Historic Water Tower Neighborhood
Why the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood?
The Historic Water Tower neighborhood, located on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, is at the forefront of historic preservation activism in Milwaukee. The ideas driving the summer 2013 field school – examining practices of historic preservation, stewardship, and ecological conservation – emerged from neighborhood residents. We are thankful to the Historic Water Tower neighborhood residents for welcoming us in their midst and for helping us document their stories. Neighborhood scholars mentored our students and reviewed their projects. The neighborhood association raised funds, provided us with classroom space and helped us in data collection. Residents allowed us to enter their buildings, measure and document them and allowed us to interview them.
This project coincides with the 40-year celebration of the Historic Water Tower neighborhood organization and we mark this occasion by highlighting stellar stories of stewardship by local residents. In this field school, we have documented a few buildings and collected many oral histories of stalwarts and leaders from this neighborhood. We hope that this project will be a precursor to more celebratory collaborations between the neighborhood and the University.
The Historic Water Tower neighborhood has witnessed architectural and social changes over the last four decades. New buildings and businesses appeared, a neighboring beach became a popular public destination, and the retail strip along Downer Avenue has seen businesses come and go. Local preservation and conservation efforts have helped retain historic buildings in the neighborhood even while increasing diversity has led to new conflicts. We seek to explore, examine, highlight, and share myriad neighborhoods stories of community engagement, dreams of a bright future, and fond memories of a rich past.
Shiley D. McArthur, North Point Historic Districts: Milwaukee, (Milwaukee: North Point Historical Society, 1981).
John Gurda, The Making of Milwaukee, (Milwaukee: Milwaukee County Historical Society, 1999).
Arijit Sen, Associate Professor of Architecture, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, www.senspeaks.wordpress.com
Listen to John Gurda’s Talk about East Side’s History (from www.hwtn.org)
Buy the 2013 Field School Monograph
Sponsors: Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Madison, Cultures and Communities Program, School of Architecture and Urban Planning, Department of Architecture, Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Peck School of the Arts, Department of History, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Historic Water Tower Neighborhood, Milwaukee Preservation Alliance