The Milwaukee Soldiers Home along with the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center is celebrating its distinction as a national historic landmark today with a ceremony to present the official plaque to the community and highlight the site’s historical significance.
The Milwaukee Soldiers Home, which exists as one of three original soldiers’ homes in the country, opened to the public in 1867 as a revolutionary facility offering housing, recovery and medical services to Civil War veterans.
“This is an incredible honor because there’s fewer than 2,500 national historic landmarks across the entire country,” said Genell Scheurell, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a private, nonprofit, membership-based organization that advocates for the protection and maintenance of historical sites across America.
“That makes this – the Milwaukee Soldiers Home – a very special place,” Scheurell said.
Milwaukee’s home prevails as the one with the most historic resources and original design landscape still intact, according to Scheurell.
The national historic landmark honor acknowledges the historic grounds of the VA campus, which includes 41 buildings constructed in the late 1800s through the 1930s.
The VA Medical Center has begun to proactively care for three large vacant buildings on the property – Old Main, the Ward Theater and the chapel. In addition to improving water infiltration in the theater, the center has been repairing the roof of the theater as well as the roof of Old Main.
“They’re starting to take some really great steps to care for these buildings, and we’re so pleased about that, to make that part of the celebration as well,” Scheurell said.
The operating VA Medical Center, located at 5000 W. National Ave., opened its doors in 1966 and sees more than 60,000 veterans each year.
“We are deeply honored to be given national historic landmark status, which underscores how important these buildings are to the community, and our ongoing commitment to veterans of all eras,” said Robert Beller, VA Medical Center director. “We continue to honor President Lincoln’s vision by being good stewards of our history, while making sure we provide world-class health care to our veterans.”