Historic Old Main: The decay and rebirth of Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home

Special Coverage

“The Soldiers Home is critical to understanding Wisconsin’s important place at the beginning of veteran patient care. This project is about more than preserving the brick and mortar of buildings, it’s about renewing the legacy of these buildings and returning them to the veterans who they were uniquely designed to serve.” – Jim Draeger, Wisconsin State Historic Preservation Office

Once a beacon of solace for traumatized Civil War veterans, Milwaukee’s Old Main stood for a century and a half as a symbol of healing. Because of wear from the elements over time and neglect, the historical Soldiers Home faced the threat of decay and eventual demolition. After years of struggle, the spirit of community intervention finally breathed new life into the storied institution. Through dedicated restoration efforts, the once-fading monument has been reimagined and rejuvenated. It now serves as a modern housing facility for veterans, reaffirming Milwaukee’s age-old pledge to honor and support local men and women who served their nation. mkeind.com/oldmain

The Milwaukee PBS used many images taken by Milwaukee Independent’s senior photojournalist, Lee Matz, for its 2023 documentary about Old Main: A Hallowed Home for Heroes