Historic Turner Hall Hangs New Signs to Keep Up with 'Really Cool' Neighbors

Three vintage-inspired signs bring a modern feel to a preserved Milwaukee building.

Walking down Vel R. Phillips Avenue, it’s easy to overlook the historic cream brick building on the corner. Most eyes go directly to the giant arena on the next block with its massive windows and abstract shape. 

In fairness to Turner Hall, it’s easy to be overshadowed by the towering Fiserv Forum. The facility has reshaped the city of Milwaukee and created the beloved Deer District. As far as neighbors go, Fiserv Forum is a head-turner. 

But Turner Hall is a building worth noticing. Built in 1882, it’s one of just a handful of National Historic Landmarks in the city of Milwaukee, and to this day remains an active part of the district’s bustling culture.

The ballroom hosts more than 200 events a year, the lower-level climbing gym is one of the oldest in North America and Tavern at Turner Hall has been a welcomed addition since its opening in 2018. 

To “keep up with these really cool new guys” in their neighborhood, the leaders in the Pabst Theater Group decided to add some flare to the building’s facade. They quite literally put the hall’s name in lights. 

There are three signs in total. A vertical sign lights up the building’s namesake, a small circular sign lists climbing and gymnastics and the last introduces the tavern. All three are lit up with red neon. 

Photo by Alex Walzak, Pabst Theater Group

The signs may be brand new, but their look feels vintage. It’s a tribute to the history of a building that has stood prominently on this block for 137 years.

Turner Hall, Pabst Theater Group and city leaders gathered Friday to celebrate the installation of the new signage. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett  spoke and described Turner Hall as an “important part of this community.”

If you want to see the signs, there are events Friday and Saturday to celebrate the new look. But if you can’t make it this weekend, don’t feel too rushed. Like the building itself, these signs will be around for a long time. 

[alert type=white ]“Turner Hall is a historical fixture in our community that embodies a rich history while keeping up with the modern development around it,” CEO of the Pabst Theater Group Gary Witt said.[/alert]


Event Details

What: $5 Fish Fry with a drink at the Tavern Turner
When: Friday, August 9, from 5-8 p.m. 
Where: Tavern Turner, 1034 N Vel R. Phillips Ave

What: Pig Roast in the parking lot with yard games, gym demonstrations, a bounce pad and music
When: Saturday, August 10, from 1-7 p.m.
Where: Tavern Turner Parking Lot




Alli Watters is the digital and culture editor at Milwaukee Magazine. That means that in addition to running this website, she covers art, entertainment, style, home and more for the magazine. It also means she doesn't sleep much.