In Milwaukee History

If it's one of the participating sites at next year's Doors Open Milwaukee, you should definitely check out Orlandini Studios.

Doors Open MKE 2018 looked like another smash success

Though I've yet to receive any specific numbers, judging by my own social media echo chamber, Historic Milwaukee's annual Doors Open Milwaukee was a smashing success this weekend.

There were more than 170 participating sites this year, staffed with volunteers – thank you!!!! – and more than 40 expert-led tours. (In past years, I've done one, but this year it didn't come together. Next year.)

I had friends who went to, quite literally, dozens of venues over the course of the two-day event.

And some venues drew huge crowds.

Every place I visited, or passed by, appeared to have folks coming and going, which makes me think the final numbers be will quite impressive.

Thanks to the normal weekend commitments of life I only made it to a handful of venues, which I'm sharing here in hopes that you will add the ones you visited – and which was your favorite – in a comment.

On Saturday, because I was out that way for a soccer game, I dragged one of my kids to see Frank Lloyd Wright's Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, 9440 W. Congress St., which I hadn't been inside in years.

Unsurprisingly, it was as gorgeous as ever and appeared to be a popular spot even early on day one of Doors Open and despite the fact that there weren't many other venues out that way.

Next, we visited Orlandini Studios, 633 W. Virginia St., in Walker's Point, which is one I've always wanted to get to but somehow never had.

Here, Eugene Orlandini – the third generation owner of this family business – was on hand to talk about the Orlandinis' plaster tradition and history.

It was pretty cool just to be able to see the studio where the plaster restoration and creation work takes place and to see walls full of objects created there. The front room on the main floor also has a pretty stunning plaster ceiling.

The kids got to take home some small plaster details that they plan to paint.

Afterward, we walked through a bit of the 5th Street Festival and popped over to check out Casa Romero, which occupies a lovely 1887 Romanesque Revival former convent of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.

It was interesting to hear about the work that Casa Romero does as an urban retreat and renewal center, but I was disappointed to see that the interior has been almost completely made over, and only a few original details remain.

The sisters that originally lived here operated the school next door at Holy Trinity/Our Lady of Guadalupe. That building is, to my knowledge, the oldest surviving schoolhouse in the city.

I've never written specifically about the Casa Romero building, but I have posted this about its architects.

On Sunday, we stopped at the Calvary Cemetery chapel and got a great in-depth tour from architect and preservationist Keith Schultz, who is president of the board of Friends of Calvary.

You can get an approximation of that experience here.

Alas, we didn't get inside the service building at the bottom of "Jesuit Hill," which is my favorite structure at Calvary, for its beautiful curved corners and cream city brickwork.

Lastly, we headed up to Bronzeville to get a peek inside the former Garfield Avenue School now that it's conversion to apartments is complete. I was in there a few times while it was closed and again last year while it was being converted, but am eager to see the finished product, but, alas, I misread the schedule and we arrived too late.

Still, I snapped another photo of one of my absolute favorite Henry Koch-designed buildings, which looks better than ever now the the paint has been removed.

If you're hoping to make a marathon out of Doors Open MKE 2019, you've got a year now to rest up.


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