Historic Third Ward tavern donated to preservation alliance, ending demolition debate

From the Article:

One of the Third Ward’s oldest buildings that last year was a prospect for potential demolition on Wednesday was donated to the nonprofit Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, which intends to preserve and restore it.

The donation resolves a preservation debate over the historic tavern at 266 E. Erie St., parts of which date to 1884. Milwaukee officials last year rejected General Capital Group and Joseph Property Development’s application to demolish the structure. The developers said its condition made a restoration financially impossible, and that it would essentially require a full reconstruction.

After the city of Milwaukee in September rejected the demolition application, members of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance reached out to see if they could help, said executive director Emma Rudd. Those executive board members, including Peter Zanghi and Claude Krawczyk, worked primarily with Linda Gorens-Levey of General Capital, and reached the agreement for the developers to donate the building to the alliance to be preserved, Rudd said.

“It aligns perfectly with our mission,” she said. “At the end of the day, this is something we were willing to take on that not many would.”

The alliance is prepared to first stabilize the building, stopping further water leakage through its roof, and building scaffolding to brace an exterior brick wall that had been shifting. The long-term restoration will require fundraising and further planning, Rudd said, and will be an extensive effort. The funding for that work would include private donations and potential historic tax credits.

Beyond its deteriorating interior and roof, the building’s foundations will require extensive repair or replacement. An exterior wall will have to be taken apart and rebuild brick-by-brick, Rudd said.

“This is a beautiful, rich historic building that needs love from the ground up,” she said. “We want to use this building not only as an opportunity to promote our mission, but to use it for educational purposes, to see preservation as it happens."

A future use has not been identified for the restored building, Rudd said.

The building is notable because it is among fewer than 10 that survived the 1892 fire that wiped out much of the Third Ward. Its more recent history also includes housing the Wreck Room Saloon, a popular gathering space for the LGBTQ community.

It was most recently a Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design student union before a fire forced its closure in 2013. General Capital and Joseph Property acquired the building in 2014.



I have mixed feelings, but hope that they are successful in their efforts… it would suck to see it decay there for another 20 years while they struggle to find the appropriate funding.

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