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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Today's stream is sponsored by Maxie's

Restoring the Old Soldiers Home

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  • The 500-bed residence house, known as Old Main, closed in 1989. It is the largest building on the grounds. Image courtesy Milwaukee Preservation Alliance.

A local organization is trying to save a group of Civil War era buildings on the grounds of the Zablocki V.A. Medical Center and reopen them to serve veterans.

Known as the Old Soldier's Home, the historic buildings sit directly behind where Miller Park stands today.  The non-profit group Milwaukee Preservation Alliance is leading the effort to attract people to the site, which is a designated national landmark. 

The nearly 100-acre village of historic buildings was originally built to help soldiers recover from their injuries after the Civil War.  The campus was self-sustaining, complete with a boarding house, theater, chapel, train station and private residences.  

Today, the four most achitecturally significant buildings on the campus have closed.  But MPA hopes to change that.

In the last year, it has developed a mobile app that directs users on a walking tour of the campus.  It is also raising funds to construct signs above I94 pointing travelers to the site.  Eventually, the group hopes veteran-serving programming will resume in the Historic District.

It's a work in progress, and no concrete use has been determined yet for the vacant buildings in the event they were restored.  

Click the podcast player to hear from Megan Daniels, Project Manager with MPA.