Milwaukee’s former Forest Home Library branch is an iconic mid-century modern building. The library, which won multiple design awards for its innovative use of materials, scale, and functionality, is now threatened by demolition by a developer claiming it cannot be rehabilitated for new uses.
Update December 2, 2020
At their November 30 meeting, the Milwaukee Historic Preservation Commission voted unanimously to approve landmark designation for the Forest Home Library. Thank you to all who voiced their support.
Unfortunately, the developer and architect are still pushing very hard against designation. The next step is the December 8th meeting of the Zoning, Neighborhoods, and Development Committee. During this meeting, the developer can appeal the landmark designation based on economic hardship, emotional appeals, and other reasons. A strong show of support for preservation is critical.
The meeting will be held via remote teleconference and public participation is encouraged. Visit HERE and look for the "eComment" link next to December 8 to submit a comment. You can also find details on how to submit emailed comments or register to speak at the hearing by clicking on the day's Agenda. (Note: this information is usually not live until just a few days before the hearing.)
You can also visit the Save Forest Home Library website to sign a statement of support and for more details on how you can help.
Background & Significance
Distinguished Milwaukee architects Von Grossmann, Burroughs and Van Lanen designed the city’s innovative former Forest Home Library in 1966. With humble beginnings, Fritz Von Grossmann founded the firm in 1939, and in 1965 – the year before construction on Forest Home Library came to a close – the American Institute of Architects elevated Von Grossmann to the organization’s highest honor: the College of Fellows. The library itself also received praise and awards upon completion, including an Honor Award from the Wisconsin chapter of the AIA and a Design Excellence Award from the American Institute of Steel Construction, both in 1967. Judges from the AIA wrote that Forest Home Library was “an alive and creative solution to small scale public architecture.” The library is an excellent and intact example of mid-century design principles and the most significant library of its time period in the region. As an early architectural application of exposed Corten (or weathering) steel structural framing (likely the first in the region), Forest Home Library aesthetically nods to Eero Saarinen’s celebrated John Deere Headquarters in Moline, IL.