Category Archives: Urban Archaeology

Discovering New Secrets Beneath Juneau Park In Downtown Milwaukee

Most people would never guess that Juneau Park, located along Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee, was once home to some of Milwaukee’s founding citizens.  While the former homes are no longer standing, over the past four seasons, Discovery World’s staff archaeologist and director of the Distant Mirror archaeology program, Kevin Cullen, has led an archaeological survey in the park to document and excavate the remains of these 19th century affluent residences.

 

Known as the “Lost Neighborhood” site, this elegant lakefront green space is slowly revealing its buried secrets through hands-on archaeological research and cutting-edge technology.  This years participants in the Lost Neighborhood survey included Milwaukee Area Technical College civil engineering instructor David Langhoff, two of his students, eight Bay View High School students who are part of a semester-long program with Discovery World called “The Art & Archaeology of Me”, several Milwaukee-area residents, a re-enactor and scholar (Rob Nurre) of the 19th century scientist Increase Lapham, as well as members of the Juneau Park Friends.

This years survey focused in former block 106, located in the north third of Juneau Park.  We began work in this section of the park last year, yet, because of the potential for intact buried features it was decided to refocus our attention this season in this area.  The survey began on a sunny Friday, May 20th, with the establishment of the former lot boundaries inside the park, from which we could then determine the location of the former houses inside these lots. Once these former lots were reestablished, three archaeological survey grids were overlaid inside these lots corresponding to the hypothesized house locations.  The intention for these grids were for the use of  ground penetrating radar (GPR) to map the buried remains inside these grids using Discovery Worlds’ Noggin 500 smart cart.

 

Saturday May 21st began as an overcast Spring morning with the threat of sustained rain.  Despite a subsequent soaking rain, we forged on and began collecting GPR data, soil coring, test excavations, as well as GPS and compass mapping.  Our first test excavation was placed on the western edge of former lot 20 in block 106.  Deed research revealed that this property was first purchased by Charles Church from James Kneeland in the 1860s, but it wasn’t until the early 1870s that Timothy and Mary Dore built a two story brick veneered house and a two story brick veneered carriage house in the rear of the property.  In December of 1876 the Dore’s sold the property to Hugh L. and Margret Johnston for $16,000.  The family owned the property until 1926 when the City purchased it for $68,000 in order to demolish it for the expansion of Juneau Park.

 

As we began excavating a 50 cm X 50 cm shovel test above the former carriage house / garden shed, we began finding 19th century ceramics, brick fragments, etc. in the first 20 centimeters below the surface.  Below this we encountered a strata of clay between 20-60 cm below the ground surface.  Then all of a sudden we hit a layer of earthenware flower pots, square nails and brick fragments.  This pottery “midden” persisted for another 25+ cm until we hit a limestone base at 85 cm below the surface, which then filled with water.  This halted our excavation, but in all we had uncovered a surprisingly immense amount of late 19th-early 20th century artifacts.  Several of the flower pots were still intact, some of which were nested inside one another.  In all we recovered about 18 earthenware flowerpots, some with visible finger prints of the potter on the exterior!   This was a very exciting find for the students and everyone involved.

 

We completed our survey on Sunday May 22nd with another interesting discovery.  In another shovel test excavation, we discovered an unassuming prehistoric artifact.  It was a chipped-stone “flake” that is the result of manufacturing a stone tool, likely a spear or arrow point.  While we cannot date this flake accurately, we do know it was made prior to European’s arrival in this area.  Soon we had completed our GPR survey and test excavations, packed up the site and headed back to Discovery World to process the GP data.  The image below is the resulting GPR map of the grid we collected over the pottery midden feature in former lot 20.  The middle depth slice clearly shows the presence of several dense concentrations of artifacts, likely more pottery and construction material.

Overall, everyone was very surprised with what we found and all deserve credit for contributing to the discovery of the Lost Neighborhood of Juneau Park. After all, communities that document and protect their own cultural histories are more conscientious about the importance of preserving the past, which results in a greater appreciation for one’s own sense of place in time and space, particularly in the ever-changing human-built environment.  A final report on the past four seasons of survey will be available following laboratory analysis of the artifacts and GPR data obtained this season.

