Fischer, Joan (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 51, Number 3 (Summer 2005)
Hayes, Paul G.
Hallowed ground, pp. 29-36
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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