Doors Open Milwaukee Offers a Peak Inside the City's Treasures

Sep. 17, 2013
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Consider it an early Christmas for Milwaukee history buffs, sightseers, architecture geeks and plain-old voyeurs: Doors Open Milwaukee returns this weekend for another two-day look into the city's closed-off crevices. Introduced in 2011, the event features free access to more than 100 buildings, including churches, hotels, museums, office buildings and private clubs, many of which will be offering extensive guided tours.

The event was conceived by George Wagner, a Historic Milwaukee volunteer and retired librarian for the Milwaukee Public Library who had been introduced to the idea in Toronto, which has held its own annual Doors Open event for more than a decade. After attending Denver's Doors Open event in 2008, he became convinced that the concept could flourish in Milwaukee.

"I flew out to Denver specifically for the event and really enjoyed it, but I came back thinking, 'We have a better stock of old buildings than Denver does,'" Wagner told the Shepherd. "I had been volunteering with Historic Milwaukee for some time and asked if they would be interested in organizing an event patterned after Denver's, and they suggested I take the lead."

The event runs Saturday, Sept. 21 and Sunday, Sept. 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For a guide and complete list of this year's participating buildings, visit

New this year are dining tie-ins at 10 Milwaukee restaurants: Turner Hall Restaurant, Trocadero, The Fast Foodie (at the U.S. Bank Building), Cafe Benelux, Melham Cafe, Cafe Central, Via Downer, Cafe Hollander (Tosa and Downer Avenue) and Transfer Pizzeria. When patrons mention Doors Open Milwaukee to their servers or bartenders, those restaurants will donate 20% of their check to Historic Milwaukee, Inc. It's a great way to give back without having to do much of anything.


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