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Demolition Averted for Former Waukesha Moor Mud Bath Hotel

As the city of Waukesha awaits a decision on their Lake Michigan water diversion plan it's easy to forget that at one time in history Waukesha was the destination spot for people wanting to use the area's springwater.

Historic buildings still stand from that time and one may have just been saved from demolition.

The building originally opened 1911 as the Waukesha Moor Mud Bath Hotel. In the 1970s the space was sold to Waukesha County which recently has pushed to have it demolished.

Others, however, are pushing back against what they would call a historic loss.

Marilyn Hagerstrand has a collection of postcards from the Moor Bath Resort. She thought about the history a lot while working in the building for the county.

Gone are the tubs and mud heating areas that would bring the goop to hot tub temperatures.

What is left is the building and the stories behind it.

"Well if you had different diseases: arthritis, rheumatism, gout - a lot of those types of things - people would come here and get the warm mud put on them," Hagerstrand, who's also a board member of the Waukesha Preservation Alliance, said.

"I know by the late 20s they had like 200 visitors a day. I've even heard Al Capone came here as a guest," Hagerstrand said.

"The building is empty," Mary Emery, President of the Waukesha Preservation Alliance, said. 

"In 2013, Waukesha county moved into their new health and human services building which is over there," Emery said - motioning to a newer building a hundred yards away.

The Waukesha Landmarks Commission recently rejected a petition from the county which asked to demolish the building. It's unclear what future options might be for the building but Emery said its destruction would have been uneconomical.

"When you look at $3.6 million to tear down this property and put in 70 parking spaces which will be in the dormitory district which is non-historic - this will be green space - when you're looking at that price tag that translates to $51,000 per parking space," Emery said.

Hagerstrand says she's aware of senior apartment developers interested in the space. But right now she's just just pleased the place she has read so much about isn't being torn down.

The county does has the option to appeal the landmarks commission decision to city administration. No details have been shared on that plan so far.

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