Saturday, September 24, 2016


Each of the times that I have explored the various of the venues during Milwaukee's annual Doors Open event, I have included the Mackie Building, in downtown Milwaukee.  The building was constructed in 1879 and originally housed the city's chamber of commerce and its grain exchange, which for a time was the largest in the country.  The chamber of commerce moved long ago and the grain exchange was discontinued in 1935.  Fortunately, much of the grain exchange room's decor has been preserved or restored.

The building's stone exterior is very ornate but is undergoing renovation and was draped in scaffolding at the time of my visit.  The grain exchange room was also undergoing some restoration, but was otherwise available for photography.  it remains a gorgeous space.  The room is three stories high and includes a second floor balcony on the south wall.  I took the following shot from the center of the balcony.

A few comments regarding this shot.  First, it was a sunny day, and there was great contrast between the light pouring through the windows and the relative darkness of the interior, so I had to work in post processing to rescue this shot.  I do think the shot gives a good sense of the space that the room presents.  The room serves as a banquet hall for private parties, and it is obvious that it was set up for a party later that day.  I just wish the tablecloths had been a color more compatible with the earth tones of the overall decor.  Note that while the major arches are symmetrical the windows and pillars on the opposite wall are not.  I chose to center on the middle arch and let the windows go.  My guess is that the asymmetry in the windows relates to the fact that this room occupies only one side of the building.  I assume that the front facade of the building offers an overall symmetry from the outside.

The space includes a number of stained glass windows that have been nicely restored and maintained.

Note the grain motif.

That same grain motif is carried through in a series of murals and handprinted frescos.  This includes the undersides of the ceiling arches, as in the following vertical shots.

Here, finally is another fresco on one of the walls in the balcony area.

I consider this to be one of Milwaukee's hidden gems.  It is unfortunate that the space is only available for private parties and not the general public.


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