The Pere Marquette 18, a Pere Marquette Railroad car ferry in service hauling railroad cars between Ludington, Michigan and ports in Wisconsin, sank off the coast of Sheboygan 110 years ago, September 9, 1910. The sinking of the PM18 has been a mystery ever since. Witnesses said she suddenly went vertical, the stern went under with the bow in the air and just that fast, she was gone. At least 28 souls perished in the sinking, including two crew members of the Pere Marquette 17 that came to the aid of the PM 18. As a result of this sinking, car ferries were equipped with a sea wall to prevent lake water from capsizing the ferries at sea.
The location of the wreck was unknown until the summer of 2020 when she was found by two shipwreck hunters from Minnesota, Jerry Eliason and Ken Merryman. A fascinating article from Minnesota Public Radio describes the wreck according to contemporary reports and describes how the PM18 was located.
Only one of the fleet of 20th Century Lake Michigan car ferries is still in operation, the SS Badger out of Ludington, although it no longer carries railroad cars.
The wreck of the Pere Marquette 18 will undoubtedly soon be added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Toledo Harbor Lighthouse Preservation Society (THLPS) an all volunteer group, is investing $2.6 million into the restoration of the Toledo Harbor Lighthouse. The lighthouse was added to the National Register of Historic Places on August 4, 1983 under reference number 83002005.
According to the Toledo Business Journal, the group, an IRS 501(c)3 not for profit organization would like to restore the three story, Romanesque lighthouse to its original appearance. The lighthouse is not easily accessible. It is located 8.4 miles from the mouth of the Maumee River and marks the entrance to Toledo Harbor. It was built in 1901 by the Army Corps of Engineers on an artificial island, created by sinking a large crib, filling it with stone and topping it with concrete.
The crib was designed and construction supervised by the noted military engineer, Orlando Metcalfe Poe. He is most noted for his design and construction of the first Poe Lock at Sault St. Marie in 1896 and was the largest lock in the world at the time. It has since been extended to 1,200 feet and is the only lock at the Soo capable of handling the large freighters that pass through it. Poe was responsible for the building of several Great Lakes lighthouses.
According to THLPS when the restoration is complete, docents will offer tours in season.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is reporting in the foundation newsletter, The Whirling Arrow, that you have another chance to own a FLW design home. The 1941 Charles and Dorothy Manson House, located in Wausau, Wisconsin, is on the market. It was added to the NRHP in 2016. The property is listed for $425,000.00.
The Usonian design house has many FLW features, including red brick and red cyprus board and batten design that also carries into the house. Follow the link for more about the house and enjoy the photo essay that is a part of the article. There is also a link to the listing real estate agency.
JL Weiler, Inc. (Chicago) is reporting on Facebook that the restoration of the Orpheum Theater 1928 Wulritzer theater organ is nearing completion. According to their post, the original chambers have been reduced in size, increasing the sound quality of the organ. There is some final settings that need to be adjusted and the restoration will be completed.
Wurlitzer Organ Console, Orpheum Theater, Memphis. Photo by JL Weiler, Inc.
A 1951 Frank Lloyd Wright designed house known as the Frieda and Henry J. Neils House, has been on the Twin Cities real estate market since 2018. First listed for $3,400,000, it has seen a few price drops and is now a mere $2.75 million.
The home was built for Henry J. Neils, a material supplier who worked closely with Wright during construction. It features many Usonian features, including Wright's signature Cherokee Red flooring, but uses aluminum framed windows, manufactured by Neils' company, instead of Wright's usual wood framing. Neils also had access to marble left over from another job and convinced FLW to use marble blocks to build a wall. FLW did not care for the appearance and the blocks were later stained.
The Wisconsin State Journal has reported the death of Tom Every, an eccentric artist better known as Dr, Evermore. His famous art garden was created out of his imagination and years of raw material collected in his indusrial scrapping business. The center of the art garden is The Forevertron, surrounded by fantastic creatures and birds created from musical instruments.
The Forevertron has been called "the largest scrap sculpture in the world." Once mesmerized by the Forevertron, one could spend hours studying the massive sculpture. What is all that stuff and where did it all come from?
The Milwaukee Sentinel-Journal is reporting that the building that once housed George Watts & Sons and the George Watts Tea Room is being considered for historic designation by the City of Milwaukee. The designation could impact future development and modifications.
According to the article, six buildings constructed between 1850 and 1925 on the block could receive historic designation. The block was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986 as part of a district but not with individual NRHP listings nor local historic designation.
Historic Detroit posted on Facebook today that the Michigan Theater, at 238 Bagley Avenue, began its march into history on this date fifty-three years ago by showing its last movie. The entry reads, "On this date 53 years ago, the final movie was shown at the Michigan Theatre in Detroit. It would become a concert venue called The Palace before having its seats ripped out and being turned into a parking garage."
Michigan Building Parking Structure. Photo by Dan Austin, Historic Detroit.
You read that correctly. The movie palace, the only theater in Michigan designed by Rapp & Rapp, once was a 4,000 seat display of opulence and grandeur. (The rare, five-manual, Wurlitzer theater organ was sold to Fred Hermes of Racine, Wisconsin in 1956 where he installed it in his home.)
After being used (unsuccessfully) as a dinner and a movie theater, it became a rock 'n' roll venue where vandals sealed its fate. A three-story parking garage was built inside the old theater, the ceiling still showing its days as one of Detroit's most opulent theaters.
Historic Detroit also points out that the site once was the location of Henry Ford's home. The home included a small building where he built his first car, the Quadracycle, in 1896. (Mr. Ford later moved the building to his Dearborn museum.) Only in Detroit could the site of the first Ford automobile be turned into an automobile parking lot.
The Waukesha Preservation Alliance is reporting that the City of Waukesha Common Council voted to deny a Waukesha County request to demolish the old Moor Baths resort/hotel, also known as the Grand View Hotel. The county has used the old hotel as office space but found the annual upkeep expense to be excessive. Requests to demolish the structure and sell the land, including a golf course, to developers have been proposed for several years.
