Doors Open Milwaukee is happening Saturday, September 22nd and Sunday, September 23rd, 2018. For this annual event, you can visit over 170 buildings around the city for free, and take over 40 expert-led ticketed tours.
If you have kids, there are 20 locations that are designated as specifically child-friendly. You can pick up a Kids Passport featuring 24 child-friendly Doors Open sites.
You can pick up this year's Kids Passport at the event headquarters (235 E. Michigan St.) or at any of family passport sites listed below:
4 Seasons Skate Park (200 N 25 St.)
"Established in 1999, 4 Seasons Skate Park is Wisconsin’s largest indoor skateboard facility offering skateboarding, BMX biking, in-line skating, and scootering. Visitors will have full access to the indoor skate park, where they can explore the facility on self-guided tours."
Alice’s Garden Urban Farm (2136 N 21st St.)
Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
Please join us in the outdoor, urban splendor of Alice’s Garden! Explore the beautiful herbal labyrinth, enjoy walks along the mulched paths, as all of your senses take in the beauty of the garden, sit in the grassy area for a some moments of relaxation! There will be garden tours each day at 11am, 2pm, and 4pm each day. Children are invited to have some fun with a garden scavenger hunt! There will also be prepared food to purchase, or you may bring your own meal to eat at one of the eight picnic tables throughout the garden. We will also have our Alice’s Garden Artisan Market on Sunday.
Originally built as a single family in 1869 for the Daniel Schultz, the style is a common Milwaukee Italiante built out of the area’s famous cream city brick. Albert Seeboth purchased the home in 1906 and remodeled it with an additional front porch and an entire third floor in the German Revival style. Later usage as Dr. Eisenberg’s clinic and Avrum Chudnow’s offices preserved much of the home’s original interior. Remodeling during construction of the museum restored and preserved the woodwork, room layout and many interesting features.
Original Milwaukee and Midwest Americana items from WWI to WWII are displayed in creative, immersive exhibits within the building. Air-conditioned indoor exhibits include an ice cream pavilion, grocery store, pharmacy, movie theater and secret speakeasy. Outdoor features include two 1930 vehicles in a garage workshop environment. New exhibits and items every year. Scavenger hunt, working vintage phones, unique movies, sound buttons and more interactive features for all ages. Brat fry, snacks, ice cream, sodas, gift shop & larger garage sale available. Some off-street parking available.
Fire Station 1 (784 N. Broadway)
NOT OPEN WHEN ON CALL. Home to Engine #1 and TEMS (Tactical EMS Team), this is the oldest company in the Milwaukee Fire Department, founded in 1839. Take a guided tour behind-the-scenes of the oldest firehouse in Milwaukee (with its last major renovation occurring in 1934), talk to firefighters, and see the equipment housed there as well as view historic photos of past crews and fire engines.
Fire Station 21 (2050 N Palmer St)
NOT OPEN WHEN ON CALL.This Fire Station was designed in 1894 by Milwaukee Fire Department foreman Sebastian Brand. Firefighters will be on site to talk about firefighting and answer questions.
Flux Design, LTD. (811 E Vienna Ave.)
Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
"Flux Design, LTD. is a 20,000 square foot design/build shop located in the heart of the Riverworks area. It is one level, with both indoor and outdoor components. Their unique design style has even landed them their own TV show on DIY Network. The space houses an industrial shop, with machinery and an ample amount of tools, combined with exciting art and sculpture. The space is so large that employees often need to use scooters and skateboards to get around!
All visitors are welcome to stop by Design Flux and climb aboard a fast-moving train with over a decade and a half of art, creativity, fun, and hard work behind it. This isn’t just a regular day at the office. Their doors are open to creative minds of ALL ages that want to learn more about what they do and why they do it. Brief guided tours of the space will be offered, as well as self-guided exploration, art, lots of laughs, and even more fun! If you are interested in art, design, building, big tools, and even bigger personalities, this is the place to be!"
Havenwoods State Forest (6141 N Hopkins St.)
"Havenwoods is Wisconsin’s only urban State Forest. Stop by for a while to enjoy the peacefulness of nature and to visit the environmental center. There will be lots to do: go on a walk with a naturalist, meet reptiles and amphibians close-up, discover Havenwoods’ part in Milwaukee history through photos and stories, enjoy some old-fashioned games and crafts, and borrow a GPS unit to go geocaching in the Forest."
