Historic Milwaukee Pub & Housing Tours

by Jim Loew


If You Go:

Saturday, May 14 Pub Crawl, Sunday May 21 Spaces & Traces Housing Tour

5PM – 9:30PM

Presale ticket prices: $20 (HMI members) | $25 (nonmembers) – One ticket for both events – Ticket locations at end of story.


“Spaces and Traces” Knows How to Celebrate:

Historic Taverns of Riverwest Pub Crawl

by Jim Loew


Spaces & Traces is turning 30!  And the folks responsible for making it happen every year want you to come celebrate the occasion like only they know how to.  So from 5 to9:30 PM Saturday, May 14, Historic Milwaukee, Inc. (HMI) will present the “Historic Taverns of Riverwest Crawl.” Think of this as a pre-party to this year’s annual Spaces & Traces open house event that takes place Saturday, May 21 and will feature 11 historic homes of Riverwest.


The Crawl will spotlight eight Riverwest taverns with historic significance.  You can meet at any one of them to begin the festivities.  “We will have volunteers stationed at registration tables at each location where you purchase your ticket and pick up your Tavern Crawl map and receive your wrist band. One ticket gets you in to all the taverns. For the purchase price, you also get four tickets for Lakefront (beer) samplings good at any of the seven taverns that will be featuring a specific Lakefront beer,” said Erin Dorbin, programdirector for HMI.  “This excludes Stonefly, because they brew their own beer.”


From there, the tour is pretty much self-guided.  The map you’ll be handed will provide a listing of scheduled events, so you can plan accordingly.  There are three mini-tours as well, that will be led by three experienced HMI guides, which will run about 30minutes each.  These start at 6:30PM from three different taverns – Falcon Bowl, Gee Willickers and Tracks – and end at Stonefly where the 30th Anniversary celebration officiallykicks off at 7 PM.


Also on hand will be LakefrontBrewery co-founder Jim Klisch who’ll be re-enacting a “barrel roll” to replicate the sale of the very first barrels of Lakefront beer starting in front of the brewery’s original location at 818 E. Chambers.


More than likely, Klisch will roll that barrel over to Nessun Dorma, because according to HMI intern MatthewPrigge, “This building housed the Gordon Park Pub in the 1980s; the first barrelsof Lakefront Brewery beer were delivered and served here.”  Prigge will also tell you that the building was once home to a butcher shop, before it was converted into a speakeasy in the 1920s.


Nessun Dorma wasn’t the only speakeasy in Riverwest, though. Another stop on the Crawl is Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, built in1884.  “During Prohibition,” saidPrigge, “one of the neighborhood’s many speakeasies operated out of this building.”


Yet Riverwest isn’t only about getting its drink on. There’s a strong social and political element that takes place here, as well – not to mention a love of, well, bowling.  One tavern in particular has successfully been able to combine all those elements, and that place is the Falcon Bowl, the oldest tavern on the tour.  “This site is also the home of Milwaukee’s second-oldest bowling alley,” said Prigge.  “It’s the site of many labor organization meetings and political rallies.”  Perhaps the best known among them are the Polish Falcons, a fraternal organization that uses the hall for their monthly meeting.  “They’ve been using it since 1945,” said Prigge.


That’s just a taste of the information you’ll discover on the Crawl as part of the birthday celebration for Spaces & Traces, which began in 1981.  “Thirty consecutive years of opening for discovery the architectural spaces and historical traces of our city’s neighborhoods has forever woven this tour into Milwaukee’s cultural experience and memory,” saidDorbin.  “Spaces & Traces is avery special event in that it sustains the many educational programs of Historic Milwaukee while offering a gift for posterity to a Milwaukeeneighborhood.”


Historic Milwaukee, Inc. is a private, nonprofit educational organization that offers tours and programs as a means of preserving Milwaukee’s deep, vibrant history and architecture.  Incredibly, they accomplish this without government funding.  “The bulk of its income is raised through programs like Spaces & Traces, from membership fees, and from the kind generosity of its contributors,” saidDorbin.


The ticket you buy for this event, then, not only puts you in the action for a smashing time, but it also helps support HMI.  And don’t worry if you don’t buy your ticket in advance, because you can buy it on the day at any of the eight taverns.  Moreover, if all of this is not enough to coax you out to this event, the ticket you buy is actually part of a package deal, which means that you get to participate in both the Historic Taverns of Riverwest Crawl and the Spaces & Traces tour of 11 Riverwest homes.  Talk about a fantastic deal, this is it.  Turning 30 has never felt so good!


Uptowner, Classic Riverwest tap, Easter Sunday, Photo by Brian Hayes  uptownereaster_web.jpg



If You Go:

Saturday, May 14 Pub Crawl, Sunday May 21 Spaces & Traces Housing Tour

5PM – 9:30PM

Presale ticket prices: $20 (HMImembers) | $25 (nonmembers) – One ticket for both events

Tickets available at: HMI office,Winkie’s Variety Store, Alterra on Humboldt, Alterra at the Lake, Alterra onProspect, Stonefly Brewery, and Boston Stores (Milwaukee area).  Or the day of at any of the eighttaverns.


Falcon Bowl, 801 E. Clarke St.

Gee Willickers, 2578 N. DousmanSt.

Linneman’s Riverwest Inn, 1001 E.Locust St.

Nessun Dorma, 2778 N. Weil St.

Riverwest Public House, 815 E.Locust St.

Stonefly Brewery, 735 E. CenterSt.

Tracks, 1020 E. Locust St.

Uptowner, 1032 E. Center St.