The Moor Mud Baths harken back to the days when Waukesha was known as "The Saratoga of the West" for its mineral springs. Several mineral bath spas and the mud baths sprang up in the early 20th Century. The Moor Baths/Grandview Hotel resort/hotel operated until 1961. It was used as a college until 1971 when the county moved in.
Reports say demolition would cost $3.3 million while preservationists say the property could be adapted for reuse and save the money. For now, the facility will stand.
Two retired rail executives have pleged matching funds, up to $300,000, toward the restoration of Nashville, Chattanooga & St. Louis Railway Steam Locomotive No. 576. The locomotive was donated to the City of Nashville in 1953 and put on display in Centennial Park until January 2019. The Nashville Steam Preservation Society leased the locomotive from Metro Nashville and raised funds to move the locomotive to the Tennessee Central Railway Museum where the restoration is underway.
Retired railroad executives and rail history supporters, Richard Tower and Wick Moorman, have partnered in offering the matching funds. The matches will be made for contributions of $1,000.00 or more between now and December 31, 2020.
In a prepared statement, Nashville Steam Preservation Society President Shane Meador said, “If we can raise the funds to maximize the matching potential, then we will be well over halfway to our goal, and the restoration timeline can remain on track.”
Curbed Detroit is reporting the State Savings Bank Building has been restored and is now available for rent as an event venue. The building was in bad shape and appeared to be headed for demolition when it was purchased in 2014. The building has been restored and is now open. (The Beaux Arts structure was placed on the NRHP in 1982.)
A delightful article in Curbed Detroit celebrates Orchestra Hall's 100th anniversary. Like many valued landmarks, it was once in danger of being demolished but efforts to save the classic venue resulted in a magnificent restoration. Orchestra Hall is revered as one of the world's greatest orchestral venues due to its remarkable acoustic qualities.
Curbed Detroit and other sources are reporting that a historical building is facing demolition to provide 12 parking spaces for a luxury condominium project. The Detroit Saturday Night Building (550 W. Fort Street) failed to receive historic status with the Detroit City Council on October 1, 2019.
Detroit Saturday Night Building. Photo by Mark Hall.
The building was constructed in 1914 to house the offices of the Detroit Saturday Night newspaper. (The paper was published from 1907 to 1939.) The building was designed by the Detroit firm of Smith, Hinchman & Grylls (today the Smith Group.) The red brick building features several glazed terra cotta and stone decorative elements.
Preservationists are fighting the decision but the fate of the building appears to be sealed.
The Freeborn County(Minnesota) Historical Society has announced that the Kohler Foundation has purchased and will restore the Itasca Rock Garden in Albert Lea, Minnesota. Although not on the NRHP at this time, the rock garden has a long history and is a revered asset of Albert Lea. The society says that the Kohler Foundation will gift the property to the Freeborn Historical Society sometime after the restoration is completed.
Also known as the Christiansen Rock Garden, construction was begun in 1925 by John Christiansen. He and his wife collected rocks for the garden when they travelled.
The Fox River Navigation System Authority (FRNSA) in a press release is reporting that funds to repair the Kaukauna Veterans Memorial Bridge to operational status have been secured. The U.S. Coast Guard notified the City of Kaukauna that the bridge, over the Fox River Navigation Channel, must be operational by May 1, 2021.
Clearance is limited without lifting the bridge. Photo by J.R. Manning for Bridge and Landmark Hunter sites.
Because everything else about the bridge, except the lift mechanism is in good shape, there are no federal dollars available for the repairs. Funds were included in the current State of Wisconsin budget but were struck from the budget by Governor Tony Evers, using the governor's line item veto. In his budget memo, Governor Evers stated, "I am vetoing these sections as I object to the placement of the project in the budget, particularly given the lack of additional funding provided to ensure that this earmark does not result in a delay for other needed repairs." (Source: Veto Message, Office of Tony Evers, page 64.)
The Fox River Navigation System Authority (FRNSA) says that it worked with city officials and funding was secured through a "newly formed $75 million Multimodal Local Supplement grant program."
One of the last bills that President Abraham Lincoln signed into law was an act creating three "Old Soldiers Homes" to take care of disabled Civil War veterans. It was the beginning of the VA, and one of those three was the Northwestern Branch built in Wood, Wisconsin, just outside Milwaukee.
Old Main, a favorite landmark in the Milwaukee area, opened in 1869 and today, is in deplorable shape. Fundraising to save Old Main continues, with plans to convert the grand dame into 80 units of housing.
Milwaukee Independent published a virtual reality 360º walk through of Old Main along with an array of still photos, posted by Lee Matz. Follow the link to see the pre-restoration conditions of this once magnificent structure.
A new owner has purchased the Patio Theater in the Chicago neighborhood of Portage Park, located on Irving Park Road. The auditorium is an Atmospheric theater with twinkling stars and drifting clouds on the simulated night sky. According to the theater's website, the capacity is 1,496 seats.
The Patio opened on January 29, 1927 when silent films were still standard fare. A 3 manual, 10 rank Barton Theater Organ was installed to accompany the films. The organ is still there, according to sources, it is the last Barton theater organ still in its original installation.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and news sources are reporting that eight Frank Lloyd Wright buildings across the United States have been added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. There are nearly 1,100 World Heritage sites, only 24 of which are in the United States.
Arguably one of America's greatest and most influential architects, FLW created over 1,000 designs. 449 of them were actually constructed. Of those 449 realized Wright-designed structures, there are 380 extant structures but 67 have been demolished. Architectural Record
Ford Authority is reporting that Ford Motor Company is rethinking the plan to renovate Detroit's Michigan Central Station. The original plan was to convert the upper floors to apartments but the plan may change to make those floors into a boutique hotel. A decision on the potential change should come at the end of the month.
Ford is spending tons of money on the restoration of the abandoned property and has invited other automakers to join them in using the revamped facility. (Ford is planning on bringing in 5,000 workers for autonomous and EV development. The station will be the anchor of a 1.2 million square foot campus.)
