Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cathedral Square may get historic makeover

Mary Louise Schumacher’s Art City column in Sunday's Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a proposal for a replica of Milwaukee's original 1836 courthouse at what long was Courthouse Square.
The idea is to restore the city’s first public space, Milwaukee’s unrivaled heart for generations...

The current courthouse is twelve blocks west, in what is, or was, called the Civic Center. It's location is one factor in Milwaukee not now having an unrivaled heart.

The "square" is on a rectangular block, now a park called "Cathedral Square". The plan would create a literal square of grass and walkways to the south of the courthouse replica, and plant trees around it on the northern balance of the block. The portico of the new structure would be extended for staging the musical performance series now held in the park.

One purpose of the trees proposed for the northern part of the block is "setting the square apart from Kilbourn Ave." In architectural criticism, one person's "setting apart" can be another's "turning its back". While the grove of trees makes sense in creating the square, no mention is made of how this fits with a past vision for Kilbourn Avenue. It was long ago widened into a broad boulevard with various civic and cultural buildings were built along it, starting a few blocks west of the old square.

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