September 20 & 21 was the weekend of Doors Open Milwaukee, when you can go behind the scenes and explore buildings and spaces that are usually off-limits to the public. It’s a really cool event, and I really enjoyed indulging my curiosity when I went on the 21st.

Solomon Juneau’s Cabin

Solomon Juneau is one of my favorite local historical figures. (I named my little gray kitten Josette, after his wife, Josette Juneau.) He was a fur trader, who established a post in what is now the center of downtown Milwaukee. He and Josette more or less started white settlement in the area.

This cabin is actually a replica of the original, but has a kind of cool history of its own. I liked peeking inside, seeing the huge fireplace that dominated the single room cabin, and wondering how many kids you could raise in such a cabin. (Solomon and Josette had 17!)

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The Plaza Hotel

We peeked into a couple of rooms that were on display at this lower-east-side hotel & apartment building, and discovered the most delightful little patio area. It’s a shame they’re not open for cocktails at night; I’d love to sip a fancy gin drink back here with the lights on in summer.

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US Bank Building

This is the tallest building in Milwaukee, and they have an observation deck on the top floor. It’s a great place to see Milwaukee from above. Everything looks so much closer together from up here!

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City Hall building

This is a crazy-shaped building, with this strange, stretched-out hexagonal shape inside. I’ve seen lots of pictures of this before, but have never actually been inside. I explored the mayor’s office, and a bunch of other cool rooms.

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View from the top down.

Riverside Theater

This theater has been around for a very long time; they still have their original theater organ from the days of silent films. For Doors Open, they had a hilarious film showing, with a talented organist playing along to recreate the experience. After the end of the film, we got to peek around and see some of the pipes.

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It’s blurry, but the picture was too cool not to post.

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A friend of my husband also took the two of us up to the lighting booth, which felt very top-secret and sneaky.

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St. Joan of Arc Chapel

The last stop on my tour was the St. Joan of Arc chapel, on the Marquette campus. This is, without a doubt, the oldest building I’ve ever been in, by far. It was originally constructed in France in the late 14th or early 15th century, and was recently (well, in the last 100 years) moved to the US. So cool being inside this old building. I didn’t take a picture of it, but there is a doorway that’s lined by big stones – when they reconstructed the chapel here, they had to put in some new stones and make it taller – people are just that much taller now than they were then. That is SO OLD.

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Very cool event. I can’t wait to make a list of the things I want to see next year.