Wrecked Vessel in Walkers Point

Scientists determined the remains of a vessel that were found 20 feet below ground during the construction of New York’s One World Trade Center predated the American Revolution. The wood from the ship’s frame likely came from a Philadelphia-area forest, dating back to 1773. Here in Milwaukee, situated under the 1873-built Nazro Hardware Building at 170 S. Second St., lies a similar story. “Erected on land redeemed from the deep marsh, 20 feet below the floor of the basement lies buried, where it sunk, the hull of a wrecked vessel,” states Milwaukee of Today: The Cream City of the Lakes,…

Paranormal Activity at Pabst?

Photo by Mark Wahl A videographer contacted me and said because I was a historical “dork” like himself, he had something I might be interested in. I graciously accepted the compliment. Michael Brown has spent two years compiling scenes for a historical/haunted documentary called Haunted State: Whispers from History Past. He, along with a group of intrepid ghost busters, visited the old Pabst executive office here in Milwaukee and caught some startlingly ambiguous footage on camera. A few weeks later, he was ready to show the evidence to Pabst’s Best Place owner, Jim Haertel, so I tagged along. Jim told…

Moore Strong

I called Moore home last year, May 20. It was hard to focus on anything but the sky that day. It was pitch black even before noon, with only lightning flashes to interrupt the day-become-night. Tornado sirens alarmed at work, and the shelter was soon packed. The room was alive with chatter until the projector started up and Oklahoma City’s News 4 came on the screen. Intermittently between power outages, the screen showed an F-5 tornado ripping everything apart. Debris flew, and if it weren’t for the weatherman’s updates, we wouldn’t have recognized its location. The screen zoomed in on 149th and…

Leaning Building on Water

Photo on left courtesy of Milwaukee Public Library, believed to have been taken in 1910. Photo on right courtesy of Mark Wahl, taken 104 years later in 2014. The Weisel building stands about as upright as its tipsy Water Street bar patrons. Just looking at Pourman’s Pub, it’s hard to not notice the structure is leaning. Its wood-pile foundations are breaking down below, and much like several Downtown Milwaukee structures, it continues to sink over time – see Bloomberg’s recent coverage of the ongoing issue. Step inside the pub and you automatically take in its old-world charm, though at the same time, you feel…

Taken Aback by Pabst

I’ve found the most buried-from-mind buildings while cursing my GPS and praying I didn’t turn up another one-way street. A few years ago, that happened with the Pabst brewery. Finding it was an accident. And once I did, I stood there gawking over this city of bricks, wanting learn more about this piece of Milwaukee history.  With the recent talk about  bringing back Pabst, I wanted even more to get inside these old buildings. Although the restoration efforts at the site are impressive, I wanted to see the dustiness that once was Pabst—the areas that are closed off because of safety and uncertainty. Those that leave you thinking “I could probably…

If These Walls Could Talk

Photos by Mark Wahl Light peeks through windows in the Ward Memorial Hall, dimly noting the ornate architectural detail and reflecting off shattered glass on the floor. Milwaukee VA Medical Center public relations director, Gary Kunich, and project manager, Matthew Cryer, ascend toward the top level of the Ward Memorial Hall auditorium wearing hardhats. The stairs creak below them with each step. Fog dissipates from their breath as they speak. Continuing upstairs, they walk past different generations of seating – some iron, some wooden. Each harkens back to a different time and place in entertainment: vaudeville, silent film, color. The…

Germania Building

I sat in a covered bus stop at 2nd and Wells, not waiting for a bus but hiding from a brisk wind. My attention drifted across the street to a row of empty buildings. In one vacant structure sat a room filled floor-to-ceiling with boxes. The next was full of boarded-up windows of plywood. The Germania Building is a powerful-looking structure. The name is a nice fit. Designed by German architects Schnetzky and Liebert, it cost $300,000 to build it in 1896. (That’s about $8 million today.) It was home to the largest German-language publishing company in the country and…

Introducing ‘Intersections’

Photo by Susan Robinson I call an Oklahoma oil boomtown home. Just south of Tulsa, my hometown has a few stop lights, a Walmart, Sonic and a handful of other small-town necessities. The streets are lined with old mansions and houses, lawns neatly kept. It’s a small town, a cute town at first glimpse. You see families having dinner at the diner, and you know everyone by name. The streets are flooded with church-goers on Sunday mornings; their chatter fills a normally quiet scene. Old brick buildings cast shadows over streets, reflecting its golden days of prosperity. All of these things…