This month’s ‘Spot a Clock’ is Building 1, also known as the Headquarters Building, located in the National Soldiers Home Historic District in Milwaukee. Caring for veterans returning from war was one of several issues the country faced in the aftermath of the Civil War. In 1865, Congress and President Lincoln authorized the creation of the National Asylum for Disabled Volunteer Solders. The Milwaukee facility represents the Northwestern Branch, one of the three original branches. Construction began in 1867, with the majority of the buildings in the historic district being constructed by 1895. Among these is Building 2, the “Main Building”, often referred to as Old Main.
A 1941 Building Schedule lists 100 buildings on the 150-acre property, which is also the home of Wood National Cemetery. Among the first buildings constructed was Building 1, completed in 1896. This two-story Renaissance Revival building served as the headquarters for the complex until 1942, and was constructed at a cost of just under $10,000. Early photos show that the cupola atop the building had louvers on each side, but later photos depict a clock on the west side of the cupola.
The Seth Thomas factory records available on the NAWCC website indicate that the clock movement was a No. 6 time tower clock movement, purchased in June 1901 by the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Discussions with facility staff indicate that the movement was replaced with an electric movement at an unknown date. Portions of the original movement are still present. In addition to its ongoing mission of caring for veterans, the complex is on the National Register of Historic Places. A walking tour is available through a downloadable podcast available for smartphones (search ‘Milwaukee’s Soldiers Home’ on your app store).