Spotlight on the Good Works of the RCM Community Trust: Update on the Milwaukee County War Memorial Center’s Operation Renew

The Milwaukee County War Memorial Center has been the home of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee since its opening in 1957. In 2014, RCM was proud to take part in a critical renovation of the Center through the lead gift of $100,000 from the RCM Community Trust for “Operation Renew,” a major restoration project supported by Milwaukee County.


The renovation of Veterans Courtyard was the first phase of the project. This phase included new concrete floors, drains, flag poles, benches, a granite “Ring of Honor” and many more restorations and additions.


The next phase of the project will begin this fall to refurbish the Birdcage stairway. The restoration of the Birdcage’s is essential to keeping Eero Saarinen’s unique design alive. This $1,015,000 project has an estimated completion date of May 2017. There will be no access to Memorial Hall through this staircase on Tuesday’s until the project is complete. The main elevator and alternative staircases will be available during this period.


Planning is underway for the renovation of Memorial Hall. Including Rotary’s weekly programs, there are over 900 events held at the War Memorial Center each year. The War Memorial Center has focused on funding to initiate plans for educational programming. It now offers school tours, self-guided mobile tours, Veterans Story Project, interactive learning stations and many memorials and exhibits throughout the building.


The War Memorial Center also received a grant from the Fund for Lake Michigan to create a master plan for the lakeshore north of the building. With this grant, the War Memorial Center is planning for dramatic redesign of the parking lot to begin in 2017. Other plans are in the works to make the area more environmental friendly.


Over the next several years as you attend Rotary, you will see the gradual restoration inside and outside the War Memorial Center as it is a gracious, dignified place for reflection, celebration and learning that makes Milwaukee a Cultural Center for Patriotism.