Scholars dig in and celebrate ground-breaking of new house

Steve Rushin

A decade of waiting ended as a year of construction began Monday when ground was broken for the Evan Scholars’ house on the corner of 14th and Wells streets.

Nearly 50 people huddled beneath a red and white tent as a light rain fell on the parking lot that will become the site of the Evans Scholars’ home. The spectators gathered to mark the end of many years spent seeking a new residence of the organization.

Rex Bruno, president of the Western Golf Association, which operates the Evans Scholars’ program, addressed the group.

“We’ve been trying for many years to find a safe location for another house,” Bruno said. “For 10 years we couldn’t.”

The Rev. John P. Raynor, S.J., president of Marquette University, joined Bruno and others with gold-painted shovels to take the ceremonial scoops of asphalt from the ground.

The two-story, brick-and-stone house will cost $800,000 to build and is scheduled to be completed in about a year. The WGA is seeking to fund the project with donations.

Monday also marks the end of some student parking spaces.

“(The site) has been important as a parking lot,” said Dan Schmidt, faculty adviser to the Evans Scholars and assistant to Edward Simmons, vice president for academic affairs.

Schmidt, whom many of the Evans Scholars credited with making the project a reality, said it took many groups long years to make the groundbreaking possible.

The City of Milwaukee’s Committee of Redevelopment and Marquette worked with the WGA in selecting and obtaining that present site.

The Evans Scholars had lived in an estate near 30th Street and Highland Boulevard, and currently occupy one-and-a-half floors of the YMCA.

The new building will house as many as 56 students, with separate facilities for 12 women.

Architects from the Milwaukee firm of Shepherd, Legan and Aldrich, designers of the home, also attended the ceremony.

Though the 31,000-foot lot sits barren – except for a few cars and a large pothole – it will become the new Evan Scholars’ house in the next year.

“We hope you’re very happy in your new home,” Raynor told the audience.