Historic Milwaukee aims to change views of Milwaukee

Historic Milwaukee, Inc. will present two events in the coming month to change residents’ views of Milwaukee and engage them in bold discussions about the future of the city.

“Remarkable Milwaukee,” scheduled for Monday, Feb. 25, will honor Conrad Schmitt Studios and the Gruenke Family and celebrate their impact on the City of Milwaukee. The arts and craftsman studio, founded in 1889 by Conrad Schmitt, has helped to beautify the city through its focus on restoration, decorative painting, stained glass services, murals, mosaics and more.

The studio, purchased by Bernard Gruenke in 1953, has been run by the Gruenke family for three generations. The event will touch on the story behind the company’s evolution and will also honor the life of Bernard Gruenke, who passed away last year at the age of 99.

Event attendees will get a premier glimpse of renderings created by Conrad Schmitt Studios artisans. The collection of renderings, set to travel nationwide, will be on display for attendees at the Hilton Garden Inn, 611 N. Broadway St. in Milwaukee.

Attendees will then be treated to a dinner and silent auction at the Grain Exchange Room in the Mackie Building, 225 E. Michigan St., followed by a program celebrating Conrad Schmitt Studios and the Gruenke family.

“Remarkable Milwaukee” attendees will receive free admission to Historic Milwaukee, Inc.’s “Envisioning the Seen” event, scheduled for Monday, March 11. With a group of city leaders from a diversity of disciplines, “Envisioning the Seen” will act as an experimental civic discussion about the future of Milwaukee.

“We’re not creating a formal plan, but what we’re trying to do is make public this type of no-limit, visionary thinking that gets people to step outside of themselves a little and just really think about Milwaukee as a whole and what their ideals are for the city, not just for a particular sector or profession,” said Anna-Marie Opgenorth, executive director of Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

The discussion, featuring participant speakers like Barry Mandel of Mandel Group, Inc. and Sue Black of the Milwaukee Wave, will take place on the stage of the Pabst Theater, 144 E. Wells St. in Milwaukee. The stage will be set as a Victorian living room, and speakers will be served drinks by an onstage barista.

The relaxed environment aims to help participants feel more comfortable in stepping outside themselves and exchanging dialogue, Opgenorth said.

The event, presented in part by the Pabst Theater Foundation, will answer questions related to participants’ vision for Milwaukee, potential roadblocks to activating that vision and ways to remove those roadblocks.

The discussion will be followed by an audience question and answer session. Historic Milwaukee, Inc. will also live tweet the discussion so that Milwaukee residents not attending can get in on the conversation. Questions can be tweeted to @HistoricMKE with the hashtag #EnvisioningtheSeen.

“We also want everybody to go away feeling empowered about letting go of fear to express their vision for things and then also knowing that the tools do exist and they have the ability to work with the rest of the community to make that happen,” Opgenorth said.

Tickets to “Remarkable Milwaukee” cost $85 for Historic Milwaukee, Inc. members and $95 for nonmembers. Tickets for “Envisioning the Seen” cost $5 for members and $10 for nonmembers. For more information about both events, visit www.historicmilwaukee.org.

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