Filled with bright spots and dark corners, Milwaukee can seem almost Gothic.
Wood National Cemetery
Few people visit this cemetery on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center, 5000 W. National Ave. “It’s a single graveyard, but it’s subdivided by conflict and has a number of large monuments,” says local historian John Gurda. He also recommends checking out the old Town of Milwaukee cemetery on Port Washington Road just north of Bayshore and the very old Jewish cemetery at the intersection of Hopkins and Chambers streets, which dates to 1849. “That one’s really hidden,” he says. “When I was doing the Jewish history, I had to shimmy under a chain-link fence to get a photo of the last monument standing.”
Many Third Ward buildings still bear the faded remnants of painted signs advertising such products as candy, warm winter coats and bed linens. Preserved under city code, the signs date from the early 20th century, with one exception: the well-known Sen-Sen lozenges sign on the north side of the Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway). It was first painted in 1968 for a Hollywood musical, “Gaily, Gaily,” that was filmed partly in the old Third Ward.
Newhall House Mass Grave
A grand, old hotel in Downtown Milwaukee, the Newhall House, caught fire in the early morning hours of Jan. 10, 1883. As flames raged at the intersection of Michigan and Broadway streets, at least 70 people died, including dozens who were burned beyond recognition. Approximately 64 unidentified bodies were later interred in a special mass grave at Forest Home Cemetery (2405 W. Forest Home Ave.), where a tall spire still stands in their memory.
Monument to Christopher Latham Sholes
Perhaps no inventor did more than Milwaukee’s own Christopher Latham Sholes to engineer the modern typewriter. Among other innovations, Sholes designed the QWERTY keyboard layout that we (for the most part) still use. In honor of the state rep, newspaper editor and Lincoln appointee, who died in 1890, a pale monument watches over his grave on the western end of the massive and winding Forest Home Cemetery (2405 W. Forest Home Ave.).