Monday, May 8, 2017

Springtime at the Blue Heron Wildlife Sanctuary

Blue Heron is a 90-plus acre wildlife sanctuary, which was once a farm, and has been dedicated to protect native wildlife and plants. The property is on the west bank of the Milwaukee River, contains a pond and a number of streams, and is open to the public during daylight hours. Members of the public are welcome to walk Blue Heron's trails, take a boardwalk to the pond (north and west of the log-cabin style visitor center, picnic along the Milwaukee River (follow the trail from the parking lot down to the River), or snowshoe or cross-country ski in the winter. Enjoy the scenery and the diverse plants and animals.




Bordering the Milwaukee River, the Blue Heron Sanctuary has seemingly endless well maintained trails for hiking year round and cross-country skiing in winter. The trails move through different habitats including wooded areas and grasslands. President of the board, Annamarie Dittmar, said that otters have been sighted on the river as well.




The sanctuary is also part of an animal rehab program. Wild animals are rescued and afterward released onto the property.





Monday, April 10, 2017

Solvay Coke, the ideal fuel

... and the land can be yours for $4,200,000

The Solvay Coke & Gas plant originally opened in 1906 and closed its doors in April, 1983. Plans to demolish the expansive site have been in the works for years, but the intensive cleanup efforts mandated by the EPA have put this plant in limbo. It is, after all, a Superfund site: arsenic, lead, asbestos, and a whole host of other chemicals have been mixed into the ground.



The 46-acre Solvay Coke & Gas site is privately owned, and discussions over its future have centered on whether it should become a light industrial park or mixed-use commercial and housing development. It has been tied up in a bankruptcy lawsuit for years, and is contaminated.




A federal bankruptcy judge in Illinois last month signed off on a plan to sell the land this spring. Wisconsin Gas, a subsidiary of WEC Energy Group in Milwaukee, is the leading bidder to buy the property with a $4 million offer. WEC Energy has said it wants to work with the city and Harbor District to revitalize the property, but hasn’t released any specific plans.

The court-appointed receiver overseeing the property has hired Hilco Real Estate LLC of Northbrook Ill., to market the property to other potential bidders. Other companies must submit offers of at least $4.2 million by March 21. If any competing bids emerge, an auction will be held April 3.




“This site could essentially be the keystone for any future development of Milwaukee’s harbor area, especially given its proximity to the interstate and public transportation,” said Joel Schneider, senior vice president of Hilco Real Estate.



HERE is the source and some history…

HERE is a collection of images from the past…

These images have been digitally processed in Lightroom, MacPhun Software and have a texture overlay.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Northwestern Mutual Tower and Commons... building the future

Northwestern Mutual is investing in a signature development that reflects a financially strong and growing company in a flourishing city with growth potential. The success and growth seen in the design of our new building will help lead the way in attracting and retaining top talent and new business to Milwaukee.

Check out the building designs HERE

A few progress images:

November 2015





2016 from the MAM Lakefront Festival of the Arts

April 3, 2017






The original Northwestern Mutual on the left...



More details from URBAN MILWAUKEE


Monday, March 13, 2017

The Cedarburg Settlement, Cedarburg Wisconsin

See the YouTube video HERE

Current events HERE

Cedar Creek Settlement is housed in a mid-19th century stone woolen mill, making it a visually delightful place–indoors and out–doors in which to shop.


Becoming the Cedar Creek Settlement
During the war years the mill was a major supplier of wool blankets for the war effort. In 1945 the mill stopped it’s weaving operation and stopped making blankets. After World War II the mill continued specialty hand weaving yarns and other items like caps and tassels for the wholesale trade.

In 1969 the mill ceased operations and was put up for sale. The Wittenberg family, headed by Carl Wittenberg, accepted an offer from developers who wanted to tear the mill down and put up a gas station. Stephen Fischer, the mayor of Cedarburg at the time, was a preservationist and asked Carl Wittenberg to allow him 6 months to find an alternative buyer to preserve the buildings. That 6 month period ended in February of 1972.

In 1972 the mill had been empty for almost two years and the roof leaked, many windows over 800 were broken and the mill was a cold dank place.

In May of 1972, the wine shop and tasting room were opened to the public. In 1973, shops on the first floor were added, and in 1974 shops were added on the second floor and in 1978 completed the 3rd floor as artists’ studios and limited retail.



The mill in those years became a major tourist destination and helped bring vitality to downtown Cedarburg.








As part of the marketing effort, festivals were decided on as a major focus. In September of 1973 we held our first Wine Harvest Festival. In February of 1974 we added the Winter Festival. In June of 1986 we added the first Strawberry Festival.

Notes on the history of the Wittenberg Woolen Mill from Jim Pape

Festivals seen HERE

See the YouTube video HERE


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

The Essence of the Brady Street Neighborhoods...

See the video slide show HERE




Milwaukee’s Brady Street neighborhood, bounded by the Milwaukee River, Lake Michigan, Ogdon Avenue, and Kane Place, is arguably the most densely-populated square mile in the state of Wisconsin. A mix of historic shops, single-family homes, apartments, and condos. Brady Street boasts of great diversity that draws from many distinct eras. It began in the mid-19th century as a crossroads between middle-class Yankees from the East and early German settlers. Polish and Italian immigrants soon followed, working the mills, tanneries, and breweries that lined the riverbank. After these groups had assimilated and many of their descendants moved to the suburbs, the hippies in the 1960s arrived with their counterculture to fill the void. By the 1980s, the area fell into blight, neglect, and decay; now, a true model for new urbanism, the Brady Street neighborhood is in the midst of a renaissance.





Named in 1840, Brady Street has been the Lower East Side’s main drag since the late-19th century. Early on, the neighborhood mostly attracted working-class residents and its main street always blended commerce and housing. St. Hedwig’s Catholic Church, the street’s towering landmark, was built in 1886 to anchor the Polish community. It’s one of several buildings faced in the city’s distinctive Cream City brick.



See the video slide show HERE