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Chronicling Milwaukee’s Historic Breweries

Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing Westside Tour

Saturday, April 30th 2011 marked the third Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour, developed through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror archaeology program.  While the two previous tours have explored Milwaukee’s storied brewing sites in the heart of the city and on the near Southside, this urban archaeology expedition focused on the historic brewery sites located throughout Milwaukee’s near Westside.  This included several forgotten historic brewery sites, the behemoth Frederick Miller Brewery, the graves of two notable beer barons, as well as the former mansions of the Miller, Schlitz, Gettelman and Pabst families.

Each of the nearly fifty participants received a screen printed tote bag (printed in Discovery World’s print lab), which was filled with a custom bottle of “Westseitenbier Hefe Weizen”, brewed exclusively by yours truly for this tour in our new Thirst Lab, along with a detailed booklet outlining the chronologies for each of the sixteen sites on the tour. With Julie at the helm of a full coach bus, Leonard Jurgensen as Milwaukee Brewery Historian and I, as archaeological tour guide, the loaded Badger Bus rolled out from Discovery World just after 10am.

Weaving our way through a throng of pedestrians, walking in support of the March of Dimes, we quickly reached the former site of the Lake Brewery, which was established in 1841 by three pioneers from Wales.  This ale brewery built at the end of Clybourn Ave. (formerly Huron St.) lasted until 1880, at which point it was razed for an expanding railroad depot.  Today it is home to a Milwaukee County Transit bus garage.  Rolling west along Clybourn St. and then to St. Paul Ave., the second stop was a former Schlitz “tide house” on 19th St.  This three story cream city brick building was built in the late 1880s and still has a handsome Schlitz globe sign on the buildings upper cornice.  Today it is home to Sobelman’s pub and grill.

Stop three was the site of the former Banner Brewing Company (2302 W. Clybourn St.).  This short-lived post-prohibition brewery opened in 1933, where they brewed primarily weiss beer at an annual capacity of 8,000 barrels.  However, in 1936 the brewery ceased brewing operations for financial reasons and the brewery closed.  Today the building which was built in 1919 still stands, yet most of the façade is covered with metal siding.  Inside there is evidence of the original brew kettle ventilation pipe, as well as an original freight elevator.

Moving on, stop four brought us to the very intriguing brewery site of Franz Falk’s New Bavaria Brewery.  Located near 29th St. and Pierce St. along the south bluff of the Menomonee River valley, the property was first purchased by Franz Falk and Fredrick Goes in 1855.  While brewing may have taken place there prior to 1860, there is definitive evidence that major brewing operations began there in 1870.  In its heyday this brewery was one of the largest in Milwaukee, until two devastating fires destroyed the brew house and malt house in 1889 and 1892.  Today the brew house is no longer standing, however the original 1870 stables and three story stock house (ice house) still stand, making them perhaps the oldest surviving original brewing related buildings in Wisconsin.  They are both vacant buildings and in disrepair, however new property owners are looking to rehabilitate the structures.  Prior to the tour, this archaeologist employed ground penetrating radar over the location of the former brew house (now a gravel lot).  The preliminary results indicate the presence of a large foundation wall, among other evidence of structural remains.

By 11:15am we were in route to the Miller Valley for a tour of the sprawling Frederick Miller brewery.    The origin of this iconic North American brewery began in 1849, when Charles Best and Gustav Fine opened the Plank Road Brewery along what was then called the Madison, Watertown & Milwaukee Plank Road.  By 1855 Charles Best & Co. foreclosed on the brewery after the Germania Bank which held the loan to the brewery went bankrupt. Meanwhile, Frederick Miller purchased the Plank Road Brewery on June 11th 1856 for $2,370.  Over the following 150+ years, this brewery would grow to the immense size that it is today, covering several acres and brewing over a million barrels of beer per year.  Following a guided tour through several buildings on the property, including the original lagering caves, we made our way to the Miller Inn for a delicious catered lunch and beer sampling.

After lunch, the bus once again rolled on, this time to the little-known family home of Frederick Miller (3711 W. Miller Ln.), which was built in 1884 on a hill overlooking the brewery.  An octagonal turret on the southeast corner of this wood framed Queen Anne style home stands out as a noteworthy feature.  Today it is a private residence.

The next stop was a visit to Calvary Cemetery (2203 W. Bluemound Rd.) to pay our respects to the final resting place of Frederick Miller (1824-1888) and his family, as well as the grave of Phillip Jung (1845-1911), a notable beer baron who operated the Phillip Jung Brewing Company at 5th and Cherry St., between 1895-1920.  A toast to these 19th century brewers was a fitting way to salute their contribution to Milwaukee’s brewing heritage.

