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Award for Excellence In Historic Preservation

ACHP/HUD Secretary's Award For Excellence In Historic Preservation

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recognizes developers, organizations and agencies for their success in advancing the goals of historic preservation while providing affordable housing and/or expanded economic opportunities for low-and moderate-income families and individuals.

HUD/ National Trust for Historic Preservation Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation

Till 2015 the HUD Secretary’s award for Excellence in Historic Preservation was presented in partnership with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Milwaukee Soldiers Home

The 2021 ACHP/HUD Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Historic Preservation was presented in a virtual ceremony on December 15, 2021, to the Milwaukee Soldiers Home in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, which repurposed historic buildings into veterans’ housing.


After the Civil War, Congress chartered a network of Homes for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. Established in 1867, the Milwaukee Soldiers Home is the most intact Home remaining in the country and the only one with the majority of its surrounding recuperative village remaining. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2005, became a National Historic Landmark in 2011, and was recognized as a National Treasure in 2012. The Victorian Gothic Old Main building had been vacant and deteriorating for 20 years and had a substantial hole in its roof when preservation efforts began in 2010. To address the challenge, the development team—led by the Alexander Company and the Housing Authority of Milwaukee—utilized a long term Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) to transform the property into housing for homeless veterans. The preservation team worked hard to preserve the historic elements of the Milwaukee Soldiers Home. Stone, brick, tin ceiling and wall tiles, and historic doors and windows were carefully repaired and restored. Slate was sourced from a Vermont quarry to match the original slate roof, and wood and terrazzo floors were repaired and refinished.

In March 2021, Old Main and five other historic buildings—part of the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center—re-opened in service to veterans, with 101 units of housing as well as supportive services for veterans and their families at risk of homelessness. Units range from Single Room Occupancy to four-bedroom units, with a separate and secure wing for women. Amenities include community spaces, a business center, fitness areas, a history room, workforce training, offices for management and counseling, and a wide array of resident supportive services. Project-based HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (“VASH”) ensures that monthly rents are no more than 30% of a tenant’s monthly adjusted gross income and allows the rental income to cover the cost of operating expenses.

Under the leadership of real estate developer The Alexander Company, many partners contributed to save the Soldiers Home. The VA was involved in all aspects of the project and continues to provide supportive services; the Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee is a co-lessee and operator; the National Equity Fund is a Federal Tax Credit Investor Member; HUD provides HUD-VASH vouchers; and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority provided many financing options. In addition to these partners, over 650 individuals and organizations donated to the project through a fundraising campaign.