The hotel will occupy the twelfth and thirteenth floors, although due to superstition, the top floor will not be so named. A Ford spokesman said the floors lend themselves to hospitality and conferencing more so than residential space.
Scaffolding will soon surround the structure as repair of the exterior begins. 227,000 gallons of water has been drained from the building along with removal of 3,000 carloads of debris. The project is slated for completion in 2022. Ford received $239 million in local, state and federal incentives to build the campus.
The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation is reporting that the T.A. Pappas House in Town and Country, Missouri is for sale. The Usonian House was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1955. One of only two Wright-designed homes in St. Louis, the sale price of $1.2 million includes all the furniture FLW designed for the house.
Theodore A. Pappas House in 2017. Photo by LittleT889 for Wikipedia, used by CC BY-SA 4.0
FLW passed on before construction began but the family wished to expand the original floor plan. The expansion was handled by architects at Taliesin Associated Architects who saw the project through to completion.
Curbed Detroit is reporting that the former Ford Motor Company Highland Park plant is for sale.
The historic plant was designed by famous and prolific industrial architect, Albert Kahn. The site was home of the Model T Ford and was the location of Henry Ford's famous assembly line. The plant was also the location of Henry Ford's announcement of the Five Dollar Day that revolutionized the automobile industry and attracted a migration of workers to Detroit from around the country. The Highland Park plant opened in 1910 and was the standard for industrial plant design for many years.
Curbed Detroit tells us the four story, 54,000 square foot plant is currently owned by the Woodward Avenue Action Association that bought the plant in order to preserve it. The listed price is not revealed but the Woodward Action Association bought the facility in 2013 for $550,000.00.
Crain's Detroit Business and other news sources are reporting that the massive Masonic Temple is getting an upgrade with a new operating agreement with AEG Presents.
AEG Presents will operate the 4,400 seat Masonic Temple Theater and 1,586 seat Cathedral Theater. AEG Presents will also book acts for the theaters. AEG will provide $2 million for renovations and restoration, including upgrading sound and lighting.
Groundbreaking for the temple, the largest Masonic Temple in the world, was on Thanksgiving Day, 1920 and the building was mostly completed by 1926. The design called for three theaters (only two were completed) a Shrine building, a chapel, eight lodge rooms, two ballrooms, offices, a cafeteria and dining rooms, 16 bowling lanes, a barber shop and a powerhouse that provided electricity for the building. Construction was halted during the Great Depression and the top three floors are still empty. The temple has 1,037 rooms and more than half a million square feet.
AEG Presents is a division of AEG Live of Los Angeles, promoting live entertainment. In the agreement, AEG Presents will exclusively book entertainment for and manage the facilities.
WTTW in Chicago is reporting that the Rapp & Rapp designed Uptown Theater will be undergoing a $75 Million restoration. (See the original article here: WTTW Uptown Theater.) The fabulous chandeliers that were a part of the opulent decor of the magnificent movie palace have been stored offsite for more than 20 years.
When the Uptown opened in 1925, it was the 12th largest movie palace in the United States. It was built by the Balaban & Katz Corporation, owners of a chain of theaters in Chicago. The Uptown was a fabulous theater, built north of Chicago in the Uptown neighborhood, even more fabulous than any theater in The Loop.
Locomotive 576, formerly located in Centennial Park in Nashville, was removed for restoration to operational status. It will operate in excursion service in Central Tennessee. A turntable was recently moved from Atlanta to Watertown, Tennessee so the locomotive can be turned around.
NC&StL in Centennial Park 576 before it was moved
(Click on photo to see larger image).
News Channel 5 in Nashville reports that Historic Watertown is thrilled to find the turntable. The group says it may take four years to make the turntable operational, as well as build a depot and museum.
Forbes Magazine and other sources (links below) are reporting the iconic Chrysler Building is up for sale. The Abu Dhabi Investment Council is putting up their 90% share of ownership. The asking price is unknown. The New York Times reports that the council paid $800 million for their 90% stake in 2008. Will it bring a profit? No one is sure.
The building does not own the land beneath it and rental costs of land
The Toledo Chronicle and Tama News-Herald reported on January 5, 2019 that the Lincoln Savings Bank donated $3,000 to the City of Tama toward the fund drive to restore the Tama Lincoln Highway Bridge. The fund is now over the $12,000 goal for local contributions to the restoration fund. Grants and funding from the city will pay for the engineering and restoration of the bridge.
The DeKalb (Illinois) Daily Chronicle is reporting that the 90 year old Egyptian Theater is moving ahead with plans for a $4.5 Million renovation. Plans call for air conditioning and expansion of rest room facilities. (Links below.)
The air conditioning is to help preserve the historic structure and encourage more use of the theater year round. The proposed units are high efficiency but are comparable in size to a school bus. The installation will be on the roof to preserve the historic appearance of the façade but will also require some changes to the roof structure to accommodate the weight.
A developer in San Francisco has been ordered to rebuild a historic home, designed by Richard Neutra, that he illegally demolished to build on the site.
All that remains is the garage door and frame. Google Street View.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post and several other news outlets, the Largent House, a 1936 Twin Peaks neighborhood, Richard Neutra design, at 49 Hopkins Avenue, was demolished to make room for a much larger house that was proposed for the site.
In a 5-0 vote, the San Francisco City Planning Commission ordered that the property owner rebuild an exact replica of the house and place a sidewalk plaque that describes the original house, its demolition and the replica that replaces it.
The popular PBS series, NOVA, documented the rebuilding of the Blenheim Covered Bridge, an 1855 structure that was washed washed away by Hurricane Irene in 2011. A replacement bridge, a replica of the original, was built over 2017-2018. This television show documented the rebuilding.
If you missed it on PBS, you can watch it on their website:
The Fox River Navigation System Authority (Wisconsin) has announced that a swing bridge, previously not operational, has been repaired. The inability of the bridge to open has limited the height of watercraft that use the locks in the navigational channel.