Moving farther west, we came to the former locations of the Castalia Brewery (1893-1898) and the Wisconsin Brewing Company (1996-1998).  Despite being separated by a century, both of these short-lived breweries were built in close proximity along the Menomonee River in the village of Wauwatosa (then called Center City).  Only the foundations of these former breweries remain in the floodplain of the Menomonee River.

 The next five stops took us to the mansions built for several notable Milwaukee brewing families, four of which are located on West Highland Blvd.  The Fredrick Pabst Jr. mansion, built in the Greek revival-style in 1896, still stands at 3112 W. Highland Blvd. Directly to the east (3030 Highland Blvd) is the original mansion of his brother Gustav Pabst, which was also built in 1896.  Across Highland Blvd is the former mansion of the Adam Gettelman family (2929 Highland Blvd), built in 1895.  Nine blocks to the east at 2004 W. Highland Blvd. stands the former home of Victor Schlitz (son of beer baron Joseph Schlitz), which was built in the Tudor-style in 1890. Finally, located at 2000 W. Wisconsin Ave. is the stately mansion of Captain Frederick Pabst, which was completed in 1892 and inspired by 17th Century English and Flemish Renaissance architecture.  We were all treated to a very entertaining guided tour of the mansion, which set the stage for our final stop at Captain Pabst’s office complex and guild hall (southwest corner of 9th and Juneau Ave).

As the bus pulled up to the 1880 castle-like complex at 4:15pm, the group enjoyed a refreshing pint in the elegant Blue Ribbon Hall (completed in 1940) as owner Jim Haertel gave an amusing historical overview of the property.  This led to a behind-the-scenes tour though the dilapidated corridors of the once mighty Pabst Brewery including the former office of Captain Pabst.   This led us to the original entrance to the complex and onto the awaiting bus, bringing to an end an enlightening and entertaining day of experiencing first hand several of Milwaukee’s historic brewery-related sites.

Stay tuned for a future tour of Milwaukee’s historic and contemporary brewery sites located on the Northside.  This tour is being planned for September 24th 2011.  Call (414) 765-8625 or email reservations@discoveryworld.org to reserve your seat. Finally, you can listen to an interview about this tour recorded on 89.7FM, Milwaukee Public Radio, which aired April 25th 2011.

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/lake_effect/le_sgmt.php?segmentid=7335

Ale Through The Ages: Wisconsin Weizen Ale

Brewing Up Wisconsin History

The most recent Ale Through the Ages brewing series at Discovery World focused on Wisconsin and Milwaukee’s proud brewing heritage, as we recreated a traditional wheat ale.  During the late 1800s, Wisconsin was a major wheat trading state, with Milwaukee as the primary hub of commerce on the Great Lakes.  As a result of this lucrative grain trade, Wisconsin breweries had a steady and high quality supply of fermentable wheat and barley.  Wheat became a staple ingredient in the production of a popular German beer, Weiss /Weizen and “weiss breweries” sprung up all over the state and in particular in Milwaukee.  While the original recipes from the 19th century have yet to be publicly revealed, this recipe is an approximation of what these historic wheat beers may have tasted like. Therefore, we selected local wheat and barley malts, in addition to locally grown hops, as well as Wisconsin wildflower honey.  A total of 12 gallons were brewed, 5.5 of which was fermented with Bavarian Wheat yeast, 5.5 gallons was fermented with Weihenstephan Weizen yeast, and 1 gallon was fermented with a local wild strain of yeast collected by a Milwaukee home brewer and class participant, Matt Spaanam.

Wheat and Milwaukee

Wheat (Triticum spp) is a grass species from Western Asia that was originally domesticated least 10,000 years ago, yet is now cultivated worldwide. Since the beginning of the European influx into America’s heartland, wheat has been a major crop and commodity of export to the global market. Milwaukee was one city in particular that was once at the forefront of the American and indeed global grain market.  This is evidenced by the iconic Chamber of Commerce building, which still stands on the SE corner of Michigan St. and Water St.  Completed in 1879 by the esteemed architect Edward Townsend Mix, it was inside this Italian Renaissance style building that the main trading rooms of the Milwaukee Grain Exchange were housed.  It was here between1879-1935 that the price of wheat was set for the global market in the first “trading pit” in the country.  Sadly the octagonal pit no longer survives. However, restoration of the trading room in the early 1980s resulted in preservation of one of best examples of mural-ornamented Victorian commercial interiors in North America.

