Day #2: No Grumps Here!

Autumn leaves 2014

When your husband is owner of the greatest team in the NFL, you don’t spend Sunday afternoons driving around looking at scenery.

Well, he’s part owner.

Okay, well, he’s a shareholder, one of an intimate 363,491 fellow shareholders.

Still, it’s very important that my husband watch the games. So Sunday, after attending the friendly and welcoming Faith Lutheran Church in Reedsburg and checking out the Shoe Box in Black Earth, we headed on down to Mount Horeb to watch the Green Bay Packers.

Mount Horeb, population 7000, is a quaint little town. Hey, it’s the troll capital of the world! It’s also home to the Fisher King Winery, a delicious Main Street presence, and the Duluth Trading Company, a flagship in a wonderful, creaky-floored mercantile building.

But most important to my husband on Sunday at noon, Mount Horeb is home to the Grumpy Troll Brew Pub.

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub

Grumpy Troll Brew Pub, Mount Horeb, Wisconsin

What a fun place! Located in the 1916 Mount Horeb Creamery building, it’s been a restaurant and brewery since 1996. There’s a family restaurant on the first floor and a pizzeria on the second, along with the very important large screen TVs in every which direction.

Mural in Grumpy Troll's Pizzeria

Is this a young and thin Martin Luther? Just wondering, you know, with Reformation coming up and all. This mural is on the wall of the Grumpy Trolls upstairs pizzeria.

Anyway, our daughter and son-in-law joined us and we enjoyed sharing good food and beer. Best of all, the Packers won 27-24 in a last minute drive. Based on the loud whoops, there were no grumpy trolls watching this game!

Ratings

Adunate rates the Grumpy Troll Brewpub in Mount Horeb, WIBeer
I feel bad awarding brewmaster Mark Knoebl only one stein, especially since he’s won so many awards elsewhere. He features up to twelve beers on tap, of all tastes and styles. Refreshingly, his beer menu changes regularly and as it happened Sunday an Oktoberfest wasn’t on the list. Oh well, there were many others to try. Our son-in-law, a hobbyist brewer himself, and daughter both appreciate a hoppier flavor and their eyes lit up when they tasted the Hoppa Loppa.

Ambiance
Of course I loved the old building. It’s wonderfully preserved and furnished with appropriate decor. The staff was super friendly and it was a fun place to watch the game.

Food: Great!

Community
With lots of interesting shops, one could spend a fun day in downtown Mount Horeb. The area also boasts a bike trail, parks and many other attractions. Sadly, one of its greatest historical sites, Little Norway, is closing after 86 years.

Copy and Design
I love it! The Grumpy Troll has a super website with fun information about its history, the building, its food and beer. Be sure to keep scrolling down while on the home page so you don’t miss any of this good stuff. And who wouldn’t like a logo with a cute grumpy troll guy?!

Next stop: New Glarus Brewing Company

Preserving Faith and Natural Resources

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Who says churches aren’t sustainable? Last weekend we toured Doors Open Milwaukee and the top “must-see” on my list was the Basilica of St. Josaphat. Wow! Step inside this work of art and you experience sustainability in more ways than one.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

According to the basilica’s story, in the late 1800s Polish immigrants were pouring into this neighborhood of south Milwaukee and 12,000 of them were members of St. Josaphat. The parish’s Father Wilhelm Grutza sought a way to affordably build a larger church. He learned of plans to demolish the Chicago Post Office and Custom House, so for $20,000 he was able to purchase the salvaged materials and have them shipped up to Milwaukee. From this the parish built its new church. It was completed in 1901.

It’s often said that churches of old were believed to be portals to the divine, that their beauty helped prepare parishioners to the experience of worship. It this were true, Milwaukee’s doorway would open straight to the heavens. There is an exceptional number of stunningly beautiful churches in this city and as we stood outside St. Josaphat, we knew this was one of them.

And then we stepped inside the nave…

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

We were completely blown away! I’ve never been in European cathedrals, but this is how I imagine them to be—breathtakingly beautiful.

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

Over the years I’ve been accumulating a photography collection of rose windows. St. Josaphat added quite a few to my collection!

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, WI

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Milwaukee, WI

Basilica of St. Josaphat, Doors Open Milwaukee

I appreciate religious organizations that aren’t shy in promoting their history or their physical assets. In a lower level of St. Josaphat, the parish displays a fascinating timeline of its structure. It’s a wonderful illustration of how much God has done for them and reminds members to be good stewards of their wonderful blessings!

So that’s it folks, our day of Doors Open Milwaukee! Definitely a worthwhile time and one we want to do again next year!

 

An Edifice of Eternal Encasing

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

If it seems like every time you drive past Milwaukee’s City Hall it’s encased in scaffolding, it’s because it is. It’s been that way now for years. And years. And years.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

In 2006, the city began an exciting restoration project on the historic building’s exterior and due to some unfortunate developments, the project just never ends. Originally built in 1895, the City Hall is a 393-foot Flemish Renaissance Revival and is trapezoidally nestled between four angled streets.