Now that the bridge is operational, the navigation channel is open to all Fox River watercraft that able to lock through Appleton.
The Veterans Memorial Bridge in Kaukauna, Wisconsin, has been ordered to be returned to operational condition by the U.S. Coast Guard. The lift bridge, that carries Catherine Street across the Fox River Navigational Channel, has not been operational since the 1980s. The bridge was built in 1984.
The Fox locks fell into disuse and the lift bridge stopped being utilized. The locks were restored in 2015 but mariners seldom use them because they cannot get craft under the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
WLUK in Green Bay reports that Kaukauna received notification from the U.S. Coast Guard that the bridge must be operational by May 1, 2021. Kaukauna Mayor Tony Penterman says the biggest issue is funding. Except for the lift mechanism, the bridge is in good condition so it is possible not many federal dollars will be available. The projected cost of the repairs is $2.2 Million.
Crain’s Business is reporting that Matthew Moroun says the Moroun family has sold the historic Michigan Central Station in Detroit to Ford Motor Co.
The station has been unused since the last train pulled out in 1988. The Moroun Family bought the building in 1995 and had done some tedevelopment work. Moroun says the Blue Oval will adorn the building. The purchase signals Ford’s return to Detroit, where the company was founded in 1903. It also signals redevelopment of Corktown.
The sale also allows the Moroun family’s to pursue plans to replace the 88 year old Ambassador Bridge.
The 1878 Trinity Lutheran Church was destroyed today in a spectacular four-alarm fire. The church, in downtown Milwaukee, was constructed with cream city brick and Illinois limestone, both darkened with a patina of dirt and soot. It was also home to a historic Schuelke pipe organ that likely did not survive the fire.
The fire was reported just before 4:00 PM and quickly escalated to a fourth alarm. A plume of black smoke could be seen for miles. Wind from the east blew smoke over I-43 a block to the west of the church, causing several miles of traffic backups. Over 100 firefighters were able to bring the fire under control not long after 5:00 PM. One steeple collapsed into the church. The tower clock continued to keep time until the power was cut at 4:27 PM.
The Paramount Theater has announced the largest grant it has ever received to help launch a fund-raising campaign. In a press release, the theater says it received a grant of $2.5 million from the Dunham Fund. The fundraising effort has a goal of $4.5 million to fund expansion and improvement in three areas.
One such goal is the replacement of the 1,888 seats that
are original to the theater. The group says the seats
Lawmakers in Wisconsin passed a landmark (pun intended) bill on February 20 to increase the state's cap on per-project historic rehabilitation tax credits. The increase bumps the credit from $500,000 to $3.5 million. The bill passed the Senate on a bi-partisan vote of 29-3 after unanimously passing the Assembly. The bill now moves on to the desk of Governor Scott Walker, who is expected to sign the bill into law.
A previous budget item would have set the limit at $500,000 as of July 1.
A former fire station in Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin is scheduled to be repurposed as a restaurant. According to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, a successful area restaurateur purchased the property for $1.00 and will convert the facility in a $2 million project. Some funding will come from the State of Wisconsin and Menomonee Falls. Scheduled to open this summer, the building served as the city hall a fire house from 1929. City hall moved but the building continued as a fire station until 2015. It was placed on the NRHP in 1988.
The USGS has shifted their collection of historical and modern quadrangle maps to a new hosting provider (Amazon S3). I've updated all of our quadrangle links to point to the new files. One advantage of the new hosting system is that the maps are no longer tucked away in ZIP archives, so the PDF files can now be downloaded directly.
To access the quadrangles, pick any county and then click the Quadrangles link in the top menu bar. You can also find links from each landmark page.
The truck driver who caused a historic Indiana bridge to collapse because she wasn’t sure how much six tons weighed has been sentenced to jail.
Indiana Judge R. Michael Cloud sentenced 24 year old truck driver Mary Lambright to the maximum sentence of 180 days behind bars. She was also ordered to pay $2000 to cover part of the costs of the bridge inspection once construction on the new structure is completed.
Here's your chance to hobnob with Chicago's elite and entertain your guests in high style in Chicago's Lincoln Park. The Wrigley Mansion, as it is commonly known, is a 9 bedroom, six bathroom home that overlooks Lincoln Park and Lake Michigan. The 13,700 square foot mansion features a mahogany paneled library and a top floor ballroom where you can host your own murder mystery parties. The mansion has been on the NRHP since July 1980.
Wrigley Mansion, Photo by chicagoist.
For a cool $7.1 Million dollars, you too can live like a chewing gum magnate.
An important component of Milwaukee's historic Lake Park was closed without notice on December 9. The bridge, designed by Alfred C. Clas and George Bowman Ferry, connects the northern and southern halves of the park by spanning a deep ravine. Lake Park was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. It was posted to the NRHP in 1993.
The historic bridge's fate is uncertain
The concrete arch bridge has been a source of concern for several years. Cracks and spalling raised concerns, leading to a structural analysis in 2015. Potential failure of the bridge prompted its closure on December 9 along with the closing of Ravine Drive, a roadway spanned by the bridge. According to County Executive Chris Abele, the bridge will be demolished if people ignore the chain link gates that block access.
Estimates to repair or to replace the bridge hover around $2 million, a sum not readily available. Fans of Lake Park and of the historical value of bridge are disappointed over rumors of the bridge's potential demolition.
The concrete arch bridge was part of a promenade that included a grand staircase (extant) allowing access to the lower portion of the park at the bottom of Lake Michigan's famous western shore bluff. There was also an athletic field and stands that were demolished decades ago.
One of three Frank Lloyd Wright structures in the state of Montana seems to have avoided the wrecking ball. A copyrighted article by Heidi Desch in the Whitefish Pilot, reports a developer purchased the Lockridge Medical Clinic in Whitefish, Montana with the intention of demolishing it to make room for a commercial development.
Developer Mick Ruis purchased the building and says when he purchased the building, he was not aware of Frank Lloyd Wright nor had any idea that Wright is so popular. Although listing on the NRHP does not prevent a property's demolition, Ruis apparently ran into backlash from Wright affectionados.