Wisconsin Pioneering Breweries

The earliest evidence of a commercial brewery in Wisconsin opened in 1835 in Mineral Point (Iowa Co.) by John Phillips (Apps, J 1992). This region of southwestern Wisconsin saw the earliest influx of Europeans, who principally arrived from Cornwall, England and were employed in mining lead.  These intrepid miners were given the nickname “badgers”, due to their burrowing tunnels, a moniker that eventually became Wisconsin’s mascot.  It is likely that this pioneer brewery, as well as Rablin & Bray’s brewery in Elk Grove (Lafayette Co.) that opened in 1836, were likely brewing ales rather than lagers.  Lagers would soon become the norm, once large numbers of German immigrants arrived in subsequent decades and opened their own breweries.  By the end of the 1840s there were at least 22 breweries in Wisconsin. That number rose to at least 190 breweries in Wisconsin by the end of the 1850s.  Towns and cities across Wisconsin would grow many industries, and breweries were no exception.

Milwaukee: “Brew City USA”

Without exception, Milwaukee’s brewing industry once stood head and shoulders above most American cities.   In total, at least 120 different brewing companies have been established in Milwaukee over the past 175 years, giving justification for calling Milwaukee America’s “Brew City”. The most brewing companies in operation at any one time was during the 1860s when at least 40 breweries were in the production of beer, ales, lagers and often distilled spirits.

Milwaukee’s first commercial brewery was established by Simon Reutelshofer in 1839/40, and was located at the southeast corner S. 3rd & Virginia Streets.  This kicked off a tidal wave of other brewing operations that ostensibly became family businesses and wherein certain families became extremely wealthy. Without going into the entire chronology of Milwaukee’s brewing history, instead I’ll discuss just two historic Milwaukee weiss beer breweries that highlight the evolution of the industry as a whole.

The Gipfel Weiss Beer Brewery

One of Milwaukee’s early breweries that produced primarily wheat based beers was established by David Gipfel in 1843 when he purchased a small wooden framed building on Chestnut St (modern Juneau Ave.) for $400 from Wolfgang Weiss, and constructed a brewing operation.  In 1851, David Gipfel’s eldest son Charles (Chas.) assumed ownership of the family brewery and renamed it the Union Brewery. In 1853 a four story Federal-Style cream city brick saloon and boarding house was built fronting Chestnut St. with the original brewery in the back.  By the 1880s, the brewery was known principally for brewing weiss beer and was called the Charles Gipfel Whitebeer Brewery.  However in 1890 the brewery closed due to increased competition among local breweries.  The building housed various businesses over the next century, until 2007, when the building was jacked up and relocated from 423 Juneau Ave. to a vacant lot along Old World 3rd St.  Sadly, in 2009 due to insufficient funding for redevelopment, the building which at the time represented Milwaukee’s oldest surviving brewery was demolished.  Today it is a pile of bricks in an architectural salvage yard along the Milwaukee River.


E.L. Husting Weiss Beer Brewery

One other historic Milwaukee brewery that focused primarily on brewing wheat-based beer was Eugene Louis Husting.  Like many brewers before and after him, Eugene began as a brewer at the Northwestern Brewery, which was owned by Phillip Altpeter.  After marrying Phillip’s daughter Bertha in 1872, E.L. Husting opened his own weiss beer brewery and soda factory on the east side of 5th St. between Cherry St. and Vliet St. in 1877.  By 1884 Husting was brewing weiss beer in an 8 barrel brew kettle and selling the product in stoneware bottles.  In 1897 the Husting Brewery expanded inventory to include ginger ale, soda water, cream and orange soda, raspberry wine, and cider. As a result of prohibition (1920-1933), brewing beer discontinued and instead soda was exclusively produced.  Following prohibition the company evolved into a beer and soda distributor until 1970 when the plant shut down.  Today, the main building is still intact and is now considered the oldest standing complete brewery in Milwaukee.  Its current tenants are a ribbon factory on the first level and Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center on the second floor, ironically the same  company this archaeologist used to work for!

