What’s It Worth?: Harley-Davidson Museum Worth $12 Million

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Bike nighttime  astatine  the Harley-Davidson Museum. Photo taken July 15th, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

Bike nighttime astatine the Harley-Davidson Museum. Photo taken July 15th, 2021 by Jeramey Jannene.

Schlitz brew whitethorn person made Milwaukee famous, but the Cream City’s astir celebrated and wide disposable merchandise is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. The steadfast has retailers successful 98 countries spanning the globe. So beardown is the marque loyalty that the H-D logo is often requested by customers astatine tattoo parlors. The firm’s office remains astatine 3700 W. Juneau Ave., wherever the archetypal mill was built successful the backmost gait of the location of William C. Davidson (1846-1923). His sons Walter Davidson, Sr. (1876-1942), William A. Davidson (1870-1937) and Arthur Davidson (1881-1950) founded the steadfast successful 1903 with their neighbor, technologist William S. Harley (1880-1943). Since 1915 the institution has acceptable speech 1 of each exemplary made, storing the machines on with an unthinkable magnitude of firm memorabilia successful its warehouses and different facilities.  The postulation of motorcycles includes the earliest known H-D vehicle, Serial Number One.

Such a burgeoning assemblage begged to beryllium placed successful a location of its own, truthful during the 1990s the steadfast hired Dr. Martin Jack Rosenblum (1946-2014), a UWM prof and writer who styled himself arsenic The Holy Ranger, a quality appealing to the motorcycle crowd, becoming a cult fig successful his ain right. According to his obituary:

Marty was a diehard Harley enthusiast and portion moving for Harley-Davidson, helium was liable for organizing the archives, motorcycles, and materials that went backmost to the opening of the Motor Company. His efforts played a large relation successful the instauration of the existent Harley-Davidson Museum.

But wherever to find the museum? The institution wanted a high-visibility location, truthful the office was retired of the running. There were plans to spot it astatine Schlitz Park, the tract of the erstwhile brewery, but they fell through. But successful the aboriginal 2000s, a location was recovered connected 15 acres of onshore astatine the eastbound extremity of the Menomonee River Valley, surrounded by canals connected 3 sides, and contaminated by implicit a period of dense concern uses.

A parcel was assembled connected onshore utilized by the Milwaukee Department of Public Works, Morton Salt Company and Lakeshore Sand Company astatine 125 N. 6th St. The immense spot was bisected by W. Canal St., and located betwixt the 2 spans of the cable-stay bascule bridges of the caller 6th St. Viaduct, a melodramatic operation that opened to postulation successful 2002. It replaced a 1908 viaduct that spanned the full valley, with a tiny spur starring below. When engineers from the authorities projected a akin design, Mayor John Norquist pushed alternatively for the existent one, which allowed for improvement of the portion to accelerate with crushed level entree to W. Canal St.

On June 1st, 2006, a groundbreaking ceremonial was held, with a distinctly H-D touch. Eschewing the accepted aureate shovels, the ungraded was breached by ungraded biker Scott Parker, riding a Hog. Attendees received a tiny vial of the earth, with a tag attached, commemorating the event. The depository opened to the nationalist connected July 12th, 2008, and present ranks arsenic 1 of the city’s apical tourer attractions and lawsuit venues. At the time, the metropolis assessor calculated the property’s worth astatine $1,899,100 for the onshore and $9,000,900 for the improvements, for a full valuation of $10,900,000. Today the onshore is valued astatine the aforesaid amount, portion the improvements are assessed astatine $10,120,600 for a full of $12,019,700.

It volition soon beryllium clip for the assessor to wage different sojourn to the property, arsenic a 2nd groundbreaking was held connected Thursday, July 15th, arsenic Jeramey Jannene noted successful his story for Urban Milwaukee. Once again, a motorcycle replaced the aureate shovels. The caller 8,200-square-foot “Garage,” is to beryllium an lawsuit installation and regenerate a seasonal structure connected the grounds, and volition surely summation the worth of the property.

The Site successful History

“Milwaukee” is sometimes translated from the Native American “Milioke” arsenic “Gathering Place by the Water.” The Menomonee River flowed lazily to its confluence with the Milwaukee and Kinnickinnic rivers, rimmed by autochthonal plants and chaotic game, with abundant marshes of chaotic atom (“Menomin”) to supply grain. The Potawatomi people occupied the onshore by the 1700s. Other tribes to stitchery present astatine assorted times included the Ojibwa, Fox, Menominee, Ottawa, Sauk  and Winnebago. They were displaced by achromatic settlers successful 1835. By 1850 the Milwaukee and Mississippi Railroad ran from the vale 5 miles westbound to Wauwatosa, yet reaching the Big Muddy astatine Prairie du Chien successful 1857.

Byron Kilbourn, the laminitis of the railroad, intended it to bring the bounty of Wisconsin’s farms and forests to Milwaukee’s port. As aboriginal arsenic 1861, Milwaukee’s larboard led the satellite successful the shipment of wheat, exporting arsenic overmuch successful a time as Edward D. Holton did successful a year, erstwhile helium sent the archetypal load by vessel successful 1842. As postulation grew, larboard improvements were called for, and by 1869 the vale level was raised 21 feet, portion the bluffs to the northbound were lowered arsenic overmuch arsenic 60 feet. The stream was channelized, and the tract for the Harley Museum was for a play of clip an island, with the since-filled-in Holton’s Canal to its west, on with the extant North and South Menomonee canals. Bagnall’s Slip, besides since filled in, ran east-west connected the mediate of the site, present the mediate of the museum.

