Doors Open Milwaukee offers places to explore beyond downtown
It’s time for one of the city’s biggest annual events: Doors Open Milwaukee.
More than 100 urban and cultural landmarks will be open for tours and behind-the-scenes exploration on September 24-25.
And while downtown spots get a lot of attention — like Milwaukee City Hall and the Fiserv Forum — there’s plenty to see and experience in the city’s neighborhoods.
Here are some places outside of downtown to visit during Doors Open, presented by Historic Milwaukee Inc..
North Milwaukee Art House
5151 N. 35th St.
Open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sept. 24, closed Sept. 25.
A former fire station built more than 100 years ago will be the new residence of Quasimondo Physical Theatera local entertainment company.
The North Milwaukee Art House still has the original 56-foot tower when it served as the Village Hall and North Milwaukee Fire Hall. North Milwaukee eventually became part of Milwaukee.
Join a visit to the new theater led by Brian Rott, Executive Director of Quasimondo, at 10 a.m., noon, and 2 p.m. on September 24, or explore at your own pace.
Water pumping station
626 E. North Ave.
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24, closed Sept. 25.
A 20 million gallon pump is big. Now imagine three of them.
Centrifugal pumps and giant transmission pipes will be on display at Milwaukee Water Works’ Kilbourn Reservoir Pumping Station. The station was decommissioned in 2004 when the reservoir was emptied and a hill rose above it.
Peek inside a rarely open building to learn more about the water in Milwaukee, then head to the top of Reservoir Park for one of the best skyline views in the city .
Green technology station
4101 N. 31st St.
Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 24, closed Sept. 25.
A plot of land that was once abandoned, degraded and contaminated is now houses an environmental laba research plaza and art installation for scholars and field trips for students of all ages.
The City of Milwaukee, a non-profit organization called Reflo, and the Northwest Side Community Development Corporation have partnered to transform the former railroad refueling area into a place to learn about stormwater management, green infrastructure, environment, brownfield redevelopment and clean energy.
The site is now home to 450 planted trees, 21,000 square feet of native grassland, a constructed wetland, a 20,000 gallon cistern to catch rainwater, and scattered artwork.
Community in the corridor
3100 Center Street West.
Open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. from September 24 to 25
Visitors to Doors Open will get a first glimpse of the $68 million transformation of a former Briggs & Stratton industrial complex.
Spanning two blocks, the property will house nearly 200 affordable apartments and 60,000 square feet of commercial and community space, including a courtyard, gymnasium, daycare center and youth and adult development programs.
The complex includes six industrial buildings that date from 1906 and were used primarily for storage for decades. The redevelopment of the site began in the spring of 2021, and already around a third of the apartments are occupied.
The Collaborative Farm
5500 W. Silver spring drive
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24-25.
The Collaborative Farm is a three-acre urban farmhouse reimagined as a hybrid of farmhouse and public space.
The site includes a historic greenhouse from 1926, and inside there is an aquaponics system, a small concert hall and a public space. Outside, visitors can see space for animals and other forms of agriculture.
Visitors attending the Doors Open event will receive a free pass to the Farm Music Festivalorganized by the Collaborative Farm on October 8 and 9.
App-based walking and biking tour
Available from September 24
A former Coast Guard station, the scene of a successful American Indian Movement occupation, a cemetery home to centuries-old Mississippi mounds, and a boxing club started by a Golden Glove state champion on the south side of Milwaukee.
All are stops on the Milwaukee Native Tour which will show what came before the city now known as Milwaukee, and how Native Americans continue to shape the city and its future.
McKinley Park Coast Guard Station was demolished, but 51 years ago Native American activists took over the building, which had been vacated by the Coast Guard, and occupied it for several years. The building became one of the first homes of the Indian Community School, which was founded by three Oneida women who wanted their children’s schooling to be influenced by Indigenous culture, language and values. The school still lives today in Franklin.
Basilica of St. Josaphat
2333 S. 6th St.
Open 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Sept. 24, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 25.
St. Josaphat Basilica is located on the south side of Milwaukee. The parish, rich in Polish history, serves Milwaukee’s diverse Catholic community.
The history of the basilica dates back to 1888 and was made from parts of a demolished federal building in Chicago.
Visitors will learn about the challenges architects, religious leaders and parishioners overcame to make the basilica the historic treasure it is today.
Take a guided tour on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. or explore on your own on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Havenwoods State Forest
6141 N. Hopkins Street
Open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 25.
Wisconsin’s only urban state forest is located on the north side of Milwaukee. Covering 237 acres, Havenwoods State Forest is a place to hike, run, bike and view wildlife on over 6 miles of trails.
But the history of the forest is as diverse as the wildlife that inhabits it. Once a family property in the mid-1800s, it was later the site of a prison and military base – including a Nike missile site – and then a municipal landfill.
Visitors will learn how a vocal group of citizens, community leaders and public servants worked together to make this land a green space in the middle of a large urban community.
Havenwoods Nature Center is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday to Saturday. Open doors visitors can take part in a special presentation on the history of Havenwoods at the start of the hour on Sundays only, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Value Creative Collective
128 Burleigh Street East
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24-25.
Learn how a model-turned-carpenter transforms a historic former bakery into a community resource center.
Tonda Thompson is the brains and the force behind Valor MKE, a creative collective space which consists of a carpentry workshop, a photography and videography studio and a resource center. The mission is to create a safe space for learning, encouraging entrepreneurship, self-determination, and physical and mental well-being in the community.
Helmets are mandatory as the building is under construction.
Lynden Sculpture Garden
2145 W. Brown Deer Road
Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 24.
Lynden Sculpture Garden combines art and nature, offering visitors a unique outdoor experience. The former estate of Harry and Peg Bradley contains over 50 sculptures scattered over 40 acres of parkland, lake and woodland.
The Bradleys purchased the original farmhouse, barn and cornfield in the 1920s. They began collecting sculptures in 1962.
During Doors Open, visitors can explore independently, take mini-tours of the sculptures, or participate in a self-guided activity.
HoneyBee Sage Wellness & Apothecary
1819 N. King Drive
Open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24-25.
Finding the right balance in life is the mission of HoneyBee Sage Wellness & Apothecary. HoneyBee Sage Wellness & Apothecary is a “global community of local healers” dedicated to helping people restore, maintain and improve their health and well-being.
The apothecary has become a resource for herbs, medicinal teas, clean body products, and metaphysical healing tools. The apothecary partners with local creatives and healers to offer a wide range of products, and recently expanded to King Drive from its original location at 9141 W. Lisbon Ave.