Kenosha's Southport Beach House: Our Lakefront Legacy



raised towards $500,000 goal




Kenosha's Southport Beach House: Our Lakefront Legacy

We are fundraising to restore Southport Beach House.

Our Story

In May 2012, the fate of the historic Southport Beach was uncertain. The building, a state and national registered landmark, suffered damage from a freak storm the previous summer that devastated the entire coastline of Kenosha. The microburst felled 70 trees in Southport Park Alone, and 700 trees across Kenosha primarily on the coast. It did some damage to the slate roof on the east side of the beach house that required temporary repair before the winter. After a lengthy city-wide clean up the question before the city was whether the historic building should be torn down, partially restored, or fully restored.

A study of the building was prepared by a prominent Milwaukee architectural firm and presented to the Parks Commission in May 2012. A group of then unincorporated community activists urged citizens, who overwhelmingly supported renovations, to make their voices heard in the city hall and city council--through petitions, informal surveys, numerous council meetings, and social media. As a result of citizen efforts and the actions of city aldermen, a Master Plan for all of Southport Park's 29 acres was then created. It was determined that a complete and total restoration would cost approximately $3 million dollars, but work could be spread out over 10 years while increasing usage to help pay for renovations. Then-Mayor Keith Bosman appointed 8 citizens to the the Southport Park Commission to look at how the city could increase usage of the beach house, and the commission presented their findings to the Parks Commission seven months later. In November 2014, the Southport Park Association (SPA) was created by community volunteers who applied for 501(c)3 status.

Our current mayor, John Antaramian, has provided funding for the deferred maintenance of the exterior of this historic structure. The city budget for 2019 has $1 million dedicated for the restoration of the exterior of the building. In June 2017, a partnership between the that City of Kenosha and Southport Park Association was created so that SPA could secure financial support to supplement the additional money needed to fully restore the beach house. This memorandum of understanding (MOU) was necessary as Southport Beach House and Park are owned by the City of Kenosha while Southport Park Association is a private nonprofit organization. Our mission is to work with the City of Kenosha Department of Public Works, Parks Division, and the Historic Planning Commission as a U.S. non-profit organization, in order to promote the restoration, preservation, beautification, and utilization of lakefront parks and structures beginning with Southport Beach House and Park and to raise awareness of the historic, cultural, and educational significance of these community resources.

Southport Beach House is part of our heritage. Imagine its beautification with new windows, doors, lighting and the potential to be used for new purposes while retaining its historic features. You can support Southport Park Association by sharing your voice, your time, your talents and contributions to ensure our unique historic structure is preserved and enjoyed by future generations. Your contribution will help solidify our communities past and strengthen our future. Preservation will help create a vibrant, cultural coastal destination that will draw tourism, festivals, and other activities which in turn draw investment, revenue, and economic growth.