20 city blocks - 200 acres. A beautiful setting in the middle of the city. Of course, when the first person was buried in 1850, the cemetery was well removed from the hustle and bustle of city life. About 110, 000 people are buried in Forest Home. Many of them are the early movers and shakers of Milwaukee, like the brewers whose names we associate with the city. 
Valentin Blatz has the largest monument in Forest Home.
But ostentatiousness doesn't guarantee good beer!
Joseph Schlitz was a little more circumspect.
Still no guarantee of good beer.

One of the neat features at Forest Home is the Hall of History with more than 100 displays that honor the memories and accomplishments of more famous Milwaukeans who chose Forest Home as their final resting place. 

The chapel on the cemetery grounds along with the cemetery itself are both on the National Register of Historic Places as well as being Milwaukee landmarks. The 1896 crematory in the lower level of the chapel was the first in Wisconsin. 
An elevator would carry the casket from the chapel's sanctuary to the crematory
in the basement. It is no longer used today.
Bryant's Cocktail Lounge is one of the best preserved cocktail lounges in the country. Originally a Miller Brewing tied house, Bryant’s is now recognized for specialty cocktails. Velvet walls and dim lighting are its characteristics. 
A booth wall at Bryant's
And a ceiling light

Tied houses, in the past, were required to sell only the products of the brewery to which they were "tied."

But, Mike Brenner, an up and coming brewer, won't be limited when he distributes his beer. Mike opened his building, a cinder block parking garage built in 1980, to the public. He is converting the building into the Brenner Brewing Company and it will be Milwaukee's newest craft brewery when it opens in about four months. 
Mike has been a home brewer since the 1990s. Now he's
going commercial. Armed with an MBA, a diploma as a
Master Brewer from Chicago's Siebel Institute of Technology,
and past experience running his own businesses, Mike plans to open
a tasting room and art gallery next door to the brewery.
Mike told us the total project will have $1.6 million invested when
everything is up and running.
Mike will brew a specialty beer, more like a liqueur, that will be aged for 6 months in these barrels.
The Old South Side Settlement Museum is interpreted well. Several different ethnic groups settled on Milwaukee's south side over the years. Each room of this house museum shows how the furnishings changed with the occupancy of each group. 
The upside down Christmas tree is in the Polish living
room. Because homes were small, a tree hanging from the
ceiling didn't take up any floor space!
Children played in a room under the stairs that led to the upstairs. 
The Mexican family who moved into the house in the early 1950s was the first Hispanic family in the neighborhood. They were Milwaukee Braves fans as evidenced by Braves' banners displayed in one of the cabinets. Now Milwaukee's south side is predominantly Hispanic.
The kitchen is bright and cheery.
We're looking forward to next year's Doors Open Milwaukee when we will have an opportunity to knock on a door in the city and have it open for us.

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