Ruis listed the building at the same price he paid for it and hopes it will be purchased by someone who will restore it or turn it into a museum.
Curbed Chicago is reporting that the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Isadore Heller House has returned to the real estate market after taking a break. The 1896 design is a significant example of FLW's developing Prairie Style.
It is located in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood and was added to the NRHP in 2004.
Oh, if you want in, the asking price is $2.425 million and the price appears to be firm.
The Tama News Herald Toledo Chronicle is reporting this morning that an early morning accident October 11 dislodged the letter "Y" in the north railing of the Mud Creek Bridge in Tama. The letter is one of the balustrades that spell "LINCOLN HIGHWAY" on the railings of the iconic bridge. They further report that the damage may have been caused by a chrome bumper or chrome wheels because there are no paint scrapes on the letter or the railing itself.
Authorities say the bridge recently underwent structural analysis and they believe insurance should cover the cost of repairs.
The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Photo courtesy of the News-Herald
Photo by John Speer.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has selected a local team's proposal to rehabilitate and restore six of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District buidlings for the service of veteraans.
The Alexander Company of Madison and the Housing Authority of Milwaukee plan to renovate the six buildings in 100 housing units. Primary is the restoration of Old Main (officially #2) the most recognizable building in Wood, designed by Milwaukee's prominant architect. William Townsend Mix. Its distinctive tower is one of the first elements seen by visitors to the VA facility. The other five buildings are the Administration Building (#1) the Catholic Chaplain's Quarters (#14) and three duplexes, (#18, #19 and #62.)
Buildings to be restored, outlined in blue.
Funding will come from the Enhanced Use Lease (ELU) option with the structures leased to The Alexander Company who will take on the cost of rehabilitation.
The area is officially known as the Northwestern Branch, National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers Historic District. Better known locally as the VA Center at Wood, it is one of the original three "Old Soldiers' Homes" signed into law by President Abraham Lincoln just prior to his assassination. One of Milwaukee's most prominant architects, Edward Townsend Mix designed the most distinctive structure, Building #2 known as Old Main.
The Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public again after damage caused by vandals has been repaired. The tower closed two years ago after substantial damage had been done to the tower.
Greyling Brandt, U.S. Forest Service Assistant Ranger for Recreation and Lands, reports that all 132 steps of the tower have been replaced as has the floor of the cab. The $20,000 project was partially funded by the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation with parts and labor supplied by the U.S. Forest Service.
On the National Register of Historic Places, the Mountain Tower is one of two extant towers in this area that originally had 19 towers.
The "Show Dome," one of the three domes of the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory, reopened on Friday, April 29, 2016. The opening was two days ahead of the target date for reopening, May 1.
The Show Dome in 2011
"The Domes," as they are popularly known, were closed in early February. On January 29, a piece of the concrete framework fell inside the Arid Dome, which was immediately closed. The closing of the other two domes followed a few days later.
A mesh has been installed over the framework. Reports are that the mesh is barely visible. The mesh is to catch and debris that might fall and for officials to monitor the condition of the frame.
According to several news sources, a telephone booth has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places. Yes, you read that correctly, and it was true the second time you went back to read it.
If you are over 50, you probably remember these ubiquitous glass and aluminum structures that were found on urban sidewalks, inside transportation terminals, outside restaurants and service stations, sometimes along the highway. They were also all over Metropolis so Superman had somewhere to become Clark Kent after saving the world. They all contained a coin-operated telephone, or pay phone in common parlance, where you could reach out and touch someone if you had the right coins.
The glass and aluminum Airlight Telephone Booth of our youth was introduced in 1954. The booth featured tip-up directories that folded into a box to protect them. Sort of. Telephone books tended to disappear or have pages ripped out by users without a pen. There was a shelf for your stuff or to write info if you were smart enough to carry a pen.
Governor Scott Walker has signed a bill into law that will designate a Frank Lloyd Wright Trail along several highway routes. The trail will begin in Kenosha County and continue through Racine, Milwaukee, Waukesha, Jefferson, Dane, Iowa, Sauk and Richland counties. $50,000 from the Department of Tourism will be used to place signage along the trail marking Wright attractions.
Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959)
in his ever-present pork pie hat.
The historic Issac Newton Ellis House in Hazelhurst, Mississippi was destroyed in a spectacular fire on February 27, 2016. The entire structure and an adjacent building were completely destroyed in the fire, according to the fire department.
The home was listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was built circa 1890. According to officials, no one was at home when the fire started and all residents are accounted for. As of this writing, the cause of the fire is unknown.
The fire consumed the entire structure. Photo by Patrick White, Hazlehurst Fire Department.
Used with permission.
Posted by J.R. Manning from VA Documentation February 28, 2016
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has issued a Request for Proposals seeking developers interested in rehabilitating a number of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home District's unused historic buildings. The RFP utilizes EUL, Enhanced Use Leases. The structures called out in the RFP include Building 2 (Old Main,) Building 1 (Administration Building,) Building 14 (Catholic Chaplain's Quarters,) and Buildings 18, 19 and 62.
The VA Center is one of three created during the Lincoln Administration, just prior to his assassination. Soldiers from all American conflicts, except the American Revolution, are interred in the cemetery.
Responses to the RFP are due by 11:00 a.m. EST on May 18, 2016.
Milwaukee's famous Mitchell Park Domes are indefinitely closed. The Arid Dome was closed on January 29 after pieces of concrete fell from the dome. The other domes closed on February 5 as a safety measure while county officials wait for details of how expensive repairs might be. (The geometric framework is based on cast concrete.) Deterioration of the concrete framework was caused by moisture, humidity, and changes in temperature, all enhanced by the age of the structures.
The domes were built in stages between 1959 and 1967, with Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady of the United States, attending the ribbon cutting ceremony.
A 22 year old genius has been charged with vandalism in the damage done to an eight foot tall statue of Abraham Lincoln in Burlington, Wisconsin. The senseless act took place last Saturday, January 30. Charges were leveled on February 2.
