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Sunday Morning Spotlight: Milwaukee City Hall Letters

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(MILWAUKEE) - Through photos, documents and educational events, the Milwaukee County Historical Society allows visitors to reconnect with the heritage of Milwaukee. Like its city hall neighbor a block away, the building itself is a historic landmark. And among its thousands of artifacts are 20th century symbols of this city's welcoming culture.

The City Hall Letters are a collection of wooden bold-faced letters dotted with light bulbs. Their not uncommon to see on modern buildings but the collection from Milwaukee dates back to the earliest days of electricity.

Longtime residents of the city will recognize their distinct look. The illuminated messages were used on Milwaukee City Hall for decades all the way up the mid-1980s when Mayor John Norquist did away with them citing maintenance costs. The city gave the letters to the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design where they went into storage and became mostly forgotten.

In 2012, MIAD chose to give the letters to the Milwaukee County Historical Society. MCHS now has over one hundred of the original letters, some of which will be restored and made operational. Currently, the letters “M-K-E” are restored and hang in the main atrium at the Historical Society.

On CBS 58 Sunday Morning, Mike Strehlow put the City Hall Letters in the Sunday Morning Spotlight.

Click here to learn more about the Milwaukee County Historical Society’s effort to preserve the City Hall Letters.

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