Rust Belt Takeover of Milwaukee! Itinerary of Events



Milwaukee Preservation Alliance (MPA) is excited to partner with The Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists to host the Rust Belt Takeover of Milwaukee, May 10th-12th. Highlights will include tours of the City Hall bell tower, the Mitchell Park Domes, the Soldiers Home, Frank Lloyd Wright System-Built Homes, and a party at Pabst. Click here to register! Full event descriptions below.

City Hall, Photo by Peter Zanghi
City Hall Source: Peter Zanghi

Friday, May 10

City Hall Tower (2 tours offered; Tour Group #1 at 4:00pm and Tour Group #2 at 5:00pm)

Climb the Milwaukee City Hall bell tower for fantastic views of the city. See the magnificent 8-story atrium, elaborate common council chambers, and the former bell ringer’s quarters along the way to the top. Waiver required, no high heels, no small children, approximately 200 ft climb. Locals, please do not sign up until the week before the event. Tours for locals can be arranged any time through the office of the Milwaukee City Clerk.

Pabst Brewery Complex Source: Visit Milwaukee

Welcome Party at Pabst! 6:30 pm – ????

Hop around the historic and iconic Pabst complex during the Rust Belt Takeover welcome event! Full hop around schedule to be published prior to event. Drop in as you please and meet your newest and best preservation friends.


Saturday, May 11

Domes by Alexandra Lange, IG langealexandra
Mitchell Park Domes Source: Alexandra Lange

Milwaukee Domes, 9:30am -10:30am

Learn more from the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance.  

Beloved icons of the city since they opened in the 1960’s, these midcentury marvels feature three distinct climates and rare plants from all over the world.  As the world’s only “conoidal” glass structures, their unique shape allows a better angle for solar heating and more height for tall trees. Currently under threat of demolition due to a significant backlog of deferred maintenance and a temporary closure in 2016, these structures were declared a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2017.  The Milwaukee Preservation Alliance and the Trust are actively partnering to ensure that all three Domes are restored.


Soldiers Home

Soldiers Home, 11:00am- Noon

The tour will run about 45 minutes and will begin promptly at 11:00 in front of the Soldiers Home fountain, which is located across the street from Old Main, the tallest building on the campus.

Established in 1867 as a result of one of the last bills enacted by President Lincoln, the Northwest Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers is one of three original Soldiers Homes built to care for returning Civil War veterans and is the most intact.  The entire history of the VA can be observed by walking through the grounds and learning how veteran care evolved as times and needs changed. Declared a National Treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2012, the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance has partnered with the Trust ever since to ensure that the vacant buildings on the campus will be restored and put back into service of veterans.  This project was recently declared a success as work is beginning soon to restore six of the buildings and turn them into 101 units of housing for veterans and their families who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Enjoy an outdoor walking tour of this National Historic Landmark District, a tranquil village-like setting right in the middle of the city.

Learn more at

Photo Courtesy of Tim Askin

Stroll Mitchell Street, 2-4pm

Guided walking tour of Milwaukee’s Historic Mitchell Street with Mitchell Street Executive Director Nancy Bush. Since its earliest days, Mitchell Street has been the economic heart of an immigrant neighborhood, once known as the “Polish Grand Avenue,” its business community now reflects current immigration patterns. Architecturally the district ranges from a grand Polish cathedral-style church (St. Stanislaus), Prussian commercial, through to the art deco and mid-century modern eras. It is a whirlwind tour of Wisconsin commercial and civic architecture.

Art Museum by frenchieyankee
Milwaukee Art Museum Source: frenchieyankee (instagram handle)

Downtown Walking Tour, 2-4pm 

Walking tour of Juneau town from the river to the Art Museum and Juneau Park. Highlights include City Hall, Mitchell Building, Mackie Building, and County War Memorial (by Saarinen).

Bike Through History, 2-4pm

Follow a local around the Hank Aaron State Trail! You’ll see some history, some art, and a whole lot of Milwaukee

Burnham via visit Milwaukee
One of the Burnham Block homes.

Burnham Block (2 groups: Group 1 at 2pm and Group 2 at 3pm)

Take a guided tour of and see both a beautifully restored and mid-restoration American System-Built, Home model B-1 designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.


Preservation Party/ 4th Annual Beer Competition, 7:30-10:30pm

Are you ready to compete in the 4th Annual Rust Belt Beer Competition and chat about your Milwaukee adventures at this evening event? We are keeping the location mystery for a reason… sign up for this.. you won’t regret it.

Here is how the competition works:

-Bring your favorite local 6-pack or growler to the RBCoYP party!  Your 6-pack is your official entry into the competition, so if you need something to sip on before the competition starts… grab from the share table or bring extra brews.

-The competition begins promptly at 8:00 pm and winners will be announced at 9:00-ish.  Get ready to sample the Rust Belt.

-Enjoy a sample of each beer, cider, or soda brought to the competition. Once you have enjoyed tasting the flavors from around the Rust Belt, you will vote for best label and best taste. Simply put your raffle ticket in the empty cup next to the beer, and consider yourself a part of beer democracy.

Don’t drink beer? Don’t worry!  You can vote for best label!  And if you try to slip a craft soda into the competition, we won’t be mad.  We will be excited to sample one of your state’s delicious products.

All beverages will be available for consumption after competition winners are announced, so get ready for the best BYOB of your life.

*Taste testers will each get a sample of the beverage, not a full can.  Think of this like the biggest beer flight you have ever experienced.


Sunday Morning

Oriental 10am – Noon

Milwaukee’s most elaborate movie palace and the new permanent home of the Milwaukee Film Festival. Architecture is not traditionally “Oriental”, and is an homage to East Indian culture and architecture. Built by local architects Dick and Bauer for the local Saxe Brothers theater chain.