Like many longstanding MPS schools, a trip into the basement uncovers some cool Milwaukee history.
In the case of Benjamin Franklin School, 2308 W. Nash St., you’ll find evidence of a bomb shelter from it’s nearly 100 year history.
Underneath a basement staircase, a half dozen (or so) 55-gallon drums of Civil Defense water are still stacked in place, ready to be cracked open in the event of an air attack.
At least that was the intent during World War II.
Though the water likely isn’t still potable — or even necessary these days — it serves as an interesting and eerie reminder of the bleak wartime paranoia people felt a generation ago.
In fact, OnMilwaukee’s Bobby Tanzilo says school staff wasn’t even aware of the water barrels until his recent visit to the school for this week’s Urban Spelunking.
Besides the bomb shelter basement, the school also has lots of other interesting old schoolhouse details.
Beautiful woodwork, an ornate performance stage and a large, original fireplace survive inside.
They just don’t make ’em like they used to.