A new proposal has been floated to rehab the 1916 Coast Guard Station along Milwaukee's lakefront, calling for conversion of the Prairie Style building to a maritime museum focused on Milwaukee and Lake Michigan. The time limits on the previous proposal, an Indian cultural center that's been floating around in fund-raising limbo for 4 years, expired over the summer, prompting Milwaukee County to call for its demolition.
The Coast Guard station has been allowed to rot for decades, subject to fires, a deteriorating roof, and a collapsing sea wall. In its current state, it's one of those buildings that easy for laypersons or developers to dismiss as an "eyesore" (one of my pet peeve words as it's so often abused and misused.)
Renovated, however, it could be a thing of unquestioned beauty. It's a bit hard to see through all the window boardups and general decay -- this building has none of the ornamental razzamatazz of City Hall or the Pfister Hotel. Its beauty is a bit more subtle.... and till it's renovated, it's hard to fully appreciate.
I will say this: it's absurd that anyone would oppose a private for-profit entity's proposals to redevelop this historic property. Opposition to private business on the lakefront is meant to keep it from turning into a giant parking lot or housing development -- not to remove options from preserving important parts of its own heritage. We allow the marina to operate. There's a kite stand, a concession stand, bike rentals, the Art Museum, Discovery World, Alterra... we really couldn't find a way to let some restauranteer or other willing entrepreneur get in and do what must be done to salvage the Coast Guard Station?
The building after an April 2005 fire that damaged the roof.
This is an existing building, not someone coming in out of the blue and gobbling up open park land. It's a part of the lakefront's heritage. Show some common sense, Milwaukee! This handsome beast deserves to be saved.