Wisconsin Weizen Ale

The resulting Wisconsin Weizen ale that we brewed fermented quickly and will be bottled on Thursday, February 17th.  Currently, it has a delightful wheat aroma, slightly hazy with a nice hop finish.  In keeping with historic tradition, this wheat ale will be bottle conditioned, whereby adding a small amount of sweet wheat malt to each bottle in order to promote final carbonation.  It should be ready to drink in two weeks, but will only get better with age.  It is our hope that Milwaukee’s forgotten weiss beer brewers would be proud of this fermented concoction! Prost!

Milwaukee’s Historic Southside Breweries Rediscovered

Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing: South Side Brewing History Tour

Saturday September 25th brought together an enthusiastic group of Milwaukee brewing aficionados to pay homage to the extensive brewing legacies located throughout southern Milwaukee. More than thirty participants boarded the coach bus at 10:00am for this second Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing Heritage Tour, developed through the Distant Mirror Archaeology Program at Discovery World. During this epic tour, we visited a dozen historic sites in a dozen Milwaukee south side neighborhoods, the highlights from which are discussed here.

Our first disembarking off the bus was at Milwaukee’s very first verifiable commercial brewery site, the German Brewery, begun possibly as early as 1839 by Simon Reutelshofer on the southeast corner of S. 3rd St. & Virginia St.  It was here that we cracked open the special batch of Himbeere Hefe-Weizen that I brewed exclusively for this tour.  Sampling this Bavarian raspberry wheat beer at the former German Brewery site was a fitting honor, as we toasted to the origins of  Milwaukee’s heralded brewing tradition.  It was also a perfect way to begin our day with a cordial toast of 6% ale at 10:30am!

The group then strolled a block north to view the architecturally interesting cream city brick buildings built by the Pabst Brewing Company in 1892 and 1898. The original purpose of these buildings is unclear, yet it is likely they were used by the Pabst Brewing Co. as a cooperage (barrel manufacturing facility) or for manufacturing custom Pabst brewania.  While we were unable to obtain access due to open elevator shafts, etc. we were able to peer in the windows and examine the interesting exterior of the buildings.

Moving four blocks west, we pulled into the site the former Menominee Brewery, built in 1850 by Francis Neukrich.    In 1853 this large brewery was owned and operated by Charles T. Melms, who would go on to become Milwaukee’s first true “beer baron”. In 1864, C.T. Melms built an enormous Italianate-style mansion beside the brewery, however his premature death in 1869 caused by a tetanus infection would leave the family business in substantial debt.  This would lead to the transfer of the brewery site to the Philip Best Brewing Company, which was being operated out of the Empire Brewery in downtown Milwaukee. Subsequent ownership went to the Pabst Brewing Co. and it was in 1892 that the abandoned Melms mansion was torn down. Today, all that remains of the original brewery is the bottling house, built by Philip Best 1881.


Following a nice walk around the property with two Melms family historians, Margaret Berres and Tom Ludka, we made our way to the Milwaukee Brewing Company’s 2nd St. Brewery for a catered lunch and a custom tour lead by brewery president and founder, Jim McCabe. Jim gave us some great inside history on the names they chose for several of their celebrated ales.  For instance, the “Flaming Damsel” is named for a theatrical performance that took place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s in which a performing artist made her living by lighting herself on fire and diving from a 40-foot platform to the water below.

After lunch and a great tour of the Milwaukee Brewing Company’s south side brewery, we once again boarded the bus and made our way along National Avenue, to drive by several noteworthy Milwaukee brewing historic sites, including the sites of the former Graf and Madlener Weiss Beer Breweries, and the little known Excelsior Weiss Beer Brewery.  Now a residential structure, this former brewery was established by J.F. Cruscynski in 1884 on the southwest corner of S. 15th and W. Becher St.

By 1:30pm the coach bus arrived at Forest Home Cemetery as we sought out the final resting place of several Milwaukee beer barons, including those involved in the establishment of former brewery’s we had just visited.  Blatz, Schlitz and Pabst are household names, but Bills, Melms, Munzinger, Neukrich and Owens should be added to the list of famous Milwaukee brewery owners.

Our next stop took us to the former site of the Milwaukee Brewery Company (1892-1919) on S. 13th and W. Arthur St.  The plans for this elegant 19th century brewery were drawn by August Martizen of Chicago, sadly it was demolished during prohibition.  Nearby on S. 14th and Cleveland St. we passed the  site of the former Milwaukee Independent Brewing Company (1901-1962).  Today it is a petrol service station, but in its heyday, the brewery was noted for its famous “Braumeister” lager.

