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Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 51, Number 3 (Summer 2005)

Hayes, Paul G.
Hallowed ground,   pp. 29-36


Page 34

a~11~ri~ 
A GHOSTLY PRESENCE 
Today, the National Soldiers Home is a 
ghostly, beautiful, enticing presence. 
Geography, topography, and federal 
ownership protected the campus over 
the decades, even while the city of 
Milwaukee and its suburbs filled up the 
land around it. 
Major streets and roads passed close 
to the grounds, including National 
Avenue (which may have been named 
for the National Soldiers Home), Grand 
Avenue (now Wisconsin Avenue) and, 
much later, Interstate Highway 94. But 
none cut through the Soldiers Home 
campus, partly because it stands on 
dense limestone bedrock. The east face 
of the high ground is the exposed rock 
of a coral reef of the Silurian period. 
(The reef was the source of many of 
the fossils that explained the underpin- 
nings of Milwaukee-Increase A. 
Lapham, Wisconsin's first scientist and a 
founder of the Wisconsin Academy of 
Sciences, Arts and Letters, discovered it 
in the 1830s-and it was deemed impor- 
tant enough to be listed on the National 
Registration of Historic Places in 1993.) 
The federal government eventually 
gave up 137 acres of the original 400 to 
allow for the construction of Milwaukee 
County Stadium and its parking lot and 
Interstate 94, which cut through the 
cemetery on the north. In the 1990s, 
Miller Park, which towers above all else 
on the eastern horizon as viewed from 
the Soldiers Home, replaced Milwaukee 
County Stadium. 
Until the larger stadium with its high 
brick walls was built, old soldiers could 
sit on benches on top of the reef and 
watch the world-champion Milwaukee 
Braves and, later, the Milwaukee 
Brewers. 
In the 1960s, the federal government 
built the Clement J. Zablocki Hospital on 
the south edge of the campus and 
renamed the entire facility the Clement 
J. Zablocki VA Medical Center. A number 
of veterans are in residence, but they 
occupy a domiciliary built in 1933. 
Older buildings dominated by the 
main domiciliary have been grouped 
into a historic district that is the con- 
cern of Soldiers Home Foundation, Inc., 
a nonprofit working to preserve it. 
Volunteer Patricia A. Lynch, secretary- 
Posters of the performers and performances were pasted up on the walls of
a prop room at the theater. 
34  SUMMER  2005  WISCONSIN  ACADEMY  REVIEW 
an I I Prin 


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