Milwaukee Unhinged: Doors Open Milwaukee returns with tours of more than 125 venues
- Teams to watch at this weekend’s WFTDA Roller Derby Championships
- Nick Sanborn explores collaboration, playing well with others with Lend Me Your Voice
- Drinking our way through Milwaukee’s airport (and airport-themed) bars
- Cinco de MONDO LUCHA! Milwaukee’s alternative variety show celebrates five years of masked mayhem
- The A.V. Club’s guide to the 2013 Milwaukee LGBT Film/Video Festival
Milwaukee, let’s face facts: When it comes to experiencing notable local landmarks, most of us have barely scratched the surface. Sure, the Milwaukee Art Museum is stunning, Miller Park is a great baseball venue, and it’s hard to beat The Riverside for live music. But even the most hardcore born-and-raised residents are probably clueless when it comes the stories behind the buildings we pass by every day.
That all changes this weekend, thanks to Historic Milwaukee, Inc. Its third annual Doors Open event pops the locks on more than 125 spaces throughout the city this Saturday and Sunday, inviting those of us with a sense of adventure to peek behind the scenes of familiar places, and to get outside our comfort zone by visiting the literal building blocks of Milwaukee. The A.V. Club is planning to hit as many spots as possible, and here provides just a taste of what’s in store this weekend. All you really need is a healthy sense of curiosity. Oh, and a fully charged smartphone, because, you know, Instagram gold.
St. Joseph Convent Chapel, 1501 S. Layton Blvd.
What to expect: While the Doors Open weekend boasts more than a few opportunities to check out Milwaukee’s many beautiful and historic churches, it’s hard to pass up the chance to tour this nearly century-old Romanesque Revival chapel.
Why we’re going: Architects Peter Brust and Richard Philipp took to heart the notion that artwork and music are “integral to spiritual life,” so the sights and acoustics are excellent. As if the gorgeous stained glass, marble, and mosaics weren’t enough, Milwaukee’s leading historian and overall badass John Gurda will speak to those who purchase separate tickets for his lecture.
Gas Light Building, 626 E. Wisconsin Ave.
What to expect: This is the surefire crowd-pleaser of the weekend, with tours of one of the most iconic buildings in the region. Built in 1920, you’ll see why the Gas Light is more than just a flame; it’s an Art Deco masterpiece.
Why we’re going: In addition to 17th-story views of Lake Michigan and downtown, architecturally there’s not much chance to experience anything else like it, from the marble wainscoting to the intricate bronze metalwork. But quite frankly, the main reason we’re going is because there’s no way we’re missing out on registering to win a rare tour of the flame itself.
Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear, 839 N. 11th St.
What to expect: This historic house is a living artifact, with a mind-blowingly extensive collection of Milwaukee memorabilia. On a rotating basis, each room painstakingly re-creates a different bygone locale from the period between the World Wars.
Why we’re going: This is our Doors Open wildcard, as we can’t miss the opportunity to get schooled on city history while immersing ourselves in Abe Chudnow’s lifelong labor of love for preserving Milwaukee’s past. Defy the space-time continuum itself as you enter The Speakeasy, Union Station, Bay View Pharmacy, and more.
Golda Meir School, 1555 N. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr.
What to expect: Built in 1890 (and still in use by MPS for their urban gifted and talented program), the then Fourth Street School was attended by one of our city’s most prominent residents, the woman for which the building is currently named, with memorabilia highlighting the former Israeli Prime Minister’s life throughout the school.
Why we’re going: Here’s a chance to literally walk in the footsteps of history, as this is one of the last buildings in Milwaukee associated with Mrs. Meir still standing. Her story aside, the architecture itself is worth your time, with a style that fits right in with other early-20th century standouts like City Hall and the Pfister Hotel.
Blue Dress Park, SW corner of N. Holton St. & Reservoir St.
What to expect: This venue is intriguing in that A) it’s always open, and B) there’s nothing here but a concrete slab. But credit to the Friends of Blue Dress Park for inviting you to imagine the possibilities of a space located on the boundaries of Brewers Hill, Riverwest, and Downtown.
Why we’re going: The park will be hopping on Saturday as individuals compete for the Blue Dress Cup, an Olympic-style competition to determine “The Best Artist in Milwaukee.” No way we’re missing that coronation, nor the fine view of the heart of our fair city.
Doors Open Milwaukee is this Saturday and Sunday, September 21-22. Complete information on the free tours is at doorsopenmilwaukee.org. You’re highly encouraged to visit the site in advance for ticketing information and hours for each individual venue.