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Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home Recognized as a National Treasure

Dec. 13, 2012

Designation comes as local preservation and veterans’ organizations begin new initiatives to raise awareness of the Soldiers Home

The cluster of historic buildings known as the “Soldiers Home” located on the campus of Milwaukee’s Clement Zablocki VA Medical Center has been named a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The designation means that the National Trust, working alongside the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, elected officials, local preservationists and veterans’ organizations, is committed to a long-term effort to restore these buildings to active use for the service of area veterans and their families.

“The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance and the National Trust have been working with veterans’ organizations and local preservationists in Wisconsin to raise the profile of the Soldiers Home and help save it,” said Dawn McCarthy, president of the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance. “Now that the Soldiers Home has been named a National Treasure, we want to invite the public to see it for themselves and get more involved in efforts to preserve it for the benefit of our military veterans.”

The Soldiers Home was named to the National Trust’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2011 to focus attention on the immediate threats faced by the historic buildings there. Now, the National Trust has named the Soldiers Home a National Treasure. National Treasures are irreplaceable and threatened places where the National Trust is making a significant investment of resources to protect these places, promote their history and significance and engage local preservationists to help advance the cause of preservation nationally.

The Soldiers Home contains some of Milwaukee’s oldest and most significant historic buildings, some of which have been providing services to area veterans since the late 1860s. Despite their historic and architectural significance, however, these buildings are in serious disrepair and remain largely unknown to most area residents. To help raise awareness of these buildings and the threats they face, and encourage the public to get involved in the effort to preserve them, the National Trust and its partners are launching a series of new initiatives.

To underscore the large number of people positively affected by the Soldiers Home over the years, the coalition has launched the #MySoldiersHome campaign. This is an online effort to capture stories, photos and other remembrances of the Soldiers Home to help raise awareness of the district in the community and demonstrate the impact it has had and continues to have on veterans and their families.

Also, beginning in 2013, members of the public will be able to experience the Soldiers Home for themselves through self-guided walking tours offered by the National Trust and the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance. The walking tours will give the public its first opportunity in many years to experience the Soldiers Home and see its historic buildings up close.

Another way the public can make their voice heard is by signing on to the Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home Community Advisory Council’s Consensus Report to show their support for the reuse of the Soldiers Home’s vacant buildings.

“The Soldiers Home is not only architecturally significant, it has been an important refuge for the men and women of our armed forces since shortly after the Civil War,” said Genell Scheurell, Senior Field Officer with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We believe these new initiatives will raise awareness of this irreplaceable historic place, and encourage the public to get involved in the effort to save the Soldiers Home.”

More information on all of these initiatives can be found at www.SavetheSoldiersHome.com.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded nonprofit organization, works to save America’s historic places. www.PreservationNation.org

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