Lake Park Summer Stage
Each summer since 1997, Lake Park Friends has been presenting musical concerts for all to enjoy. The recent construction of The Lake Park Summer Stage was made possible by a generous donor gift and by Lake Park Friends. The timberframe superstructure, concrete stage and landscaping were built in the same location as the previous plywood stage, allowing visibility of the natural backdrop of the Locust Ravine.
Playground Picnic Spot
Lake Park Friends paid for the installation of three permanent picnic tables in a spot near the new playground, which was built in summer of 2012 by Milwaukee County Parks. A stone walkway, shrubs, climbing rocks and landscaping were added to enhance the “hand monument”, which was a tribute to donors from the previous 1995 playground.
Grand Staircase and Newberry Blvd. Entrance Flowerbeds
In 2010, landscape plans to revive the Staircase beds were drafted by Dennis Buettner, of Buettner & Associates. The plans called for the use of some existing plants and incorporating more native plants and shrubs that could withstand dry conditions. With the cooperation of Milwaukee County Parks Department, and with funds from the Bartolotta Restaurant Lease, the staircase was replanted, weeded and watered in 2012.
Also in 2012, the flowerbeds at the entrance to the park at Newberry Blvd. were planted with colorful annuals, thanks to a generous gift from a donor, and an automatic sprinkler system was installed using funds from the Bartolotta Restaurant lease.
Locust Street Ravine Footbridges
Four new footbridges were built along the Locust Street Ravine Trail to replace bridges that had been damaged during flooding. A challenge gift and individual donations to a year end appeal, and money from the LPF general fund, helped to pay for these bridges that make it safer and easier to travel the ravine trail.
The goal of the Waterfall Ravine Restoration Project was to restore the original features of the Ravine, which include the access trail, bridges, piping, rock work, stream channel, storm inlet, vegetation, water sources and waterfall. An overlook allows visitors a birds-eye view of the waterfall. A contemporary environmental enhancement includes a rain garden at the lowest level to filter silt and sediments out of the storm water prior to flowing into Lake Michigan.
Restoration of the General Erastus B. Wolcott Monument
Dr. Erastus B. Wolcott was Surgeon General of Wisconsin during the Civil War years and made surgical history when, in 1861, he was the first physician to remove a diseased kidney. The equestrian statue, by sculptor Francis Herman Packer, was dedicated on June 12, 1920. It was financed by the estate of Wolcott’s widow, Dr. Laura Ross Wolcott, one of the earliest woman physicians in the country. The statue has been an important feature and favorite photographer’s subject for park patrons for over 85 years.
Over the years, the monument, it’s benches and patio showed the wear and tear of Milwaukee’s outdoor environment. Lake Park Friends raised more than $100,000 to restore the illustrious monument. Restoration by renown conservator, Andrzej Dajnowski, was completed in 2007 and a dedication ceremony was held in Spring 2008.
In 2013 and in 2019, the monument was washed and waxed to protect the restoration work that had been done previously and landscape enhancements were made in 2014. In 2023, lead was removed from the stone base’s joints and replaced. The Milwaukee Arts Board has awarded funds for these improvements and has been a supporting partner in the effort to maintain the monument.
Ice Skating Rink
Ongoing since 1994
Each year, Lake Park Friends raises funds to hire Milwaukee County Parks to build and maintain the land rink. Although the success of the rink is dependent on the weather, it has become a winter neighborhood staple. And, an annual ice skating party, complete with a campfire and s’mores, is held every skating season.
Olmsted Poet’s Walk Park Benches
2004 to 2014
Many “Central Park Style” benches have been installed throughout the park as a result of a collaboration between generous donors and Lake Park Friends. Each bench has a plaque recognizing the donor and a short excerpt from a nature-related poem.
Wahl Avenue Bluff Restoration
Ongoing since 2008
In spring of 2003, members of a Natural Areas Restoration Committee began working with Wahl Avenue residents and the Parks Dept. to develop plans to trim overgrown vegetation near their residences, to stabilize the top and bottom halves of the bluff and to minimize erosion potential. Lake Park Friends helped to hold and distribute the funds for this project.
North Point Lighthouse
Since 1998, LPF has been actively involved in preservation and restoration efforts for the North Point Lighthouse and Keeper’s Quarters. LPF board members on the Lighthouse steering committee helped with: writing the business plan, securing an option to lease the facility, researching history, conducting tours, writing grant applications, developing promotional materials, organizing a fundraiser, developing a campaign cabinet, organizing neighbor meetings & developing a new board and organizational structure for North Point Lighthouse Friends, Inc.
In 2002, North Point Lighthouse Friends incorporated and received 501c3 tax status. In financial support of the project, in 2002 Lake Park Friends contributed $25,000 of a $50,000 grant LPF received from the Schoenleber Foundation. Then, a major grant from the Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation was approved for the lighthouse project. After construction, the lighthouse was opened to visitors in the Fall of 2007.
Bluffs and Ravines
In 2001, a Natural Areas Restoration Committee was established to work with County Parks Dept. staff to develop a restoration plan for the bluffs and ravines of Lake Park. Research has been done on the Frederick Law Olmsted vision. Historic photos, planting plans, maps, correspondence, and old park annual reports have been collected and studied.
In 2002, LPF engaged naturalist Richard Barloga to inventory vegetation in the ravines and on the park bluffs. Flowers, grasses, sedges, shrubs, and trees were inventoried, and, in some cases, mapped.
In 2006, with the help of LPF donations, a matching stewardship grant, a grant from the Great Lakes Basin Program, and the Milwaukee County Parks Trails and Natural Areas Crew, the Locust Street Ravine had a major transformation. Rustic bridges were built, walkways were regraded and lined with wood chips, logs and boulders. Stone drains and check dams were added to the stream. Hill erosion was slowed by planting native plants, shrubs and wildflowers and by removing invasive Norway maples.
Ongoing since 1996
Weed Outs of wildflower areas in park ravines and bluffs have been held every spring since 1996. Fall Weed-Outs to remove invasive Buckthorn have been conducted by volunteers every year since 2001.
LPF has also successfully advocated for the remodel and retention of the Pavilion Community Room for public use (now named the Marcia Coles Community Room).
As a Lake Park “support group”, we cooperate with or co-sponsor most events and activities with the Milwaukee County Parks Dept. All of these events are free and open to the public.
As you can see, there is no shortage of good work to do to preserve and enhance this beautiful park of ours!