Coalition of groups seeks to raise $4.25 million for restoration effort

A month before he was assassinated, Abraham Lincoln helped create a new system of housing for veterans. The Milwaukee Soldiers Home was one of the first three in the country. It acted as a sanctuary and refuge for veterans before it closed its doors in 1989. Now it’s getting a face-lift.

Community organizations and volunteers on Tuesday launched a fundraising campaign to help transform the abandoned Old Main and five other buildings into 101 housing units, for veterans and their families, who are either homeless or in danger of becoming homeless. 

The team that is heading up the fundraising campaign has a goal of  $4.25 million, which they say will leverage $36 million in secured, private investments.  The project is being undertaken by the Milwaukee Housing Authority and Madison developers The Alexander Co.

“When these buildings were first constructed, they were designed as a refuge and healing place for veterans,” said Jim Duff, Milwaukee County Veterans Service Officer and member of the campaign’s leadership team. “There are critical needs in the veteran community that can be met through this project.”

Ward Theater. Photo courtesy of

The buildings will also offer services for residents, such as peer-to-peer counseling, education training, employment assistance, nutritional support and recreational activities.

Even though some of the structures are deteriorating, many other buildings on the 90-plus-acre property are fully functioning. Upon renovation, the historic interior and exterior features of the Soldiers Home will be intact.

The project is expected to be complete by spring 2019. To learn more or donate to the cause, click here

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