Jacob Hinds of Burlington, allegedly toppled the statue by pulling it over with his pickup truck and a tow strap. The 22 year old was charged with felony criminal damage to property.
The Fox River Navigational System Authority has closed the Menasha Lock going into the Labor Day weekend due to discovery of an invasive species of fish into the important Wisconsin waterway. Working with anglers fishing the Lower Fox River, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has confirmed the presence of the Round Goby - an unwanted aquatic invasive species -- immediately below the Neenah dam.
Round Goby, an invasive species threatening the Fox River Photo by Wisconsin DNR
In a media release on September 3, 2015, Kendall Kamke, DNR Oshkosh fisheries team supervisor, said the four gobies caught in recent days are the first evidence of the species in the waterway above the series of locks and dams downstream. The DNR is asking area anglers for additional help to determine if the species is also present upstream of the Neenah and Menasha dams in Lake Winnebago and is coordinating efforts with the Fox River Navigational System Authority.
"We also would like to learn whether the gobies are present in other locations," Kamke said.
Since its discovery in the St. Clair River in 1990, bottom-dwelling round gobies have spread rapidly into many areas of the Great Lakes including Lake Michigan. Round gobies can survive even in poor quality water and displace native fish by eating their eggs and young, taking over optimal habitat and spawning multiple times per season, which gives them a competitive advantage.
"The gobies represent a real threat to the valuable native species in the Lake Winnebago system - home to a world class walleye fishery, the largest self-sustaining population of lake sturgeon in North America, good populations of bass, yellow perch and other game and panfish species," Kamke said. "We are grateful to the Fox River Navigational System Authority for the partnership involved in this effort."
In addition, Kamke said, DNR is asking for assistance from anglers to help determine whether the gobies have made it above the Neenah and Menasha dams and are in Lake Winnebago or whether they may still be held in check downstream. The DNR would like caught gobies to be brought into the DNR office with details of the catch.
The DNR is not sure how the gobies made their way into the Lower Fox. The system of locks has not been operational for many years, with the Kaukauna locks closed for rebuilding while the Rapide Croche Lock was permanently sealed in 1988 to prevent invasive species from going upstream into Lake Winnebago.
“In three decades there has been no water running through the lock system from Lake Winnebago to the bay of Green Bay,” said Bob Stark, CEO of the FRNSA. “Water still is not flowing through all five Kaukauna locks and the Little Chute locks are dry due to bridge construction. If invasive species have breached the system, it’s a possibility there was another entry point.”
Kamke said there is no way to determine how the gobies arrived in the channel below the Neenah dam, which opens into Little Lake Butte des Morts. In addition to working with local anglers, DNR fisheries and aquatic invasive species team members will continue to set traps and use shocking equipment to determine the range and extent of the population.
A modest home built in 1917 in the Milwaukee suburb of Shorewood has been determined to be one of Frank Lloyd Wright's American System homes according to Mike Lilek, Curator, American System-Built Homes, at Frank Lloyd Wright Wisconsin. It is a very rare occurrence for an extant Wright house to be discovered.
"I received a tip about the Newton home a few years ago and brushed it off. Only 433 Wright designs were executed and they are well-known and carefully researched, so I thought it couldn’t be. When I finally visited the home I discovered many similarities to the Wright homes I care for on Burnham Street in Milwaukee," Lilek said. He said he did extensive research at the Milwaukee County Historical Society and carefully looked at Wright's drawings of American System Homes to verify that the Newton house is a FLW design.
“The house was advertised for sale in the Milwaukee Journal in December of 1918 stating that the house was ‘Originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’,” Lilek said. A lawsuit by the builder and a construction lien against The Richards Company, developer of the American System-Built Houses, offer further confirmation that the house is the work of Wright.
Frank Lloyd Wright House, Shorewood, Wisconsin
The Shorewood house is a “Model A203” with two bedrooms. An open porch at the rear of the house was enclosed for added living space at an unknown date, though the original art glass windows are still in place. A basement-level garage was added in 1976.
Lilek has since checked around the country and no one can recall the last time an actual Wright building was discovered. “It’s been at least a decade. This is so incredibly rare and unusual,” he said.
One of Detroit's historic skyscrapers, the Wurlitzer Building, has been sold after standing empty for three decades.The landmark building once housed one of the largest music stores in the world.
Rudolph Wurlitzer came to the United States in 1853. His family had been in the music instrument business in Europe since 1659, so it was only natural that Rudolph would start a company that was soon the largest distributor of musical instruments in the county. He began to manufacture pianos that were sold through retailers.
When silent movies became a major industry, Wurlitzer began to build theater organs that were reputed to be the biggest, the best, and the clearest sounding organs. Even today, the reputation of "The Mighty Wurlitzer" is known around the world. Wurlitzer would go on to manufacture phonograph equipment and a very popular line of jukeboxes.
The Wurlitzer Building went up in 1926, a Renaissance Revival, 14 story skyscraper. According to Historic Detroit, the building was built with a Terra Cotta façade, granite trim and ornamental ironwork. The name, "Wurlitzer Building" was built into the façade with black Terra Cotta.
Wurlitzer moved out of the building in the 70s, and things pretty much started to go downhill from there. It has been standing empty, with time, elements and vandals all taking a toll on the building.
But it appears that the old gem is about to receive a new lease on life. It has been purchased by New York development company Ash NYC, which plans to turn it into a 100 room boutique hotel with a sidewalk cafe and a rooftop lounge. The estimate for the renovation is over $20 million. The project is projected to be completed in late 2016.
Meyer mansion has a first name,
Meyer mansion has a second name,
Oscar G. Meyer House, Evanston, Illinois
I never sausage a thing!
