DOORS OPEN MILWAUKEE is Historic Milwaukee’s most ambitious project. As a nonprofit organization, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. has been dedicated to increasing awareness of and commitment to Milwaukee’s history, architecture and the preservation of its built environment through education and advocacy since 1974. The fourth annual Doors Open Milwaukee event opened the doors to over 150 wonderful buildings free-of-charge to the public. Buildings that hold hidden treasures and special stories...from churches to office buildings to theaters to work sites...museums to hotels to clubs to universities. All sites of historic, architectural, cultural or commercial interest.
Day One of Doors Open Milwaukee found me at the "definitely no cameras allowed inside" Milwaukee Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse. There, after a brief walk through metal detectors, we entered the huge and spacious atrium. We were briefed on the history of the Courthouse and its remodeling. From there, we got the chance to visit three courtrooms...The Ceremonial Court Room, the Historical Court Room and the Centennial Court Room. The Ceremonial Court Room was the biggest of the three, with its original clock on the wall and small busts of former Presidents John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln. The Historical Court Room was remodeled from scratch, and looked spectacular! As the sun shined through the windows, you could see the excellent wood finishing and sparkling light fixtures. Next stop was The Wisconsin Gas Light Building. From the observatory roof, I saw great views of downtown Milwaukee and nice views of other parts of the city in the distance. From there I went to the US Bank Center, whose observatory deck is normally closed to the public. The views were great, but slightly obscured by the architecture of the building itself. I was still glad I went, though. The Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge was raised during Doors Open, and visitors witnessed how the bridge is operated from the bridgehouse attendant. From there, I went to the Polaris Revolving Rooftop Restaurant atop the Hyatt Regency Milwaukee. There were more spectacular views as the restaurant revolved slowly for excellent 360 degree photography. While leaving the East exit, I saw an interesting plaque signifying the Hyatt site as the place of an attempted assassination attempt on the life of then-President Theodore Roosevelt. The Milwaukee Central Library was my next stop. I had been there before, but I was still marveled at photographing the atrium and high ceiling again. This building is a great piece of work! Next up was Calvary Presbyterian Church(also known as the big red church). An interesting thing about Calvary is that all of the pues were removed showcasing the nice hard wood floors. I found the Church to be very warm and spiritual. It also had a sense of calm about it. My last stop of the day was visiting 88NINE Radio Milwaukee. We toured the offices of 88NINE, visited with an on-air personality and was told about the history and different song formats at the station. There was also a really cool old-school Philco radio in the lobby. We ended that visit with walking up the stairs to see the "green" roof.