'Remembering the past:' Former alderman, Milwaukee historian team up to restore retired Goldmann's sign

MILWAUKEE -- One man's trash can be another man's treasure -- and that's why two Milwaukee men have gone through great lengths over the years to bring an iconic symbol back to Milwaukee. They're now looking for help to finish up the process.

Adam Levin

Broken and rusted, a now-defunct sign was one a bright spot on Milwaukee's south side.

"Remembering the past is important," said Adam Levin.

Levin spearheaded a project to have the beloved Goldmann's Department Store sign have a bright future once again.

"It's memorabilia that people appreciate," said Levin.

The sign was taken down in 2007 after the business -- which was open for more than a century -- closed. The 800 pound sign was scrapped and later sold. Former Alderman Jim Witkowiak made a three-day trek to North Dakota to retrieve it.

Goldmann's sign

Jim Witkowiak

"Mitchell Street and Goldmann's is in my heart," said Witkowiak. "It just brought back great memories. I had plenty of meals at the lunch counter there."

Recalling his childhood trips inspired Witkowiak to refurbish the sign.

"The first thing we would do is take all of the porcelain panels off, and basically strip the paint off and buff the sign," said Witkowiak. "Once the panels are off, we will look at the structural integrity of the skeleton inside the sign.

A GoFundMe page was created to help with the expected cost of about $20,000.

Goldmann's sign

Goldmann's sign

"If people are passionate about this and they want to contribute, that's great," said Levin.

The pair is hoping the vintage sign could make a comeback on Mitchell Street, and say they already have permission to put it in a parking lot owned by Witkowiak.

"We went to see Historic Preservation, and they deemed it a piece of art," said Witkowiak. "It will be in the front part of the parking lot on Mitchell, visible, with a plaque at the base."

The pair are helping redevelop a sign of the times. If enough money is not raised, the sign may be given to a museum out of state. To view the GoFundMe page, click HERE. To learn more about Old Milwaukee -- a Facebook group dedicated to preserving memories of Milwaukee -- click HERE.

Goldmann's sign

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