By 3pm we were once again getting thirsty, so we paid a visit to the newly established Horny Goat Brewing Company, to meet with Dave the brewmaster and sample a variety of their brews.  While they are yet to brew on the premises (by mid October) they currently contract their production with Point Brewery in Stevens Point, WI.  All were in great spirits as we sampled some nice versions of a Milk Stout, Pale Ale, Belgian Saison, Red Ale, etc.

Continuing down KinnickinnicAve. on the south side Milwaukee historic brewery trail, we passed near the former site of the Munzinger Weiss Beer Brewery (1890-1906) {2428 S. Burrell St.) as well as the contemporary Bay View Brew Haus.  However, due to a wedding in the Brew Haus, we rolled by on our way to our last stop on the tour, the St. Francis Brewery.  Coincidence would have it that this new brewery was celebrating Oktoberfest with live music, lederhosen laden lads and fair frauleins in froks (how about that for alliteration).  This was a great way to finish this second Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour amidst the sights, sounds and great tastes of this cities enduring tradition.

After traveling through a dozen Milwaukee south side neighborhoods to visit a dozen  historic brewery sites and three contemporary breweries, we were all feeling a wee bit weary but a whole lot more appreciative of the Milwaukee’s lasting legacy as our nations true brewing capital.  We are only beginning to put these historic breweries back on the map and we hope to launch two additional Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tours next year, as we explore this cities west side and north side historic and contemporary brewing sites.  Watch for that in Spring 2011!

Listen to an interview about Milwaukee’s brewing history, recorded on 89.7FM Milwaukee Public Radio’s  Lake Effect program.

http://www.wuwm.com/programs/lake_effect/le_sgmt.php?segmentid=6614

Making the History of a Milwaukee Neighborhood Come Alive Like Never Before

Art meets Archaeology in Bay View Wisconsin

In a world of increasing visual media, today’s high school students are having to  become more adept than ever at navigating through this age of hyper-information, while often being exposed to conventional modes of academic learning in the classroom.  These challenges have recently been addressed in a Milwaukee neighborhood by bringing the classroom into the community through a unique public art installation.  This impressive outdoor exhibit installation called the <a href="http://discoveryworld/bayview“>Bay View Observatory is the result of a collaborative effort between Discovery World and Bay View High School students.  The Observatory is the culmination of a semester-long program called “The Art and Archaeology of Me”, where students were exposed to elements of Archaeology, Digital Arts, History, Geography, Genetics and Social Studies, in order to produce a one-of-a-kind public art intervention.

Located on the lawn of the Beulah Brinton house, which is home to the Bay View Historical Society, the Bay View Observatory is a public art installation and educational experience that celebrates the rich history of the Bay View neighborhood.   Over three Saturdays in August, Bay Viewers were invited to the Observatory to participate in the preservation of history through audio interviews, artifact documentation and portrait photography.  These stations were staffed by five Bay View interns who orchestrated this data collection for future generations to learn about the unique history of this Milwaukee neighborhood.

The Observatory is based on the idea of a compass. Four 12-foot tall vertical banners represent both the cardinal points and the visual history of the community.  Meanwhile, thirty individual markers point to historically or archaeologically significant sites in and around the Bay View neighborhood. In the center of the Observatory is a Community Table where a map of the neighborhood indicates where each marker is pointing to.  The Community Table also functions as a platform from which visitors can share their Bay View stories, artifacts, historic photographs and documents.

Three 15-foot tall Personal Archaeology banner columns greet visitors to the Observatory.  These personal banners represent the unique individuality and creativity of several Bay View High School students that participated in the Art and Archaeology of Me program.  Several other banners are currently on display at Bay View High School, as well as on Discovery Worlds’ grounds at the corner of Lincoln Memorial Dr. and Michigan St.

This Observatory is well worth a visit and is a successful model of the kind of innovative educational opportunities high school students can get behind. For more information, log onto the Observatory website www.discoveryworld.org/bayview to learn about the many personalities that make this historic Milwaukee neighborhood unique.  The Observatory is slated for de-installation by Labor Day weekend of this year, so come and see for yourself if you happen to be in Bay View, Wisconsin in the next few weeks.

Rediscovering the Lost Neighborhood of Juneautown

Did you know that Juneau Park located along Lake Michigan in downtown Milwaukee was once home to some of Milwaukee’s founding citizens? As early as the 1850s, several structures once stood in this location and building continued up until the parks construction in the early 20th Century.  Please join us for a unique opportunity to help discover a fascinating chapter of Milwaukee’s history through hands-on research in identifying important 19th century residential houses beneath Juneau Park.

