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



Neighborhood History Exhibit To Be Unveiled Friday July 26

As you may recall, as part of our 40th anniversary this year, HWTN has been sponsoring an exciting UWM study of our  neighborhood history.

On Friday July 26, the study will be unveiled to the neighbors. Below is a flyer with details on the event. Come and learn what UWM students and staff have found through their studies and join us in this fun event celebrating our neighborhood.

07.03.13 HWTN Save the Date Pic Mke


June 5 meeting features history of trains on Milwaukee’s East Side

Mark your calendar for Wednesday June 5 and a fascinating talk on how trains affected the development of the HWTN neighborhood. It’ll be presented by Kevin Keefe, vice president-editorial and publisher of Kalmbach Publishing Co. and former editor of its Trains Magazine (and an HWTN member).

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. in Lake Park Pavilion’s Marcia Coles Community Room. Watch this space, our Facebook page and member emails for more details.

Attend HWTN wine tasting Oct. 20 to help fund unique neighborhood history project

Join us at an Historic Water Tower Neighborhood  wine-tasting fundraiser at 7 p.m. Saturday Oct. 20, 2012, to support a unique University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee project documenting the history of our area.

In addition to learning first-hand, er, taste, about the six great grapes of the world and socializing with friends, you’ll be helping us fund a special and important local history project as part of HWTN’s 40th anniversary next year.

This intimate, limited-attendance event, features a wine tasting led by Ben Christiansen, HWTN member and owner of Waterford Wine Company on Brady St. HWTN member Mary Beth Geraci has donated Green & Black’s Organic and Lindt chocolates to pair with the wine and complement our other appetizers (cheese, fruit, sausage). HWTN Membership VP and artist Thea Kovac is also donating a dozen hand-painted wine glasses that will be raffled off.

The special event will be held at the Lake Dr. home of members Bridget and Ingmar Viohl, 2659 N. Lake Dr. Only 50 people can be accommodated. The event costs $50 per person and is open only to HWTN and their guests.

Information on RSVP’s will be included in invitations sent to members by mail and email in the near future. Watch for your invitation, and be sure to RSVP in advance, by the Oct. 15 RSVP deadline. If you have questions or don’t receive your invitation, please email us here.

The fundraiser will help fund UWM’s creation of a permanent historic record of our neighborhood and its residents. The project involves a field study that is a joint venture between the UWM Department of History and the graduate-level Buildings-Landscapes-Cultures (BLC) program, which enrolls both UWM architecture students and UW-Madison art history students. It will study historic changes that have taken place in the North Point Neighborhood by gathering residents’ oral histories, performing archival research and creating architectural floor plans of neighborhood buildings. It will focus on mundane spaces such as smaller residences, stores, and public spaces. Additionally, the field study features an ecological component that will connect people, nature and water.

The study will create a data base of oral histories of local residents, visual and architectural documentation of buildings and landscapes, multimedia digital documentaries showcasing the neighborhood and a website with documentations and documentaries.

Learn more about the project here and read about a similar field study partially completed of the Thurson Woods neighborhood here.


Be sure to send in your check ASAP to reserve your space for this fun event benefiting a great neighborhood project, which will help us commemorate HWTN’s 40 years of service to your neighborhood!