And scaffolding.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee 2014

To get into the building, you have to walk through a tunnel of scaffolding before it gives way to what someday will once again be a welcoming open-air rotunda.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

And then you step inside. Voilà…here is this fascinating interior of intrigue. All eight floors of it.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

As history goes, seven people jumped to their deaths during the Great Depression. This led to the installation of a protective wire barrier and it remained in place until 1988.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

I like this. It shows both a sense of sustainability and community. I also like the creative display of responses.

Milwaukee City Hall, Doors Open Milwaukee

There is great beauty in repetition and serendipitous alignment!

That’s all for today, folks. Come back tomorrow for the Basilica of St. Josaphat. You’ve just got to see it!

 

When the Flame is Blue

Gas Light Building, Doors Open Milwaukee

When the flame is red, it’s warm weather ahead!
When the flame is gold, watch out for cold!
When the flame is blue, there’s no change in view!
When there’s a flickering flame, expect snow or rain!

Since 1956, downtown Milwaukeeans have only needed to look to the rooftop of the Milwaukee Gas Light Building for their next day’s forecast. See that flame-shaped dome at the top of this magnificent, 20-floor, Art Deo skyscraper? It’s the gift of the Wisconsin Gas Company (owners of the building at the time) to Milwaukee—a color-changing beacon along with a cute rhyme of explanation. It’s iconic treasures such as this that instill a hometown in the hearts of its people.

DoorsOpen2014_Gas_2

After decades of Victorian extremism, imagine how, in 1930 when the Gas Light Building was completed, its simplicity was noticeably distinct. That’s kind of how we felt as we stepped inside for Doors Open Milwaukee. It’s obviously different than the previous buildings we’d toured, but we thought it beautiful nonetheless.

Wisconsin Gas Light Building, Doors Open Milwaukee

Who says Art Deco isn’t ornate? Don’t you just love this jazzy sunburst?

Apparently in the 1960s (oh, those architecturally dreadful ’60s), the gas company “modernized” the building. Along with removing granite ornamentation and other characteristic elements, they did away with the deco bronze sunburst. However in 2002, the Paul Weise Real Estate Corporation purchased the building and restored it to its original luster, including a duplicated sunburst.

Milwaukee Gas Light Building, Doors Open Milwaukee

Once again, design is in the details. Even the street address is done in Art Deco. Such a classy typeface!

Gas Light Weather, Milwaukee, WI

And to close of this lovely autumn day, maybe you want a little Art Deco, weather-predicting, Milwaukee-flame excitement for your iPhone. Here’s a Gas Light app. Don’t worry if you don’t live in Milwaukee, it will forecast weather no matter where you are. Milwaukeeans are really nice like that.

Next stop? Check in tomorrow for Milwaukee City Hall!

Meet Me at the Pfister

The Pfister Hotel, Doors Open Milwaukee

This spring my daughter-in-law, a native of Chile, became a U.S. citizen. Her naturalization ceremony took place in Milwaukee’s majestic Federal Courthouse and afterward we celebrated with lunch at the Pfister Hotel. It was very special. So naturally, since we were in the neighborhood for the Doors Open Milwaukee event, we stepped into the Pfister for a reminiscing visit.

One of many things that made our spring luncheon meaningful was the attentiveness of our waitress. When she heard of my daughter-in-law’s celebration she lavished us with anecdotal history of the hotel. “Meet me at the Pfister,” she said, was a common thing to pass along from one immigrant to another. Because the Pfister is right across the street from the Federal Courthouse, meeting there before and after a naturalization ceremony was the traditional thing to do. And since both buildings date back to the late 1800s, you can bet generations of immigrants have met at the Pfister.

The Pfister Hotel, Doors Open Milwaukee

As you can see, the hotel glories in its Victorian style. It’s described as a Romanesque Revival and everything about it, from the extensive artwork to the potted palms, affirms Victorian.

With one exception…

Pfister Hotel, Doors Open Milwaukee

In 1962, the Pfister was purchased by Ben Marcus. He restored the structure to its original glory, which is awesome. But he also added a 23-story tower of rooms that is, shall we generously say, not-so-awesome. Luxurious as they are on the interior, from the exterior they don’t quite harmonize with the Romanesque Revival. I hate when that happens. But once again in the spirit of generosity, let’s predict that the addition will someday be a historic example of typical 1960’s architecture.

The grey building with copper turrets on the left is the Federal Courthouse Building. The building of yellow brick, known as Cream City Brick, in the center is the original Pfister Hotel. And the lovely (ahem) circular tower behind it is the Pfister Hotel addition.

Milwaukee does have an interesting skyline, doesn’t it? I took this photo from the Gas Light Building. Stay tuned until tomorrow!