Five favorites for Doors Open Milwaukee

Doors Open Milwaukee was held Saturday and Sunday, September 19th and 20th. About 200 locations, many normally closed to the public, were open for visitors. Here are five of my favorite places to visit during this annual event.

1. Former Pabst Brewery

Although the area is undergoing rapid development, some of the original Pabst buildings remain. Photo illustration by Carl Swanson

Although the area is undergoing rapid redevelopment, some of the original Pabst buildings remain. Photo by Carl Swanson

Tour a speakeasy (actually, the former plant infirmary and ancient storage tunnels) at the Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery, 901 W. Juneau Ave. The speakeasy is open if the red jelly jar light is illuminated at the doorway marked “J.C. Haertel Real Estate & Financial Consulting.” The Pabst Brewing Co. was the subject of this Milwaukee Notebook post.

2. Jones Island sewage plant

It's also an inexplicably popular destination for school trips. Carl Swanson photo

A young visitor checks out the Milorganite plant on Johns Island. Carl Swanson photo

Board a motor coach for either a 30-minute or 60-minute tour of the Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility. A National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark, the plant led the way in modern wastewater treatment. The 60-minute tour is the most interesting, as it includes the Milorganite fertilizer plant. Meet at 700 E. Jones St. (Closed-toe shoes and long pants required to tour the Milorganite facility.) The treatment plant was mentioned in this Milwaukee Notebook post.

3. Calvary Cemetery Chapel

Milwaukee Calvary Cemetery Chapel exterior view, east side of building

The Calvary Cemetery Chapel and its subterranean crypt was open for visitors during Doors Open Milwaukee. Photo by Carl Swanson

Calvary Cemetery Chapel, 5503 W. Blue Mound Rd., is atop the highest point in the cemetery. Built of Cream City brick, the chapel was designed by Erhard Brielmaier in 1899. It was nearly torn down, but a dedicated group of volunteers is now hard at work restoring the building to its former glory. Be sure to check out the lower level mausoleum. The Calvary Cemetery Chapel is the subject of this Milwaukee Notebook post.

While you’re at the cemetery, pay your respects at the grave of fur trapper and Milwaukee founder Solomon Juneau. Juneau is featured in this Milwaukee Notebook post. Not only that, you can visit the grave of the cemetery’s one and only Confederate veteran of the Civil War. You can read about him, and why he may not actually be a Confederate, in this blog post.

4. St. James Episcopal Church

St. James Episcopal Church, Milwaukee, WI

St. James Episcopal Church was built on an enviable site in downtown Milwaukee. Located on Wisconsin Avenue, construction of the church involved removing a cemetery. Carl Swanson photo

Opposite the downtown Public Library at 833 W. Wisconsin Ave., St. James Episcopal Church occupies the site of a pioneer cemetery. Thought to be the oldest stone church in Milwaukee, it was built in 1867-68, reduced to smoldering shell in a 1872 fire, and rebuilt. It is one of the great worship spaces in Milwaukee and, rumor has it, still has a few tombstones down in the cellar from that former cemetery. The church is the subject of this blog post.

5. Milwaukee City Hall

Milwaukee City Hall postcard

Milwaukee’s City Hall, a civic landmark since 1895. The bell tower is 353 feet tall. Carl Swanson collection

When built in 1895, City Hall was the third-tallest building in the country at the time. Milwaukee’s Common Council chamber, the Mayor’s Office, and the bell tower (ticket holders only) will be open for visitors. This is also the headquarters for Door Open, so get there early to pick up free special tour tickets and Doors Open merchandise. If you make a small donation to the mayor’s Earn and Learn Fund, you can even have your picture taken sitting at the mayor’s desk. The gigantic bell in the City Hall tower is the subject of this Milwaukee Notebook post.Carl_sig


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