Known as Old Main, the Civil War Era Soldiers Home has been undergoing months of historic restorations and conversion into new apartments for Milwaukee area veterans, and remains on schedule for a March opening for its first residents.

A $200,000 donation from the project’s lead contractor, JP Cullen, on October 29 added significantly to the funds being raised to complete the $44 million project. The complex of vintage buildings from the 1800s is located on the grounds of the Clement J. Zablocki Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Efforts to save the landmark from demolition began years ago, followed by work to preserve and repurpose the structure.

“The Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (HACM) is honored to continue its tradition of serving veterans by being a partner in the Soldiers Home project,” said Willie Hines, Associate Director of HACM. “It is a labor of love that has required the collective effort of many to preserve this historic landmark and provide those who serve our country with high-quality, affordable housing designed for veterans so they have an opportunity to thrive.”

In 1948, HACM began constructing the Berryland, Northlawn, and Southlawn housing developments to provide homes to nearly one thousand World War II veterans and their families. The agency has also renovated Surgeon’s Quarters on the Veteran Affairs grounds and constructed Victory Manor at Westlawn Gardens, both of which offer veteran preference housing with supportive services available from community organizations.

“Old Main has been one of the most complex historic projects we’ve done yet. Complexity aside, this has been different for us from the beginning. Almost sacred,” said Joe Alexander, President of the Alexander Company. “We continue to be very proud of our work in bringing these historic buildings back to life for the veterans they were initially built to serve, and very much look forward to welcoming them home this spring.”

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Originally published by Lee Matz in Milwaukee Independent.