How Historic Architecture Brands Your Business

historic preservation, coffeeshop, MIlwaukee

In recognition of the final day of Historic Preservation Month, I spent the day working at Alterra Coffee at the Lake in Milwaukee. It’s a great coffee shop in the most interesting of old buildings.

Located on Lincoln Memorial Drive, right across from the McKinley Marina, the building used to be the Milwaukee River Flushing Station. According to this document from 1992, it was built in 1888 for the purpose of daily flushing the Milwaukee River with fresh water from Lake Michigan. In 2002, Alterra reopened it as a cafe serving signature coffee, bakery, soups and sandwiches.

coffee shop in historic building

I love that Alterra is repurposing an old building. This OnMilwaukee article describes the environmentally-friendly features that compliment the coffee shop, both inside and out, and how Alterra’s owners strive to create a public gathering place while being true to the building’s historical integrity.

Alterra on the Lake preserves historic architecture

These owners are some smart guys. They’re successfully using historic architecture to brand themselves (they have 11 cafes throughout Milwaukee and surrounding areas). They’re known for their use of recycled building materials and they participate in the WE Energies Energy for Tomorrow program.

It’s all part of successfully creating a memorable image. Alterra’s obviously has created quite an image—every time I come here, the place is packed.


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