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Bradley Tech High School

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Date: Saturday May 17th Time: 9:30am til ? Inspection started at 8:00 Where: Milwaukee Boys Technical and Trade High School What: 2 Woodworking shops, 2 metalworking shops, welding, plumbing, automotive and assorted other shops, classrooms, and admin offices

Imagine this - 4 floors of a 100 year old high school, full of shops and classrooms, equipment and tooling, accessories and dirty paper. I was told that you had 500,000 sq. ft. to negotiate, so while the boots I wore were good for moving and hauling, they sucked at all the walking required.

The Bradley Foundation donated a ton of money to help build a new Tech High School, and now that the school is open, the old one is being dismantled to make room for their athletic fields.

The old Tech is well known throughout Wisconsin, and I'd venture to say that its well known throughout the Midwest. If you graduated from Tech, you'd spend very little time as an apprentice and get first shot at the open jobs. When you graduated from Tech, you are known to be a tradesman, craftsman, or on your way to becoming a college athlete.

I didn't go there, but my brother and sister did (I think they opened the school to girls in the early 80s). Before Saturday, I was only in Tech 2 other times, and both times to harass my siblings. So, I never really appreciated the size and scope of the buildings, nor the skill level of the students who passed through her doors.

The main entrance had 8 double doors that opened to marble stairs and brass railings atop wrought iron rail posts. The light fixtures looked like something out of an old church - hung with chains from the ceiling, simple yet ornate. They don't make buildings like this anymore.

The journey began in the 1st floor metal shop. This shop was for the upperclassmen and had all the larger machines. Each machine bolted to the diagonally laid wooden floor - the machines on a 30 degree angle to the windows. Rows of lathes, workbenches, cabinets, grinders and drill presses. Cubby holes with tooling, abrasives, lubricants, and spare parts. 2 offices with teachers desks, filing cabinets, and lots of paper. If you didn't know this were a high school, you would have sworn that this was a large production shop.

I posted the announcement for this auction a while back. I went to Tech, class of '66. I took electronics because that's what I was interested in. I was a ham at the time. I never used that education. Two weeks before the auction I called the auction company for an appointment to preview the auction. It's a big place and 1 1/2 hours available on auction day wouldn't be enough. The lady at the auction Co. said "Just go down there any time and walk in, the boy's are getting ready this week." Well I didn't get around to going until last Wednesday 3 days before the auction. There wasn't anybody there. Almost all the doors were locked. Almost. I found one open way out of the way near the engineers office. I spent 3-1/2 hours walking around the school checking everything out and drooling on my shirt. I was almost alone. 2 school employees were trying to lift a small brake in the HVAC shop on to a pallet jack and were having a hell of a time. I chuckled quietly and left. 2 ladies putting their names on some plumbing fixtures in the plumbing shop. Other than that I was alone.

There was a cabinet full of old planer tools but no planer. Big hunks of tool steel shaped like the letter 'P' with a cutting edge. There was a large empty concrete machine pad. That could have held the planer at one time. Or maybe a machining center that went to the new school.

The SB lathes looked pretty beat but the ways weren't grooved hardly at all. Probably were actually taken care of pretty well. One of the K&T mills looked good and was to be my target. Alas, not enough money, not enough room in the shop.

I didn't go to the auction, I didn't want to torture myself. I had my time in the old school in the 60's and 3-1/2 hours alone last Wednesday.

I still got lost several times like I did when I attended Tech. There are so many nooks and crannies I bet the auctioneers didn't find everything.

The prices seem about right for this area at this time. Lots of shops going under around here has put an awful lot of manual machines on the market lately.

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