The King of Wieners, Oscar Meyer, lived in an understated (if that's possible) mansion in Evanston, Illinois. He bought the 1903 house in 1927 and after remodeling it, lived there until his death in 1965. It is in serious need of restoration, but you'll probably have to ask James for a raise if you're going to tackle this one. It's a bargain at only $236.00 per square foot. Of course, it has about 7,500 square feet, but it's a real bargain at the listed price of $1.75 million. (The estimated mortgage payment would be a measly $6,335.00 per month.) The Oscar Meyer Wienermobile is not included.
The house is in a serious state of decay and is being sold by court order. I'd hate to guess how much it will take to bring it back to its original elegance. The house is not on the NRHP but it certainly looks like it might qualify.
The Oscar Meyer house can be found on several real estate websites, just do a google search, or follow this link:
The historic Lincoln Highway bridge in Tama, Iowa that crosses Mud Creek is in need of repairs caused by flood damage, according to a copyrighted story in the Toledo Chronicle, Tama News-Herald. The article by John Speer, dated September 12, 2014, reports that engineers have determined that substructure damage was caused by debris carried by flood waters in Mud Creek.
In addition, the deck will need to be removed and replaced. Estimates are that the repairs to cost as much as $40,000.00. Tama City Clerk, Judy Welch, said that the substructure repairs need to be completed in 2015 although the deck surface can wait until 2017.
The 100th Anniversary of the bridge opening will occur in 2015. It was placed on the NRHP in 1987. The distinctive bridge is known primarily for its railing balustrades that spell out LINCOLN HIGHWAY.
A small park, adjacent to the northeast quadrant of the bridge, is the location of a monument to the bridge. A support group, the Lincoln Highway Bridge Park Organization Tama-Toledo supports the park in several ways.
After standing unused for over 30 years, and closed to the public, SC Johnson Company's Frank Lloyd Wright designed Research Tower will open for tours.
SC Johnson Company has announced that the tower, one of the tallest cantilevered buildings in the United States, will be a part of the public tours for the first time ever. In a copyrighted story by Milwaukee's Fox 6 News, free tours of the tower and the administration building will begin May 2, 2014.
SC Johnson has restored two of the 15 floors to their appearance when the tower was closed. Period equipment has been placed to enhance work space mock-ups.
The tower has 15 cantilevered floors, six are square with circular mezzanine floors above them. (There is an additional square floor on the second level.) All the floors are supported by a central core, none are supported by the exterior walls or any additional framing. The core contains an elevator and a circular stairway that is a fire inspector's nightmare.
After restoration of the exterior (including cleaning the glass tubes with Windex™, an SC Johnson product) it is possible to make out the round shape of the alternating mezzanine floors.
The tower opened in 1950 and was the only R&D building Wright ever designed. It was never open to the public while in use, nor after it was closed in 1983.
More than 5,800 Pyrex glass tubes, totalling over 17 miles in length, serve as windows, letting in diffused light. The exterior alternates between stripes of glass tubes and more than 21,000 bricks. The bricks feature the signature Wright/SC Johnson “Cherokee Red” color.
Tours are free but require advance reservations. If you are interested in seeing this architectural gem, check soon for a tour opening. Tours are filling up quickly and can be made by following the link below.
One of the ten most endangered historical sites in Wisconsin has met its fate, and no one appears to be a winner in this case. The modest cottage of Mary L. Nohl and all her artwork will be relocated to Sheboygan as part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, which owns the art site. The Nohl site is precariously located in an affluent suburb of Milwaukee that grew up around the cottage in Ms. Nohl's lifetime.
Mary L. Nohl was a very creative woman, an artist who dedicated her life to her art. Sometimes labeled an eccentric, she spent almost all of her reclusive life in a modest cottage on the shore of Lake Michigan, built by her parents, Leo and Emma Nohl.
Although she had extensive education in the arts, she abandoned classical art and created directly from her soul, her wit and whimsy displayed in her environment. She created a lifetime of sculptures and oil paintings in her home, with most of the sculptures displayed in the yard.
Mary helped her father build these gate pillars during her 12th summer. (It is assumed that she added the figures years later.) The sand and rocks were hauled up from the beach in Mary's red wagon. She continued to use that wagon for hauling art materials from the beach over her lifetime.
All of this has been much to the dismay of some of her neighbors, consisting of large estates in this current-day affluent neighborhood. Several urban myths have grown up around the environment, sometimes known as "The Witch's House" some because of her reclusive lifestyle, some because of a huge sculpture with three eerie figures (no longer on display on the property.) She took it all in stride, even creating a mosaic on her front porch that spells. "BOO!"
Her brother, Maximilian, was educated at MIT and was a noted marine engineer that set a deep sea diving depth record in Lake Michigan. In 1960, Max and his wife, Eleanor, died tragically in a two-car automobile accident near Hope, Arkansas, leaving Mary the sole surviving heir.
The Wisconsin Preservation Trust listed the Nohl property as one of the ten most endangered sites in Wisconsin. A very vocal minority of Fox Point residents has actively campaigned in the past to have the site demolished, as they consider it an eyesore. Not all residents feel that way and many are proud of the community's unique treasure, but apparently, not enough of them. The Trust said not long ago that "...without support from within and outside the Village of Fox Point, the Kohler Foundation will be forced to develop an exit strategy and the art and home will have to be removed from the site."
The announcement on March 27 brought the Trust's prediction to fruition.
According to the Kohler Arts Center, the cost of moving the environment will be between one and two million dollars. Upon completion, the extremely valuable property will be sold to help defray the relocation costs. Plans are to reassemble the cottage and collection near Lake Michigan, allowing more access to artists and the public. A guard is on site 24 hours now, and Kohler Arts Center officials say security is being stepped up in the wake of this announcement.
There are many challenges facing the move. Almost every inch of the cottage is carved, painted, or displays Ms. Nohl's artwork. Much of her art is very delicate, made from elements that washed up on shore. The hundreds of concrete sculptures that adorn her yard will also require special care.
Ms. Nohl decorated the outside of her home with colorful panels made with driftwood figures and cut-out wooden silhouettes. Even more wooden silhouettes dangle from tree branches. Many of the silhouettes were formerly pickets of a fence that she was forced to remove because of damage caused by vandals.
