The conversion of Milwaukee’s historic Soldiers Home into new apartments for veterans is nearing the finish line, with the first units set to open in March.

Also, the development’s fundraising campaign on Thursday received a $200,000 donation pledge from JP Cullen, the project’s lead contractor.

The first annual installment of $40,000 was given to the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance.

“This restoration project will protect historic architecture and bring back to life these buildings that were places of refuge and healing for so many,” said David Cullen, the firm’s chief executive officer.

The donation is part of a long campaign to preserve 19th-century buildings that make up the Soldiers Home complex on the grounds of the Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

“We are grateful to JP Cullen for their generous contribution,” said Peter Zanghi, alliance president.

The Soldiers Home development is being led by Madison-based Alexander Co.

The project is creating 101 apartments for veterans and their families.

That includes 80 one- and two-bedroom apartments at Old Main, the original Soldiers Home that opened in 1869. It initially housed Civil War veterans and was home to generations of other vets before closing in 1989.

Old Main, the largest of the historic buildings, will include community rooms, a fitness center and offices for counseling services.

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Originally published by Tom Daykin in Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.