Down to the Bone

MSOE’s Campus Center building, originally the Valentin Blatz Brewing Co. Bottle House, is getting some major restoration work done. Windows are being replaced, as is apparently much of the exterior facade.

Today I noticed that that the work seems to be going all the way down to the girders! So this is a seriously substantial “spruce up.”

By the way, those yellow bricks rounding the corner and apparently underlying the tan-colored tiles covering the rest of the building? They may be Cream City Brick, but the yellow seems just a little too saturated for Milwaukee’s famous homegrown building material. In fact, these bricks look strikingly similar to the glazed ones you can find inside the building—for example, in the women’s room just off the Todd Wehr Auditorium lobby and on an old section of wall on the mezzanine (near the V.P. of Academics’ office) that looks like it might have been the bottling plant’s original interior. The only difference seems to be that there’s no glaze on the part that wound up hidden away beneath the building’s exterior tiles.

If it turns out these bricks and the ones used for interior walls actually are the same material, it’s interesting that the same item should have been been employed both decoratively and functionally. I mean, why spend extra money on something no one will ever see (until 70 years later, during extensive maintenance 🙂 )? Unless maybe the original builder got a great price for buying in bulk!

About Katherine Wikoff

I am a college professor at Milwaukee School of Engineering, where I teach literature, film studies, political science, and communication. I also volunteer with a Milwaukee homeless sanctuary, Repairers of the Breach, as chair of the Communications and Fund Development Committee.
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