A proposed Shepard Fairey mural, based on this poster of his, has been denied by the city's Historic Preservation Commission.
A proposed Shepard Fairey mural, based on this poster of his, has been denied by the city's Historic Preservation Commission.

Organizer of voting rights mural says denial is problematic for artists

On Monday, the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission voted 5-0 (with one abstention) to deny the application of Wallpapered City to have artist Shepard Fairey paint a large mural in support of voting rights on the side of the Railway Exchange Building at 229 E. Wisconsin Ave.

The effect, says mural organizer and local artist Stacey Williams-Ng, could be chilling for local artists.

Fairey is the creator of the recognizable Obama "HOPE" campaign image.

The 1899 building, one of the city’s first skyscrapers, is designated as historic by the city, and any exterior changes require permission from the HPC.

Because she owns the Railway Exchange Building, committee member Patti Keating-Kahn abstained from the vote.

When the Fairey mural became public in early July, a letter signed by more than 100 community members was sent to the committee, saying, "We find it troubling that our city’s arts institutions and funders would consider giving resources to a problematic white male artist who purports to represent BIPOC people, but has not reached out to Milwaukee’s BIPOC artists."

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Wallpapered City called those concerns, "very important and wholly justified," adding that they were, however, "cloaked in misunderstanding and assumptions about the nature of the project, and the artist."

Others opposed it based on plagiarism claims leveled against the artist, on the basis that it has a political message and on the size of the mural.

The HPC said it was concerned about painting the mural on unpainted brick and is working on guidelines for this type of artwork on masonry. Those guidelines are not yet complete, leading the members to deny the request on those grounds, to avoid creating a potential precedent.

However, Williams-Ng calls the decision, "an overreach, (because) there is currently no ordinance in place to allow the HPC explicit control over murals on historical buildings."

In advance of the meeting, the committee sa…

After 27 years, Murf's Waukesha is closed.
After 27 years, Murf's Waukesha is closed. (Photo: Murf's Facebook)

Murf's closes Waukesha frozen custard stand

On Tuesday, Jerry Murphy closed the Murf's Frozen Custard at 1345 S. West Ave. in Waukesha.

The burger and custard location at 12505 Burleigh Rd. in Brookfield will remain open.

"I've been doing this 39 years now," says owner Jerry Murphy, "and it was just time to simplify to one location."

The shop closed Tuesday after having been, "carefully orchestrated to get it right," says Murphy.

Murphy opened the Waukesha stand in 1993. The Brookfield location followed six years later.

Murphy got his start working at Kopps in 1981 and then managed Sweets Frozen Custard on the northwest side during college.

He helped Fred Miller open Freddy's in Mequon in 1990 and ultimately ended up buying that stand.

Murphy declined to name the new buyer of the Waukesha stand, but said a sale is in the process.

As for whether or not it will be a custard stand, he says, "I can't reveal that right now, but more than likely it will be."

The conversion of St. James Episcopal Church into St. James 1868, a wedding and events venue is now basically complete.
The conversion of St. James Episcopal Church into St. James 1868, a wedding and events venue is now basically complete.

Urban spelunking: St. James 1868 revisit

Things were not looking good at St. James Episcopal Church, 833 W. Wisconsin Ave., when I visited in 2013.

Don’t get me wrong, the 1868 building was beautiful and full of interesting history (which you can read here), but the congregation had dwindled to just a few dozen and was shrinking all the time.

So, it came as little surprise four years later when news emerged that the church was closing and being soldcfdbqtrdbffuwwea for renovation into a wedding and events venue.

When I returned in January to have owner Katie Crowle show me the work she was undertaking – with Greenfire Construction – to transform the former church complex into that venue, I was amazed by her energy, drive and seemingly unflappable determination as she was in the third year of the project.

Then, just as she was reaching the finish line of a massive renovation project that hit multiple snares – like that unexpected $200,000 sewer line replacement price tag – that didn’t sink her, the coronavirus pandemic hit Milwaukee.

"It’s been pretty upsetting," she says as we stand in the former sanctuary with the project basically finished except for a few touches still taking place.

"And then with no DNC. ... We thought we would get some things off that, but we didn't and that was pretty detrimental. It's been pretty bad."

Either fortunately or unfortunately, the St. James 1868 project was so far along by March, that Crowle couldn’t really pause the work and expenses. But, at the same time, because most of the work was done already, the shutdown didn’t hamper completion.

"On one side it was good, because it was pretty much done," she says now. "There's still a lot of little extra things that took forever and just didn't stop. But to be able to start giving tours and have it look like this, people could finally see the final.

"Now, if they're booking for next year, or for 2022, they feel so much more comfortable. So I'm glad we're not under a construction site anymore, because it was so ha…

The Dock is a step closer to installation on the upper deck of the Bradford Beach bath house.
The Dock is a step closer to installation on the upper deck of the Bradford Beach bath house.

Updated: HPC approves new rooftop container bar for Bradford Beach bath house

At its 3 p.m. meeting on Monday, Aug. 3, the City of Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission unanimously approved a proposal to install a container bar called The Dock atop the upper deck of the bath house at Bradford Beach, 2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Dr.

The bar would be a complement to The Dock restaurant that has opened on the upper deck.

The proposal will now go to the Common Council for final approval, and may still need some approvals at the County level.

According to a document describing the project, prepared for the commission, The Dock would place a modified shipping container transformed into a bar on the top deck of the bath house. The container would have seating at the bar but also table seating arrayed around it.

The commission denied the use of three other modified containers that would've served as three-sided cabana-style seating because they were deemed to big for the space.

The Bradford Beach bath house is owned by Milwaukee County Parks. It is not historically designated by the City of Milwaukee but because it is located in the North Point South Historic District the proposal is subject to Historic Preservation Commission review.

"The objective of The Dock's rooftop renovations is to provide Bradford Beach an elevated, both literally and figuratively, restaurant and gathering space with unparalleled lakefront views, providing the City of Milwaukee a getaway destination right in its own backyard," reads the document. "Housed in the historic Bradford Beach Bath House, The Dock's rooftop seeks to both enhance and pay homage to its unique ship-like appearance with a both industrial and coastal design.

"The rooftop will feature an array of seating options with a weathered/nautical aesthetic for sit-down service, a modern, chic bar, as well as cozy cabana lounges housed in three dynamic 20 foot metal shipping containers. Together, the different rooftop areas including the regular restaurant seating, full service bar, cocktail table array…