Explore this former funeral home transformed to art gallery and performance venue, including the home of the Village Playhouse (costumes, stage, lights). Maybe try on some costumes! In the art gallery, enjoy the landscape photography of Chuck Sois or hands-on art projects for children and adults, with musical entertainment by American Idol finalist, Steve Beguhn. On the second floor, enjoy Erico’s art display, do some creative writing with Christi Craig, or learn some relaxation techniques from Scott Thomas’ Always A Better You Counseling Service.
Built in 1930 as Schubal & Slattery Funeral Home, this beautiful brick structure has characteristics reminiscent of a miniature castle. With the help of over 100 volunteers, Inspiration Studios opened its doors in the heart of West Allis, housing an art gallery and a community theatre. Experience a first hand look at the workings behind Erico’s Gallery, the Village Playhouse, Christi Craig’s Writing Studio, and Always A Better You Counseling Services through both guided and self guided tours.
The Islamic Resource Center (run by the Milwaukee Muslim Women’s Coalition) is Wisconsin’s first Islamic cultural center and Islamic public lending library. Learn about Muslim beliefs and practices, view unique books and art pieces, read about Muslim contributions to civilization, have your name written in Arabic, try on a colorful hijab (headscarf), and sample ethnic foods. There will also be craft projects for the children too.
Opened in 1926, this facility was designated a National Historic Civil Engineering Landmark in 1974. World-renowned for pioneering the way in modern wastewater treatment technology, Jones Island was also one of the first facilities in the world to produce a fertilizer as the by-product of the water reclamation process: Milorganite. Capable of treating more than 300 million gallons a day, the facility is owned and governed by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District and operated and maintained by Veolia North America.
Through exhibits and the tour, learn about: The history of Jones Island, how Milorganite is made, and Veolia North America, a global environmental services company. Don’t miss viewing the microorgansims, the “workhorses of wastewater”, under the high power microscope! Facility tours help meet requirements for a variety of Boy and Girl Scout badges and awards. While supplies last, get a free 5# bag of Milorganite.
Visitors will travel via motorcoach around the entire Jones Island facility.
Tickets: NOT Required. Times: Sat.10am-4:30 pm, first come first serve for tours.
Duration: Plan an hour or more to fully take advantage of tours, exhibits, video theatre and children’s activities.
Capacity each tour: 40+.
Meet: Jones Island Water Reclamation Facility, corner of East Jones Street & Harbor Drive. Please wear long pants and closed-toe shoes for safety.
Kilbourn Ave Bascule Bridge (101 E Kilbourn Ave.)
Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
"The Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge is Milwaukee’s most architecturally prominent bridge. The Kilbourn Avenue Bascule Bridge was constructed in 1929 to serve as a visual link in the newly adopted Civic Center plan, bridging the way between the Old World character of City Hall and the new Classical Revival Milwaukee County Courthouse. Visitors will see how a bridge works from the bridge operator’s perspective. There will be 2-3 openings per hour during the event."
Lynden Sculpture Garden (2145 W Brown Deer Rd.)
Sat Not Open Sun 10 am to 5 pm
The Lynden Sculpture Garden offers a unique experience of art in nature through its collection of more than 50 monumental sculptures sited across 40 acres of park, lake, and woodland. Explore on your own or take one of many short tours throughout the day. Artists, docents, and staff will introduce you to their favorite sculptures, the back acres, the pollinator gardens, the bonsai exhibition, the conservation shop, and a variety of behind-the-scenes spots in the house and barn. Self-guided scavenger hunts, orienteering challenges, and plein air painting available, too.
Milwaukee City Hall (200 E Well St.)
Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
"When it was first built in 1895, the City Hall was the third-tallest building in the country thanks to it’s spectacular bell tower, which stands at 353 ft. tall. Although it no longer holds that title, City Hall continues to be one of Milwaukee’s most iconic landmarks to date. Designed by architect Henry C. Koch in the Flemish Renaissance Revival Style, the building was renovated and the bell tower restored in 2006. Visitors will be able to explore the building’s 10-story rotunda, with a structure consisting of a basement and eight stories of city offices, as well as drop by the Mayor’s office. In addition, visitors will have the opportunity to tour the City Hall bell tower while learning about the building’s long history. This rarely-offered climb up five steep, narrow flights of stairs leads to the “Solomon Juneau”, also known as “Big Ben”, the 11-ton bell named after Milwaukee’s first mayor. Learn all about the bell, take in the wonderful sites, and a few lucky guests may even get the chance to ring the famous bell!"
