Eschweiler Update: Developer Stands By Stance to Raze Historic Buildings

The debate around the Eschweiler Buildings has waged back and forth for the past few months with the latest stance coming from Barry Mandel, the site's developer. Mandel believes razing the historic buidlings are the only workable course of action for the property. An excerpt from Jim Price's article has more of the story:

After a month of pondering alternatives, Barry Mandel, who wants to buy and redevelop the Eschweiler Campus on the County Grounds, repeated Wednesday that he would need to demolish three out of four historic buildings for his plan to work.

But preservationists were out in force to condemn any course that failed to preserve the buildings as a group, which they said has always been Wauwatosa's intention and official position.

Mandel, president of Mandel Group, with lead staff and consultants, made a second presentation Wednesday night to the Wauwatosa Historic Preservation Commission, after first coming to the panel on May 3. No formal proposal was made then or now, and no action was contemplated by the commission, but the message was strong.

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State Official: County Violated State Law In Selling Eschweiler Buildings

Here's an update on the Eschweiler Buildings for those following along with our posts. It seems that Milwaukee County acted improperly in the original sale of the Eschweiler buildings to the UWM Real Estate Foundation.  The attorney for the WI Historical Society,  Chip Brown, is now involved and has forwarded the issue to the Attorney General.  The following is an excerpt from Fox 6 West Allis' coverage of the story. Click the link at the end of the clip for the complete story.

A legal specialist for the Wisconsin Historical Society has notified the Attorney General's Office that he believes that the sale of the Eschweiler Campus Historic District by Milwaukee County to the UWM Real Estate Foundation violated state law.

He went on to say because of that, Wauwatosa should deny any request to demolish any of the Eschweiler buildings — and that in one scenario, the violations could result in as drastic an action as vacating the original land sale.

Chip Brown, an attorney and government assistance and training specialist, said the county failed to notify the state Historical Society of the sale of the historic property and failed to obtain a conservation easement to protect it.

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Finding Common Ground

Finding Common Ground

A Wauwatosa-based coalition, dedicated to preserving a delicate natural ecosystem, has aligned itself with the Wisconsin Trust for Historic Preservation in an effort to preserve a portion of the Milwaukee County Grounds that once was home to the Milwaukee County School of Agriculture and Domestic Economy. The building group was designed by Andrew C. Eschweiler, a prominent Milwaukee architect who began his practice in 1890. The school opened in 1912 and provided free agricultural training to students from Milwaukee County. As the City of Milwaukee grew over the next two decades and the county's rural population decreased, enrollments dropped and the cost of running the school became prohibitive. It closed its doors in 1928. The buildings functioned in different capacities over the next many years, including its operation as the Milwaukee County Children's Home in the 1940s; the site has been nearly abandoned for over a decade.

Limited use of the property has contributed to it supporting a biodiversity of plant and animal life, including (most importantly) it being a significant migratory pathway for the monarch butterfly. Its location near the convergence of rivers and its elevation make the site a irreplaceable treasure for Milwaukee County and the State of Wisconsin.

The coalition, comprised of concerned environmental groups, prepared its "County Grounds Preservation Proposal," which promotes the rehabilitation of the Eschweiler buildings and their ongoing low-impact use as part of its over-riding objective of preserving the landscape. The WTHP is proud of its association with the coalition and believes that there is much common ground to be shared with those dedicated to raising environmental awareness. We all are committed to preserving the places that matter.

(Photo courtesy Eddee Daniel)