One of Milwaukee’s most recognizable historic buildings completed $51 million of restoration and opened its doors to the public on April 25 for tours, and in celebration of its transformation into a hub for a vibrant new community.

Originally built in 1892, the Milwaukee Fortress has been a key landmark of the Brewers Hill neighborhood. The grand opening event had live music, food, guided tours, and highlighted its new phase as a mix of apartments and commercial space.

“I think The Fortress is going to add an important vitality to this part of downtown. We continue to see more apartments and condos developing, so clearly there is a strong interest for being in the heart of the city,” said Mayor Tom Barrett.

The Fortress has been part of the fabric of downtown Milwaukee for more than a century. At one point it was the biggest tannery in the world, where thousands of pairs of shoes were produced daily.

“Of course, I would love to have that type of activity here, but things have changed,” added Mayor Barrett. “So having companies like JP Cullen move in shows what can be done when a business and a neighborhood meld together.”

Other elected officials who visited during the open house included Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Alderman Nik Kovac, State Representative Kalan Haywood II, and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes.

The adaptive reuse project modernized around 200,000-square feet of the 125 year-old Fortress, while retaining his historic foundations. The gathering was an opportunity to introduce the building’s second chance at life to the area community.

The Milwaukee Independent has previously documented different stages of redevelopment within The Fortress over the past year. These images feature some of the sights and participants from the grand opening event.