Milwaukee Fire Museum (1615 W Oklahoma Ave.)
Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Sun 10 am to 4 pm
"Built in 1927 this 90 year old building features different construction styles and materials, terrazzo floors, push bottom light switches and incandescent lighting. In addition, the building has a bunk room, alarm area and a vintage fire officers office. It is one of five fire stations of this style built in 1927. The museum (since 1995) houses the first department ambulance, a 1947 Cadillac, plus two trucks built in the Milwaukee Fire Department Shop during the 1920s and 30s. The building also has a dormitory style bunk-room, a vintage kitchen, locker room, and hose tower. Take a guided tour or explore at your own pace with a museum guide sheet."
Milwaukee Police District 2 (245 W. Lincoln Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207)
District Two used to be called “Southside Station” It opened it’s doors back in 1953. It’s the oldest police district in Milwaukee. In 2009, the District Two boundaries changed. (From North to South) We patrol from W. Florida St to W. Cleveland Ave, East to West we patrol S. 1st to S. 43rd St. District Two population is over 87,000 residents. Captain Alex Ramirez is currently the Captain of District Two.
Meet the District Two police staff, tour the station and check out the Community Resource Area and MPD Law Enforcement displays when you visit.
Generations have visited this model railroad club since late 1936, and the layout today is as it was rebuilt around 1950. Models are built to 1/4 inch scale, Some of our models are from before World War II, and some are brand new. We are happy to talk to visitors, and we offer stay-as-long-as-you-like self-guided visits (with informational handouts). Small groups are welcome and we can show them around. Children are welcome, too.
Our building is a former railroad station, built by the CMStP&P Railroad in about 1916. A Century old! Yes, it is UNDER the railroad tracks. It was later abandoned by the railroad, and the Club took it over in 1936 as a ‘temporary’ location.
Much of the original components still exist, such as the beautiful white Subway Tile on the walls, genuine tin ceiling panels, concrete walls, and some original steam heat fixtures.
Orlandini Studios ltd (633 W Virginia St.) Sat 12 pm to 5 pm Sun 12 pm to 5 pm
"The ornamental plaster shop on 6th St.was originally built 1876. Matt and Julian Orlandini purchased the property in August of 1964 as a duplex, and immediately set about the task of gutting the building, putting in a new foundation and building the shop onto the back of the existing building. Orlandini has been open and doing business since August of 1965.
Julian’s living quarters, which were on the second floor, will be open to the public to view the paintings of Debra Stubbe Burkart. You can see Milwaukee landmarks as well as Paris through her eyes. The shop will also be open to the public. Eugene Orlandini, third-generation Ornamental Plasterer, will be on hand to explain how ornamental plaster can be used in your home, as well as how pieces are made.
Orlandini Studios will be offering a ‘special gift’ for children who visit this passport site with their Doors Open Milwaukee passport. (Warning: The studio is dusty, so black clothes are not encouraged.)"
Pleasant Street Bridge House (400 E. Pleasant Street)
The City of Milwaukee developed the towerless vertical lift bridge in the 1960s. A vertical-lift, or tabletop bridge, is a movable bridge that uses a counterweight and hydraulics to raise the bridge vertically while remaining parallel with the deck. The Pleasant Street Vertical Lift Bridge was built in 1972 and was rehabilitated in 2013. See how a bridge works from a bridge operator’s perspective. There will be 2-3 openings per hour during the event.
Survive Alive House (2059 S 20th St.) Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun Not Open
"Survive Alive House opened our doors in the fall of 1992. Over 15,000 children visit each year to learn to survive in the event of an actual fire in their home. Milwaukee Public Schools’ Division of Recreation and the Milwaukee Fire Department operate the house jointly.
Visitors will have hands on experiences with different scenarios dealing with how to escape a fire in their home. They will lay on a bed and wait for the smoke alarm to sound, then roll out of the bed and crawl to each door touching it with the back of their hands. Kids will learn the best way to stay safe in case of a fire and have the opportunity to act it out."