According to the Detroit Free Press, it appears the car ferry SS Badger will continue to ply Lake Michigan between Manitowoc and Ludington. The Badger is the last operational car ferry of the once enormous fleet of railroad ferries, and the last coal-fired cargo vessel on the lakes.
And therein lies her problem. The SS Badger has been on the endangered species list since 2008, when the Environmental Protection Agency leveled the ship into its crosshairs. Coal-fired vessels disposed of coal ash by mixing it with water and pouring it overboard. The Badger is no different, and has been disposing of coal ash into the lake since it was built in 1953. The EPA claims the coal ash is a pollutant and ordered the dumping stopped in 2008. The operators were given until 2012 to stop dumping or cease operations. The legal battle has continued ever since.
On October 10, 2013, U.S. District Judge Janet Neff approved a revised deal between the EPA and Lake Michigan Carferry, parent company of the S.S. Badger.
The agreement allows the Badger to continue operations while modifications are made to the ship. The deal calls for a reduction in the amount of ash discharged during the 2014 sailing season and by the start of the 2015 season, the Badger will have to store coal ash on board for later disposal on shore.
With this ruling, it appears the Queen of the Great Lakes Car Ferries (and the last of her breed still sailing) will continue to be an operational historical landmark.
A teenage train fanatic is suing New York authorities after being arrested and detained for three hours for the crime of taking photographs of trains.
According to the USA Today in a story republished on March 25, 2013 (by Eric Shilling of The Westchester County Journal News) Gregory Grice was 16 when he was arrested on June 6, 2011. Grice says he was stopped while harmlessly snapping photos of Metro-North trains near the North White Plains station in Greenburgh, N.Y. (That's about 30 miles north of New York City.)
The paper reports that the lawsuit was filed March 15 in U.S. District Court in White Plains, N.Y. with unspecified damages. The suit names the towns of Greenburgh and North Castle, Westchester County, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and several police officers.
An MTA spokeswoman said there is no prohibition on photography in the MTA system "as long as there is no trespass." MTA's rules of conduct call for a $25 fine for unauthorized photography or filming.
Grice had a copy of the MTA rules of conduct with him when he was arrested.
The worst fire in North American history took place on this date in 1871. The story is part of an essay on the Peshtigo Fire Cemetery page here on Landmark Hunter.
There were five fires in the Midwest that fateful night, including one you might have heard of in Chicago. There were other fires that night, most people are not aware of them. As bad as it was, the worst fire that night was not in Chicago.
After one month, LandmarkHunter.com is doing quite nicely. I had originally imported photos of approximately 1,200 landmarks from the Historic American Buildings Survey/Historic American Engineering Record. Since then, thanks to your uploaded photos, the number of photographed landmarks has more than doubled: 2,573 at last count. Who knew there were so many barns with painted advertisements?
New features added in July:
Advanced Uploader tool for uploading multiple photos at a time. The system will try to use the best method supported by your browser. On recent browsers, it will automatically resize your photos before uploading them.
States, counties, and tag pages all have an Exhibit option. This is the same tool used on Bridgehunter.com letting you interactively hide and show markers on the map.
Trip Planner feature lets you enter a starting and ending location for your trip and then see all of the landmarks that are within a short distance along the route. It seems to work best for shorter trips (50-200 miles), but you can divide a long roadtrip into multiple sections. This feature is also available on Bridgehunter.com.
The oldest extant structure in Delavan, Wisconsin is in peril. Delavan is a city rich in historic heritage and prominant citizens are attempting to save the structure from demolition.
Israel Stowell was a transplanted temperance supporter and he joined the Phoenix Brothers in Delavan, who founded the city as a colony for temperance and abolitionists. Stowell built a hotel in 1839, meant to be a stagecoach overnght stop between Madison and Chicago. The hotel catered to Baptists, Yankees and those who did not indulge in the use of alcohol. If you weren't in one of those categories, you were turned away.
The temperance movement came to a close in Delavan in the mid 1840s. In 1847, Edmund and Jerimiah Mabie selected Delavan as the winter quarters for their U.S. Olympic Circus, the largest traveling show in the country at the time. After the collapse of the temperance movement, the Temperance House changed hands numerous times and at one point, in a strange twist of irony, it was a tavern. Its last commercial use was as a used book store. One can see shelves of books remaining inside the building.
The owner of the books, the closed bookstore and the building itself is 87 years old. He is in the process of donating the house to the Delavan Historical Society. (Most of the bookstore inventory has actually been removed to reduce the load on the structure.)
The house is in bad shape and is in peril of demolition. A banner attached to the front pleads for help to save the historic structure. It is thought to be the oldest building in Delavan and according to the Wisconsin Historical Society, is the last temperance house in the state.
The Israel Stowell Temperance House was condemned and scheduled for demolition on July 1, 2010. As of this writing, the house still stands. The demolition order was extended and recently has been lifted. On July 27, 2010, a consultant inspected the property to examine the possibility of saving the structure. Members of the city government have speculated on the restoration of the house in order to use it as a resource center for historical research and possibly to house the offices of the historical society.
The results of the study are due approximately October 1.
For most landmarks, I've included links to the appropriate USGS topographic quadrangle map. At one time the original TIFF files for these maps were hard to find, but they can now be found on archive.org.
Scanned PDF files of the National Register of Historic Places nomination forms are available online for some states, including Missouri, Alaska, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Nevada, North Dakota, Utah, Wyoming and the District of Columbia. I've added links to these documents where possible.
Missouri maintains an extensive database of springs, including coordinates and average water flow. I've incorporated over 300 of the largest Missouri springs into this site. If you know of other similar databases that might be appropriate to include in this website, please let me know.
If you don't already have a Bridgehunter.com editor's account, you can now sign up for a Landmarkhunter.com account. Due to a constant barrage by spammers and troublemakers, I currently have to manually approve each sign up. (I haven't even publicized the sign-up form yet, and I've already had to filter out three spammers who tried to register!)