Juneau Park Survey Area

Through Discovery World’s Distant Mirror Archaeology Program and in collaboration with the Juneau Park Friends group, all are welcomed to participate in an exciting program that will bring the rich history of the park back to life.  Through the use of cutting-edge technology such as Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) you will be able to locate the buried remains of this former residential neighborhood.  Program activities also include an Archive Research Workshop, Lectures, Historic Open House Tours, and more.

Lost Neighborhood Program of Events

Friday May 14th 10am-4pm

Learn how to research who lived in the “lost neighborhood” beneath Juneau Park by examining public records at the Register of Deeds and in the archives at the Milwaukee Public Library.

Archive Research Rate: * Members: $30 ** Non-Members $35 *** Students $ 25

Public Lectures

Saturday May 15th 11am and 2pm

Come to Discovery World to hear exciting free lectures about Milwaukee’s historic parks.

** Free with admission to Discovery World

Juneau Park 1910

Lost Neighborhood Archaeology Survey

Friday May 21st 9:00am-5:00pm

    • Overview of the Project and History of the Lost Neighborhood.
    • Pedestrian survey along the bluff edge, following historic foot paths.
    • Begin to lay in historic streets with pin flags and place original street

Saturday May 22nd 9:00am-5:00pm

    • Juneau Park Friends group on hand to lead historic open house tours and more.
    • Remote sensing archaeology survey using Ground Penetrating Radar
    • Soil coring to identify buried remains.
    • Increase Lapham re-enactor to demonstrate 19th Century surveying while in character.

Sunday May 23rd 10:00am-3pm

    • Continue collecting GPR data within survey area.
    • Use soil probe to “ground truth” significant anomalies.
    • Relocate to Discovery World for data processing and conclusion

Milwaukee Downtown Brewing History Tour

April 17th turned out to be an epic day of experiential learning about Milwaukee’s storied brewing past and present during DISCOVERY WORLD‘s inaugural Legacies of Milwaukee Brewing tour.  A crisp yet sunny spring morning set the stage for an unforgettable tour of several downtown Milwaukee’s brewery sites.  With Kalvin at the helm of a full coach bus, Leonard Jurgensen as the Milwaukee Brewery Historian and myself as archaeological tour guide, we made our way to one of Milwaukee’s first brewery sites.

Begun in 1840/41 by three Welshmen, known as the Milwaukee Brewery and then the Lake Brewery, it is now home to the Milwaukee Co. Transit bus garage, with a rooftop garden.  It was on this rooftop garden with a commanding view of Lake Michigan, where we sampled a special brew I made in commemoration of the occasion called “Old World Welsh Ale”.  This is an all-grain strong ale with hints of smoked barley, in the style of a Scotch Ale meets a British Bitter.  Although a little young, it was packed with flavor and reminiscent of the kinds of ales brewed on that site as early as 170 years ago!

Now called the Mackie Building: 225 Michigan St. Milwaukee

Stop two brought us to the Milwaukee Grain Exchange building, on Michigan St. designed by the esteemed architect Edward Townsend Mix and completed in 1879.  For more than 50 years preceding WWII, this building with its ornately decorated Victorian interior was where the global price of wheat was set.  The opulent three-story trading room is a testimony to Milwaukee’s industrial and agricultural wealth during this period and how the brewing industry as a result benefited from this global commodity exchange.

1891 Lithograph of Brewery

Continuing on to the Blatz Brewery complex (1846-1959), which has been converted into condominiums, we disembarked from the bus and walked the perimeter of the complex to get a sense of the exterior features of the former brewery.  While the original brew house is now gone, we stood on the spot of where the massive kettles once stood and marveled at the immense size of this former brewery.

Adapted from a photo by Dan Lenz

On our way to our next stop at Lakefront Brewery, we went by another former brewery site, the Ogden Brewery (SW corner of Broadway and Ogden) which apparently may have intact lager cellars beneath the hill.  As we eventually arrived along Commerce St. and to the front door of Lakefront Brewery, Jim Klisch (former owner and co-founder of Lakefront Brewery) welcomed us in while Russ Klisch (president and co-founder of the brewery) poured each participant a fine micro-brewed beer of their choice.  After a brief history of the brewery, Jim led the group on a memorable tour of the facility, ripe with colorful commentary on the brewing process and insights into their “Frankenstein” brewing equipment.