For implicit a century, the four-mile agelong and half-mile wide vale became the polluted bosom of “The Machine Shop of the World,” with hundreds of factories employing thousands of residents successful a panoply of 19th period concern jobs.

Here, astatine the northeast country of the valley, wherever we present find the museum, were located a fig of enterprises emblematic of the time. One of them has a household transportation to its existent use.

J. S. Davidson’s “Shoddy Mill”

The Sanborn Atlas of 1894 shows a fig of dense concern uses connected the site. J. Gross & Sons and the Wisconsin Fuel Co. stored mountains of ember connected the site, portion the Milwaukee Lumber Company, Steinman Lumber Co. and Moe and Bentley did the aforesaid with the tremendous measurement of logs transported from the interior of the state. J. Rademacher did them 1 better, dealing successful ember and wood. A. C. Beck planed the lumber astatine its mill, portion Mueller & Sons converted scraps into boxes, with the full 3rd level of its mill devoted to the manufacture of cigar boxes.

The map besides mentions the “Shoddy Mill” of J. S. Davidson. This was not to disparage the spot of Mr. Davidson, but to picture it for occurrence security purposes. A “Shoddy Mill” is utilized to person discarded cloth scraps into an inferior benignant of cloth, often utilized to worldly mattresses. Many of this city’s concern recycling firms began with an aboriginal household subordinate buying rags and transporting them to the mill. Upon specified humble beginnings are large fortunes made.

The mill’s owner, John S. Davidson (1849-1907) was the younger member of William C. Davidson, whose 3 sons and William Harley were to recovered the motorcycle institution successful 1903.

By 1910 we find a caller viaduct rising 22 feet supra the site, with a U-shaped attack starring to the docks of the Western Line and Cement Co., organized by Orren Robertson, the son-in-law of Edward D. Holton, whose canal was close astir the country from the cement warehouse. Bentley and Company’s lumber piles averaged 12-feet to 15-feet high. Davidson’s shoddy mill was gone, with the adjacent Gross ember piles expanding to that site, astatine much than doubly the tallness of their woody counterparts.

As the decades rolled on, the full vale fell into a wide disuse, with lone a fewer firms remaining by midcentury. These tended to beryllium alternatively disagreeable affairs similar stockyards, slaughterhouses, and the Milwaukee Tallow Company, whose malodorous emanations were acquainted to adjacent residents and County Stadium visitors connected humid summertime nights, and overmuch remarked upon. The Stockyard Bar and Feedlot Restaurant lasted until the precocious 1980’s, located close successful the mediate of the messiness and fashionable with those who utilized knives astatine work, and occasionally for mischief, arsenic a scarred bartender who worked astatine the constitution made abundantly clear.

The Site Today

By 1999 the Menomonee Valley Partners was incorporated to assistance redevelop the area, including the Harley site, raised yet different 5 feet to incorporate the contaminated ungraded beneath. The sheds of the metropolis were torn down, arsenic the factories preceding it had been decades before. HGA designed the brick-clad structure, which was erstwhile again surrounded by autochthonal plants and trails. The Menomonee Valley Partners besides is present spearheading the reclamation of the stagnant and polluted Burnham Canal to the south. The vale has besides drawn a fig of modern factories, sandwiched betwixt American Family Field, the Potawatomi Casino and Hotel and the Harley-Davidson Museum — 3 of the area’s main attractions, which person returned the vale to its historical relation arsenic the “Gathering Place by the Water.”

The Bottom Line

  • Name of Property: Harley-Davidson Museum
  • Address: 400 W. Canal St. Milwaukee. Also known arsenic 126 N. 6th St.
  • Assessed Valuation 2020: The 661,807-square-foot (15.93 acre) batch is assessed astatine $1,899,100 ($2.87/s.f.) and the 110,250 quadrate ft improvements are valued astatine $10,120,600 for a full assessed valuation of $12,019,700. (In 2008 the onshore was assessed astatine the aforesaid amount, portion the improvements were valued astatine $9,000,900 for a full of $10,900,000.)
  • Taxes: 2020 Tax Bill $319,187.51. Payments existent connected the installment plan.
  • Owner: HD MILW, LLC
  • Type: Commercial
  • Architect: HGA successful collaboration with Pentagram Architects. Harley-Davidson Museum – HGA
  • Year Built: 2007
  • Neighborhood: Menomonee River Valley
  • Subdivision: Walkers Point
  • Aldermanic District: 12th, Jose G. Perez
  • Walk Score: 61 retired of 100 “Somewhat Walkable” Some errands tin beryllium accomplished connected foot. Score would leap if pedestrian transportation implicit canal to eastbound were constructed. City average: 63 retired of 100
  • Transit Score: 69 retired of 100 “Good Transit” Many adjacent nationalist proscription options. City average: 48 retired of 100
  • Bike Score: 78 retired of 100; “Very Bikeable.” Biking is convenient for astir trips. Plus, it is level terrain, erstwhile you transverse the 6th St. Viaduct. City average: 59 retired of 100

Photos from Garage Groundbreaking

Harley-Davidson Museum

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