True Skool (161 W Wisconsin Ave #1000)
TRUE Skool will open its facilities for self guided tours with youth and staff creatives available to answer any questions about the organizational mission, community project network or the unique after school and summer programs. Guests will get to experience a ‘behind the scenes’ view into projects and multidisciplinary production spaces to see student created media and artwork. The TRUE Skool Dj class will be showcasing and youth performing artists will be rocking live on stage throughout the day with next door neighbors Underground Collaborative!
Urban Ecology Center (3700 W Pierce St.) Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun Not Open
"Come check out the Urban Ecology Center’s Menomonee Valley branch! Designed by Uihlein-Wilson Architects with input from MIAD and UWM students, the building was a finalist for the Milwaukee Awards for Neighborhood Development Innovation in 2013. It has many unique features, including geothermal heating, solar hot water, radiant floor heat, and many reclaimed and sustainable building materials. Every piece of the building has it’s own history, right down to the reception desk that was built from the bar of the tavern that once stood there!
Take yourself on a tour of this unique building. Use the Urban Ecology Center’s Visitor’s Guide (available in English and Spanish) to discover all of the building’s green features. Learn about the history of the building and the area, explore the flexible and fun learning spaces in the building, and even see if you can find the slide! If you have some extra time, you can head out the back door and take a walk in one of Milwaukee’s newest green spaces: Three Bridges Park, that opened in July of 2013. An animal feeding will take place at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday."
US Bank Center (777 E Wisconsin Ave.) Sat 10 am to 5 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
(Please note that there are limited hours at US Bank this year and to expect long lines.)
"The U.S. Bank Center is Wisconsin’s tallest building at 601 feet with 1.3 million square feet of office and retail space. The 42 story steel frame tower features an expansive atrium and lobby. Designed by SOM LLP, the building opened in 1973. The contemporary design with its signature diagonal trusses has over 5,000 windows that provide spectacular views of the City of Milwaukee and the Lake Michigan shoreline. Visitors will get to experience a guided tour to the 41st floor observation deck to see the gorgeous views of the City of Milwaukee and the Lake Michigan shoreline."
War Memorial Center (750 N Lincoln Memorial Dr.) Sat 10 am to 1:30 pm Sun 10 am to 5 pm
"Milwaukee’s premier modernist building, the War Memorial Center was designed by Finish-American architect Eero Saarinen in 1952 – five years after he designed St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and nearly a decade before his landmark TWA Terminal. When the War Memorial Center opened to the public on Veterans Day, 1957, Saarinen’s innovative design won international praise for its dramatic use of concrete, steel and glass creating what Time magazine called “one of the country’s finest examples of modern architecture put to work for civic purposes.”
The west façade features 4 million pieces of marble and glass used by precisionist – and Milwaukee native – Edmund Lewandowski to designate the start and end dates of WWII and the Korean War. The War Memorial Center has memorials honoring veterans, units and wars, plus exhibits about our country’s military experience, including carved wooden figures representing each military era from the Revolutionary War through Baghdad, and the WMC collection of rare propaganda posters from WWI and WWII.
Visitors to War Memorial Center will see the structure and serene settings designed to honor the 3,481 Milwaukee County men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. Veterans and living historians will talk about patriotism and the American military experience. See the memorials dedicated to our veterans, including the powerful 9/11 Memorial that is a piece of steel recovered from Ground Zero. Special guided tours throughout the day will give visitors unique access to areas like top-floor board room that has the best views in the city."
(2122 W Mount Vernon Ave.) Sat 10 am to 5 pm
Sun 10 am to 5 pm
"This building was originally home to West Side Works for the Milwaukee Gas Light Company and provided gas to light homes and street lamps. The building housed retort furnaces to super-heat coal into gas which was stored in gasometers and piped throughout the city overnight. Today, the retort furnaces are gone, and is now home to Zimmerman Architectural Studios and Harwood Engineering Consultants. Along with historical displays, visitors will see design work from the 110 year history of Zimmerman Architectural Studios.Visitors to Zimmerman Architectural Studios can learn about the building’s history through photographic exhibits and employee presentations. Guests are free to explore the building at their own pace, chat with an employee to learn more about the renovation and rehabilitation process or just relax in the gallery and watch a slideshow while children (and adults!) build their own architectural creations with an impressive supply of Legos! Come see the Milwaukee Business Journal’s Coolest Office for 2018!
What's your favorite thing about Doors Milwaukee? What location do you plan to visit this year? Drop a comment below!