Photo by Michael Lerret

Photo by Michael Lerret

By this time it was getting on towards 11:45 and we had lunch to get to at the Best Place in the historic Pabst Brewery.  This was not before we had a chance to see the remnants of the old beer rail line outside Lakefront Brewery, as well as the former sites of the Gipfel Brewery (1843-1894) on the SW corner of 4th and Juneau  and the Eagle Brewery (1842-1866) on the NW corner of 8th and Highland.

We entered the ongoing redevelopment of the Pabst Brewery complex in time for our lunch at Best Place and were greeted by Jim Haertel, owner and developer of the former offices of Captain Frederick Pabst.  While inside the beautifully fresco-ed rathskeller, we ate a fine catered lunch while washing it down with, what else, but Pabst Blue Ribbon.  After a brief history of the brewery by Jim, the group were given a guided tour of the undeveloped section of the building, including Captain Pabst’s office.


Reflection of Best Place, Brew House Kettles, Grain Elevator

From here we were led out into the brewery grounds by Michael Murvis and Dan McCarthy who represent Towne Investments that are overseeing the redevelopment of the brewery complex.  Mike and Dan were very kind to show us through a handful of buildings on the property, including the bottling plant, the Methodest church, the brew house and finally the observation room above the newly renovated home of Cardinal Stritch University.

By far, this intimate insight into the enormity of brewing at this site was a true highlight of the tour, particularly seeing the massive copper kettles inside the brew house, which we were told will remain intact and some day soon will be incorporated into the lobby of a grand hotel.

After the bus pulled out of the Pabst Brewery complex, we were off to visit the site of the former Cream City Brewery (1853-1937)  located on the NE corner of 13th and Cherry.  While the horse stables built in 1910 are still intact, sadly all that remains is a parking lot.  Our local brewery historian, Leonard Jurgensen, shared a personal story of playing inside this brewery as a child when it sat vacant for many years.

Greg Walter explaining brewing process

Our tenth location of the day was across I43 at the Leinenkugel’s 10th St. Brewery, where Gregory Walter, master brewer and facility manager met us for a tour of his brewery.  As the group were treated to a newly brewed yet-to-be released “mystery beer” in the hospitality room, Greg gave an overview of Leinenkugel’s history and the recent merger with Miller-Coors.  Next we were guided into the brewery where we got to see their state-of-the-art operation that is rarely viewed by the public.

1886 Sangurbund p.70

Next it was on to the oldest complete standing brewery structure in Milwaukee, the E.L. Husting Brewery (1877-1933), whose name is still embossed along an upper cornice of the cream city brick building, which incidentally is now home to Great Lakes Archaeological Research Center (a former employer of mine).   A block away on the NW corner of 5th and Cherry is the recently demolished site of the J. Obermann Brewery.  Prior to the tour, I used ground penetrating radar around the perimeter to determine if the sub-cellars were still detectable, as it turned out they were, some 10 feet below street level.

Tower and Brewery Sign

Finally, our final stop would be the Schlitz Brewery complex.  Pulling along side the former stables, one can still see the horse head carvings and stable sign.  Then we pulled into the brewery along side the wash house where we disembarked and made our way into the old Brown Bottle bar, which is now home to Libiamo Restaurant where the group were treated to a bottle of Schlitz each.  Taking these out into the courtyard we were able view into the brew house windows, though because of the dangerous state of the interior we were unable to access the interior.  Leonard gave a nice historical overview of the brewery, as he is the eminent scholar on the brewery’s history and is also owner of one of the largest private collections of Schlitz brewania, including a fully restored Schlitz Beer Wagon.

As the sun lowered on the horizon we boarded the bus one last time bound for DISCOVERY WORLD where we began our day more than 8 hours before and after visiting eleven brewery sites along the way. Much like the 19th hole in golf, the twelfth brewery stop for this tour was the after party at the Milwaukee Ale House where several participants met for more laughter and a well earned meal washed down with more unique locally-fermented beverages.

Photo by Michael Lerret

I think I can speak for all in that this was a momentous tour of Milwaukee’s proud brewery history and one that will certainly be repeated at a later date.  In fact, a similar-styled historic brewery tour of Milwaukee’s south side will take place on July 10th.  Stay tuned for more details on that tour!