In an article reprinted from the summer 2005 issue of Wisconsin Academy Review, writer and photographer Paul G. Hayes examines National Soldiers Home in Milwaukee, a place he describes as "a ghostly, beautiful, enticing presence." Hayes is a Fellow of the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.
The veterans' hospital and respite center dates back to the Civil War and includes the signature building, the main domiciliary (1869); a theater (1881); a chapel (1889); and other structures. Veterans who recuperated there observed a military-like regimen, with structured days and job duties. Entertainment took place in Ward Memorial Theater, which remained active for 80 years. Currently, a nonprofit group called Soldiers Home Foundation, Inc., is working ensure the preservation of this historic district that is a powerful reminder of the sacrifices of America's veterans.
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Wisconsin Academy Review is published quarterly by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters, an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1870. The Wisconsin Academy celebrates the state's thought and culture. It is also one of seven members of the Cultural Coalition of Wisconsin, the group that sponsors PortalWisconsin.org. For Wisconsin Academy membership information, click here.