How did Schlitz Audubon Nature Center come to be?
Prior to becoming a nature center, the 185 acres that we know as Schlitz Audubon Nature Center has a long and storied history. Originally a forested area, this property was clear cut in the 1800’s to provide lumber and firewood for Milwaukee. The Uihlein family purchased this property in 1885 and deeded the land to the Schlitz Brewery. It was called “Nine Mile Farm,” as it is nine miles from the downtown brewery, and became the pasture where brewery delivery horses went to recuperate from days spent pulling carriages packed with beer kegs.
Following Prohibition, and with the widespread use of automobiles becoming commonplace, the company no longer needed horses or a place for them to rest. For decades, the property remained in possession of the Schlitz Brewery and became a recreational area for Schlitz employees, scouting groups, sporting groups, and the Uihlein family.
In the early 1960’s, the company considered selling the property. Suggested options included condominiums, a mens-only golf course, and becoming an addition to Doctor’s Park. But Dorothy Vallier, along with several passionate Bayside citizens, advocated for the property to become a center for environmental education. After years of consideration, in 1971 the property, along with an operations endowment, was donated to the National Audubon Society. In 1974 Schlitz Audubon Nature Center opened to the public five days a week.
Today, Schlitz Audubon Nature Center is open 362 days a year and provides environmental education for all ages, including a Nature Preschool, Summer Camps, year-round school field trips and outreach programs, homeschool programs, adult environmental education, and a Raptor Program. Center staff is continually working to conserve and restore this land as a resilient and biotically diverse landscape for everyone in the greater Milwaukee community to explore. Schlitz Audubon is an independent partner of the National Audubon Society.