It’s one of those buildings that’s been a million different things, each of them reflecting a distinct period in Milwaukee history. (Ok, maybe a not a million, but close!)
From a dairy company, to a horse trader, to a broom factory, to a row boat manufacturer, to a laundry press and more, the empty William P. Froehlich paper warehouse at Vel R. Phillips Avenue and Vliet Street dates back to the 1880s. You’ve probably seen it if you’ve circled the block looking for street parking around Fiserv Forum.
And it won’t be vacant for much longer. Find out what the future holds for this unique Milwaukee building below.
The building has been purchased by Patrick Prabhu and Karl Rajani, who plan to add to the building and open a hotel, writes OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo.
The building itself is in somewhat rough shape. The roof needs extensive repair and the inside suffers from years of neglect. But you can’t beat the location!
The owners have set an aggressive timeline with the goal of opening the hotel ahead of the Democratic National Convention next year.
“We’re thinking ‘downtown’ will be in there, ‘lofts’ will be in there,” Prabhu says, quoted in Bobby’s story. “Downtown Lofts Haymarket is the name we came up with for now or Haymarket Lofts. And then it’ll say Trademark Collection by Wyndham.”
Bob Norman is the director of human resources at Eppstein Uhen Architects. He has spent majority of his career at the firm, first as a project manager then eventually leading the company’s HR department.
I asked him what it was like sitting on the other side of the interview.
“It’s nerve wracking,” he says with a laugh. “I’m trying to think of what I’m saying; am I saying ‘um’ too much?”
I met Bob through the Wisconsin Parkinson Association. He’s at the height of his career right now, but every day, he deals with a mild form of Parkinson’s disease.
“I was eventually diagnosed in 2012. It was interesting because the initial reaction was, ‘Oh my gosh, I have Parkinson’s.’ And then the next reaction was, ‘Well, great, at least I know what it is and then can deal with it,'” he says.
For years prior to his diagnosis, he has been dealing with symptoms, but he didn’t know the cause. It was frustrating to say the least.
And diagnosing Parkinson’s disease is tricky. There is no test. Instead, it’s more of a clinical process of elimination with your doctor, looking at how symptoms present themselves.
For Bob, even though his case is mild, he still deals with daily fatigue and has trouble getting his body moving.
“I have to sort of warm up. It’s like a cold car in the morning. I creak a little bit, and I’m moving a bit more slowly in the morning.”
But he says the biggest difference-maker has been getting regular exercise. He has been taking it even more seriously the last few years, waking up before dawn for regular workouts with the November Project.
And beyond physical activity, he says connecting with other people living with Parkinson’s helps a lot, too.
He’s part of the “Working Professionals with Parkinson’s: Cocktails and Conversations” group. It’s a purely social program offered by the Wisconsin Parkinson association.
Tonight, the group is duckpin bowling at Thirsty Duck in Wauwatosa.
“We meet at a restaurant or a place where we talk about Parkinson’s a little bit. And then we talk about the struggles that we’ve had or are having, share advice on how to communicate with our coworkers,” Bob says. “But really it’s also a community to just talk with people that understand what we may either be going through or have gone through before.”
Combined with exercise, Bob says having a support network helps, and he gets a lot of joy from being there for others. All of it together keeps his outlook positive, which is so important, he says.
“Everyone has things that they’re dealing with. So I don’t need to have a pity party for me, because I know people are going home and dealing with other things, too. That’s just my ‘thing.'”
The support group gets together every month. On May 15 it visits Matty’s Bar & Grille in New Berlin. On June 27 it meets at the Milwaukee Ale House. Both meetings start at 5 p.m. and include appetizers and a cash bar.
America’s Black Holocaust Museum is a gorgeous new development at Vel R. Phillips Ave. and North Ave. It offers an honest and emotional look the injustice African Americans have faced throughout American history, including the brutal emergence of the slave trade, the shameful rise of the KKK and photos of lynchings from the early 1900s.
It concludes with an exhibit about mass incarceration and police violence, shedding light on the disparities that still exist today. The museum is opening soon, according to director Brad Pruitt, though a date has not been formally announced.
For our second stop, we visited the former Wisconsin Avenue School, a gorgeous 1919 schoolhouse on 27th and Wisconsin Ave.
It has been vacant for several years and is currently undergoing renovation. It will eventually reopen as an extension of the Ambassador Hotel, offering extended-stay boutique suites inside of the old classrooms. During our visit, owner Rick Wiegand gave us free reign to explore all floors of the expansive building, including classrooms, the auditorium and basement gymnasium.
We closed out the tour at Wisconsin Knitwear, an unassuming building on 11th and Lincoln Ave. You wouldn’t know it from the outside, but the company is the only maker of knit hats in the state, and business is going strong.
Owner Steven Arenzon showed us around the knitting factory, which was closed for production on the day of our visit. He demonstrated the fleet of 1940s machines still in use today, and proudly showed off the hats his company has made for musicians like Wilco and Dr. Dog.
Take a look at the gallery below, and follow the links to revisit our spelunking journey.
Based on positive feedback from attendees, we hope to do a similar event in the future. We’ll keep you posted!
Paying attention to weather patterns and looking for official climate updates from places like the Farmer’s Almanac can be crucial to maintaining a garden in Milwaukee. The weather is unpredictable in our city so leave it to the experts to tell us what kind of conditions to expect and how to plan a garden around those patterns.
One easy detail that everyone can pay attention to is the possibility of frost. Milwaukee’s last frost day is estimated to be around May 20th while the first frost day is expected around September 26th. These days are just rough estimates, but the state of Wisconsin normally has a little over 100 days between its last frost and first frost days, according to the gardening website Urban Farmer. Planting seeds between these dates is one strategy for more successful growth.
Every vegetable also has its own season where it tends to grow the best. For example, planting onions, peppers and tomatoes in the beginning of April indoors, then transferring them and planting them outside during July and August tends to yield a harvest around mid-September in Milwaukee’s climate.
On the other hand, crops like spinach and kale have shorter growing cycles and can be harvested multiple times throughout the growing season. Planting spinach or kale indoors during early April and then transferring the seeds outdoors in late May will usually produce strong results by late June.
Here’s a handy infographic with more vegetables and their growing seasons in Milwaukee.
Another good way to sustain a healthy Milwaukee garden is to check in with local garden centers and attend their events or look for tips from their experts.
Alice’s Garden is one organization that strives to provide models of regenerative farming as well as cultural development for the Milwaukee community.
Victory Garden Initiative is another organization with similar goals. Its mission is centered around building “communities that grow their own food, creating a socially-just, environmentally sustainable, nutritious food system for all.”
And for those who need a little help getting their garden started, VGI also hosts the annual Victory Garden Blitz where over 300 volunteers install hundreds of raised bed gardens in backyards, front yards, schools, community centers, places of worship and according to their website, “just about anywhere you can imagine.” Now in its 11th year, this year’s Victory Garden Blitz will take place from May 11th-May 25th.