Tuesday, August 20, 2013

NORTHWESTERN BRANCH, NATIONAL HOME FOR DISABLED VOLUNTEER SOLDIERS

Attracted by the hundreds of identical gravestones in the military cemetery visible off I-94 just west of Miller Park, a few weeks ago I paid a visit to what is now know as the Clement Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center, along with my camera.  The facility, including a number of buildings as well as the cemetery, was originally built in the late 1860s to care for Civil War veterans.

Unfortunately, although the grounds are well maintained, most of the buildings, closed many years ago, are in very poor condition.  Here are a couple of shots of one of the main buildings, which includes an interesting, if dilapidated, system of mansard roofs.




Here is a shot of the gothic arch at the main entrance to the building.


Following is a shot of Ward Memorial Hall, a entertainment venue that witnessed a number of notable celebrity appearances--decades ago--including Bob Hope, Ethel Merman, Will Rogers, Burns & Allen, and Liberace.  Yikes.


It was designed by Henry Koch, the same architect who designed Milwaukee's City Hall.  Despite its deteriorating condition, the building has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1984.

I turned a shot of one of the buildings into a black & white, which seemed to emphasize better the neglect that these buildings have seen.


The following sign was over the entrance to one of the buildings that could have been a train station.


The cemetery adjoining the Veterans Home campus is well maintained.  I tried to capture the combination of the highly uniform grid of gravestones laid out on nicely rolling grounds.



The grounds were extremely quiet on the day I visited, a Saturday afternoon.  I only saw a few other individuals, mostly joggers just passing through.  Although I would have liked to explore the interiors of some of the buildings, they were all closed, in part because they were not in safe condition.  The following sign pretty much sums things up.


John

1 comment:

  1. The poor condition of these buildings make for interesting subjects, but it is sad to see them in such a dilapidated state. Your pictures make a fine record for the generations who will never get to see them. Restored, these building could serve many uses. Sadly, someday we will find the money to tear them down.
    Allan Block

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