We think the cover image to be particularly powerful. It is an image of Scott Alwin of Fort Atkinson with his UH-1 “Huey” helicopter. Alwin served five tours in Vietnam between 1967 and 1972, and is said to have logged more hours of flying time than any other American during the war, and was awarded an Army record of 108 Air Medals.
There are also three articles in the issue that address historic preservation. The first, titled “Vanishing Landmarks: Barn Preservation,” is an excerpt from Jerry Apps’ book, Barns. In it Jerry, professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, addresses the rapidity with which Wisconsin’s old barns are disappearing from the landscape, how some old barns are repurposed, and offers insights into barn preservation. There is also a sidebar that talks about the broader efforts to preserve old barns.
The second preservation piece, titled “Strong as Steel: Sturgeon Bay’s Michigan Street Bridge,” was written by UW-Green Bay senior Communication major Erika Bonnell. It looks at the nearly $21 million rehabilitation project of the only surviving Scherzer-type, double-leaf, rolling lift bascule bridge in Wisconsin, and the debates that took place over deciding whether the bridge should remain or not. Erika does an excellent job of showing the rationales of those involved and their positions, as well as making sense out of the different machinations the debate went through. A more in depth look at this article can be found here the Voyageur website.
The third preservation based article was written by Mark Steuer, president of the Brown County Historical Society, looks at two other recent preservation efforts in Northeast Wisconsin – one a success story and one a not-so-successful story. The first part of the article covers the restoration of the Oshkosh Grand Opera House. After a noteworthy nine decades of providing Oshkosh and the surrounding area with an abundance of quality cultural and popular entertainment, the house’s importance dwindled as motion pictures began to supplant live performances. The structure was converted to a movie theater in 1948, and in 1974 the structure was placed on the National Register of Historic Places – even though discussions on razing the building had begun. Five years later the Grand Opera House Restoration Committee began its push for a referendum for the city to take over the operation and restoration activities. On November 4, 1980 the referendum passed by a 2:1 margin, and after four years of work the Grand Opera House was reborn in 1986. However in February 2009 the need for emergency repairs was discovered and the theater was once again shut down. Between 2009 and 2010 the Opera house underwent a $2 million restoration, and reopened in September of 2010. It was the wealthy of Oshkosh that spearheaded the Opera House’s original construction in the 19th century, but it was a grass roots effort that brought about its restoration in the 21st century.
The second part of the article explores the efforts to preserve the old Chancery in Allouez, and how the Catholic Diocese ultimately thwarted those efforts. In this case a grassroots movement wasn’t able to stop the wrecking ball. Internet blogs, vigils, an active website, phone calls, fundraisers, television stories, newspaper articles and an online petition (even signed by Bret Favre) weren’t able to stop the Diocese from destroying the building, and on September 1, 2010, the 99-year old structure was razed. However out of the dust of destruction, the Save The Chancery Coalition, which was born in the efforts to save the building, evolved into today’s Brown County Trust for Historic Preservation, which works to prevent future destruction of historic and significant structures.
Kerry Trask, professor emeritus of history at the UW-Manitowoc, gave us an article titled “Remembering the Civil War,” which is made up of material from his excellent book, Fire Within: A Civil War Narrative from Wisconsin. Through an exploration of the experiences of the men of Manitowoc who served in the Civil War, Trask looks not only at their experiences, but also at how the true experiences of the war were brought back to the people of Manitowoc, and how the war has been remembered and presented through history.
We wrap up this issue with excerpts from the book, Dreamers and Doers: Women of Northeast Wisconsin. The book was adopted as a women's history project in 1990 by the Green Bay Area Branch of the American Association of University Women (AAUW). The intent of the project was to celebrate the lives of women of historical and contemporary significance by adding their life stories to the written record. The article presents eight abridged profiles from the book, including Green Bay’s Mary Cotton and Rosamond Brown Follett, Appleton’s Edna Ferber and Carrie Emily Morgan, Two Rivers’ Diantha Jane Smith Hamilton, Baileys Harbor’s Emma Toft, Oneida’s Nancy Cornelius Skenadore, and Suamico’s Lou Matthews Bedore. We’re sure that reading these brief profiles will incite you to read the entire book.
A great deal of effort goes into writing the articles that appear in Voyageur, and we hope you enjoy them.