This week I had the opportunity to interview Jessica Breitbach, an architect at Quorum Architects who has been living in Milwaukee and the Martin Drive Neighborhood for four years. When Jessica was moving to Milwaukee, a friend suggested she check out the Martin Drive Neighborhood and after doing so, she said she “kinda fell in love.”
In school, Jessica studied historic preservation and explained history was a big part of why she chose to live in the Neighborhood. Living right on Martin Drive, she enjoys the old apartment buildings and said the historic neighborhood is “where I belong.”
Pictured above: Jessica outside of her historic 4-family building
Jessica describes the Martin Drive Neighborhood as a “family-friendly based community, where we all watch out for each other.” She says the Neighborhood is “almost quaint” and is “definitely a safe area.” She often watches neighborhood children play outside in the front yard of her building.
One of her favorite parts about the Martin Drive Neighborhood is its proximity to Washington Park. She explained how during normal summers, there are weekly events called “Washington Park Wednesdays” that take place at the BandShell in the park. There are food trucks, new musicians or entertainers each week, and people usually bring a picnic or lawn chairs to enjoy the evening. Jessica described Washington Park Wednesdays as “a way to bring the community together and activate the park.”
Due to COVID-19, Washington Park Wednesdays have been canceled this summer, but Washington Park is still open to community members. To hear Jessica explain a recent personal experience in Washington Park, click the audio link below.
Unfortunately, Washington Park Wednesdays are not the only community events that have been impacted by COVID-19. Jessica shared that other popular neighborhood activities, such as the annual rummage sale and summer movies in the community garden park, have been canceled for the season as well. She explained how in normal years, her landlord would put out a monthly newsletter for her tenants of events going on in the community.
Although many of the physical events have been canceled for the summer, the Martin Drive Neighborhood continues to thrive. See below a few pages of this month’s newsletter from Jessica’s landlord, featuring a section honoring Martin Drive graduates, a section expressing gratitude, and a section highlighting the Neighborhood’s beautiful flowers.
Pictured above: three pages from this month’s Martin Drive newsletter
This positive and colorful newsletter is both informative and exemplifies what Jessica means when she said the Martin Drive community is “very active in promoting community spirit.” She shared how the social distancing measures have encouraged neighbors to “reach out more than ever” and how she is taking this time to get to know the other residents in the 4 family building she lives in.
Regarding the future of the Martin Drive Neighborhood, Jessica shared how “people are very invested in this neighborhood” and she can only see it getting better. She noted how she always sees people working on their properties and how overall, the Martin Drive community is a very stable population.
Jessica also spoke about how the community is trying to build up Vliet Street into a commercial corridor. To hear more about that, click the link below for an audio clip.
Perhaps most favorably, Jessica said she enjoys a local Mexican restaurant called “2Mesa,” located on the corner of W. Martin Drive and W. Highland Boulevard. You can check out their menu here and can even order for takeout or delivery to maintain social distancing practices!
Pictured above: 2Mesa, a Mexican restaurant located on the corner of W. Martin Drive and W. Highland Boulevard.
Special thanks to Jessica for taking the time to be interviewed and for sharing her experience as a member of the Martin Drive community.