Ever wondered if the pool on top of the Catholic Financial Life building was real? What is the purpose of the 707 Hub? Why is the 310W Building bright blue? These questions will be answered during Historic Milwaukee, Inc.’s Doors Open Milwaukee event Sept. 28-29.
Grace Fuhr, events director of Historic Milwaukee, said the organization encourages the public to visit spaces it could not normally have access to and to appreciate the architecture, heritage and neighborhood.
Fuhr said the event started when a Historic Milwaukee volunteer visited similar events in both Toronto and Denver. At the time, those were the only two places in North America to host such open door events.
Last year the Milwaukee event had over 170 buildings open and about 31,000 people attend different sites. Every year, Doors Open Milwaukee also highlights a specific neighborhood. This year it is putting its focus on Avenues West, including buildings on or near Marquette’s campus such as the 707 Hub and Catholic Financial life.
Keeley Hayden, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said she plans to attend Doors Open Milwaukee with her dad.
“There are a lot of buildings you drive (past) that aren’t usually open to the public, so it’ll be a good opportunity to go see (those) places,” Hayden said.
Hayden and her dad tried going together last year but he had to work. Instead, they made it their mission to go this year.
With so many places open to the public, Doors Open is a great opportunity to get off campus, experience the historic side of Milwaukee and appreciate the city. Below are a few places that students can go and explore.
Catholic Financial Life
A visit to the Catholic Financial Life building will include a tour of the All Saints private chapel and the rooftop, which is home to the city’s only rooftop pool and deck. John Borgen, senior vice president of Catholic Financial Life and a Marquette alumnus, said the building’s rooftop provides a unique opportunity to see an unobstructed panoramic view of the city from the Hoan Bridge to the spires of the Church of the Gesu. Catholic Financial Life has office space, but it also houses studios and one-bedroom apartments which are especially popular with Marquette graduate students.
The 707 Hub makes this list due to the regular questions about the building’s function from people who drive past on a daily basis. Kelsey Otero, the associate director for social innovation at Marquette, said the 707 Hub used to be an old bank but is now an innovative area for students. It provides resources, mentoring, funding and a creative space for students to get plugged into, whether they have an interest in social change or entrepreneurship. There will be self-guided tours where the public can learn about innovation resources available at Marquette as well as how the university helps students develop entrepreneurial skill sets.
St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church
For those interested in architecture, the St. George Melkite Greek Catholic Church is the place to visit. The building features Milwaukee Cream City brick and onion domes. Architect Erhard Brielmaier designed the church to fit Milwaukee’s landscape while thinking of the founding Syrian and Lebanese families in the community. There will be an exhibit where Milwaukee community members can learn about the story that brought the Melkites, a religious community, to Milwaukee.
Tower Theater and Mobile Design Box
Gustave Dick and Alex Bauer designed both this building and the Oriental Theatre for Saxe Amusement Enterprises in the 1920s. Melissa Muller, the art curator for the Mobile Design Box, said those who attend will get to see the actual movie theater, which is typically closed to the public. They can also see the exhibit “Evicted,” which is based off Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer prize winning book titled Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. It is the exhibit’s last weekend in Milwaukee.
The structure is one of the newer buildings in the area, completed in 1983. It is 14 stories high and cobalt blue, and includes amenities such as a skylight, fitness center and communal game area. Doors Open also hosts a photo contest with this building. In order to enter, a photo of the participant must be taken in the atrium of the building, tagged with the hashtags #310W and #doorsopenmke for a chance to win a $200 gift certificate to the Capital Grille, as well as the opportunity to take a selfie in the all-white 310W ball pit.
88Nine Radio Milwaukee
Visitors will get a behind the scenes tour of the building’s green roof, recording studios and the performance area where local and national bands perform.
Adventure Rock Milwaukee
During Doors Open Milwaukee, Adventure Rock Milwaukee will let people come see its unique structure for the climbing walls as well as a peek behind the walls. People can also learn about the sport of rock climbing and try it for free themselves.
The Ambassador Hotel is a Milwaukee favorite for weddings due to its extravagant interior, which includes marble floors and bronze elevators. The rooms were reconfigured for more space and new bathrooms were put in during the ’90s. Most of the original architecture and design elements were kept. During the event, historical presentations on the building will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Black Cat Alley
A destination full of street art, this location has about 25 murals created by about 20 different artists. During the event there will be food trucks, performances and more to celebrate the three-year anniversary of the alley.
Firehouse Station 1
This is the oldest company in the Milwaukee Fire Department. Visitors can expect a tour of the building and a chance to talk to some of the firefighters. They can also see pictures of old crews and fire engines.
Grain Exchange Room at the Mackie Building
With its high ceilings and painted frescoes, there is an Italian-style architecture design to this building. It is said to be linked with the early commercial history of Milwaukee in which the city, for a short time, was big in the wheat marketing industry.
The full list of Doors Open Milwaukee locations can be found on the Historic Milwaukee, Inc. website under the “Doors Open” tab.
Some buildings may have restricted hours, but the general open times run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.