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Transforming the former McKinley School to serve military families

Every week on “Urban Spelunking,” Radio Milwaukee’s Nate Imig and OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo dig into the buildings and architectural features that help retain the city’s sense of history while it builds for the future. Subscribe wherever you get your podcasts, and explore our previous episodes .

Seeing a previously crumbling part of Milwaukee’s history get new life is always gratifying. But certain projects take it up another level. The former McKinley School at 2001 W. Vilet St. is one of those projects.

After years of little to no progress — and even some regression — the site is getting another life courtesy of Gorman & Company, which will convert the building to 38 two- and three-bedroom apartments, and a single one-bedroom unit. As Bobby found out from Ted Matkom, Gorman’s Wisconsin market president, the company has a particular resident demographic in mind:

“Like we did at Valor on East Washington in Madison, we’re going for veteran families to make this a military community — veterans and active military,” Matkom explained. “Veterans always get left out of the affordable housing equation. We’re starting to reach out to them now. They can be hard to reach.”

Portions of the building date back to 1885, with several additions before Milwaukee Public School stopped operating the site in the late 1970s and ultimately sold it to a daycare. Vacant since 2013, time — and vandals — weren’t kind to the structure. But the project has made significant progress, which you can see in the gallery below.

Listen to our discussion about the former McKinley School, and get all the details about the site’s history and future in Bobby’s story over at OnMilwaukee.

Director of Digital Content | Radio Milwaukee