UWM students shine light on buildings, people and history of HWTN area

A cornucopia of historical and contemporary multimedia documentation about the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood area has been developed and is now available as part of a “field study” focused on our neighborhood this summer by students in the Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures collaborative project at UW Milwaukee and Madison.

Students unveiled their field work in July before a standing-room-only crowd of HWTN members and others at an event organized by the UWM School of Architecture and Urban Planning at the university’s Hefter Conference Center.

The results of the studies and the multimedia products are newly available for browsing and viewing on the project’s “Picturing Milwaukee: The 2013 BLC Field School” website.









The website includes a huge variety of text, photos, video and audio documenting our neighborhood. Topics include places along the Lake Michigan shore (such as the Water Tower, North Point Lighthouse, Lake Park and Bradford Beach), Downer Avenue’s shops, a number of beautiful historic homes, insights from area residents, Villa Terrace and old postcards. The site also includes mini-documentaries and an online forum for residents to discuss the neighborhood.

In describing the effort, the BLC field school website said:

“We seek to explore, examine, highlight, and share myriad neighborhoods stories of community engagement, dreams of a bright future, and fond memories of a rich past. “

HWTN raised $2,300 to help fund this year’s field school to commemorate our group’s founding 40 years ago. The funds were raised through a wine tasting,  silent auction at the annual holiday party and $500 donation from our group.

TerraceMany HWTN members worked with the students by providing guidance, review, interviews and access to their homes.

The project website described the collaboration this way:

“We are thankful to the Historic Water Tower neighborhood residents for welcoming us in their midst and for helping us document their stories. Neighborhood scholars mentored our students and reviewed their projects. The neighborhood association raised funds, provided us with classroom space and helped us in data collection. Residents allowed us to enter their buildings, measure and document them and allowed us to interview them.”

“This project coincides with the 40-year celebration of the Historic Water Tower neighborhood organization and we plan to mark this occasion by highlighting stellar stories of stewardship by local residents. In this field school, we have documented a few buildings and collected many oral histories of stalwarts and leaders from this neighborhood.”

HWTN appreciates the hard work, talent and outcome of the students and staff on this project. Now, with so much material available on the website, we encourage people to look at what the students uncovered and recorded. Let us know what you discover — and what you think about it!

– Jeff Bentoff