Urban spelunking


Urban spelunking: Haas' colossal Downtown mural

Published June 29, 2020

Though it's only been mentioned in passing during the exciting renovation of the 1930 Warner Grand Theater into the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's new home and performance venue, the 1981 mural on the east side of the building's tower will get a much-needed facelift as part of the massive project.


Urban spelunking: Milwaukee's vintage police call boxes

Published June 22, 2020

Police call boxes that once stood sentinel on street corners all across Milwaukee have been such a part of the landscape for so long that many people don't even notice them. But they're a treasure, reminding us of the continuity of city life here and of a time when we wanted things to not only work well but to look good.


Hidden gem: Fluid on 2nd

Published June 5, 2020

You may have noticed that after two decades, Fluid on 2nd, 819 S. 2nd St., in Walker's Point, recently changed its logo. That new design also gave owner Bill Wardlow inspiration for a theme for this year's holiday decor in the tavern, which he describes as, "a progressive gay bar ... open to everyone."


Urban spelunking: Acts Housing / former St. Michael's convent

Published June 2, 2020

You can see the soaring St. Michael's Catholic Church steeple - the second-tallest in town - from everywhere in its West Side neighborhood. But get close and at least as striking as the church is the 1885 former convent at 2414 W. Vliet St., now home to Acts Housing.


Urban spelunking: Whitehead pet monument and horse fountain

Published May 27, 2020

Do you ever wonder how many cities have a rather centrally located private pet cemetery topped with a public monument by a respected artist, the unveiling of which was attended by the mayor? Well, we know one for sure: Milwaukee.


Urban spelunking: Washington Park bandshell / Blatz Temple of Music

Published May 21, 2020

Most Wednesday nights during the summer, there's music at the beautiful art deco bandshell in Washington Park, thanks to a series curated by Washington Park Neighbors association, which for the past four years has rekindled a longstanding tradition in the park, one that embraces live music to build community.


Urban spelunking: Former Zinn / Kurth Malting silos, site of future Harbor Yards

Published April 27, 2020

Announced in September, the Mandel Group's $150 million Harbor Yards mixed-use development with a hotel, apartments, office space, public green space and more will remake the south bank of the Milwaukee River as it heads out to the lake. I went to see the former malting silos there before they come down.


(Sub) Urban spelunking: Little Meadowmere in Mequon

Published April 21, 2020

Tucked away on County Line Road in Mequon, just west of Wauwatosa Road is a charming little farm at the end of a driveway flanked by stone posts. This place has a great history and it can be yours!


Urban spelunking: North Shore Bank's North End branch

Published April 16, 2020

Last week, Brookfield-based North Shore Bank opened its new branch in an area that's come to be known as the North End. The branch, at 510 E. Pleasant St., was announced in 2018 and combines new construction with a brick house that appears to have been built in 1880.


Urban Spelunking: Revamped West Bend Theatre

Published April 8, 2020

The West Bend Theatre opened in the wake of a stock market crash in 1929 and survived. The now-renovated and restored venue celebrated its grand reopening a few weeks ago and was shuttered by the coronavirus social distancing that very same night.


10 Milwaukee-area places to visit virtually right now

Published March 24, 2020

Here are 10 places you can visit with me virtually, by clicking the links, where you'll find not only history, but tons of videos and sometimes video inside a variety of interesting places I've visited ...


Brewery spelunking: Enlightened Brewing / Louis Allis Company

Published March 3, 2020

Even if you'd never visited one of Enlightened Brewing's previous spaces - not far from its current home at 2020 S. Allis St. in Bay View - you'd be right to think the new place is pretty expansive, with its roughly 14,000 square feet.


Urban Spelunking: The fauna of Eschweiler's former Philipp Elementary

Published Feb. 25, 2020

I admit that I've had a love affair with the former Emanuel L. Philipp School, 4310 N. 16th St., since I first stepped inside it six years ago. In fact, I was charmed before I even crossed the threshold, in part by the representations of fauna that adorn the entrance.