BRIEF HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN SERB MEMORIAL HALL
The first meeting for the creation of a fund to build a new Serbian hall and church in Milwaukee was held in November 1934.
Following much research and investigation, a site at South 51st and West Oklahoma was suggested by the Very Reverend Milan Brkich, Dean of the St. Sava Cathedral. Although the area was very remote at the time, Father Brkich’s foresight envisioned it to be the most promising location for the needs of the Milwaukee Serbian community. Soon after discovering the area, Father Brkich invited the then church president, and members of the building fund committee to accompany him on a visit to the property. The location met with immediate approval by church membership. The entire 14-acre parcel of land was purchased in February 1949, and in the fall of 1949 the land was blessed and the cornerstone laid. The campaign to finance the project went into immediate full swing and its success far exceeded all expectations. Thousands of dollars were donated and everyone was eager to help and anxious to see the dream of a new Milwaukee Serbian hall become transformed into an actual physical reality.
The building was completed and dedicated in September 1950, in honor of the Serbian Orthodox young men who served with the United States armed forces, 15 of whom lost their lives. A beautiful full-wall memorial was later erected in honor of all who served and stands today in the lobby of the American Serb Memorial Hall.
Upon opening for business in 1950, the new hall soon became, by far, the most complete modern facility on the entire South and Southwest sides of Milwaukee. Accommodations included 12 bowling alleys, two bars, kitchen facilities, and a spacious air-conditioned hall with parking for 400 cars. Making Serb Hall a popular setting for banquets, meetings, wedding receptions, exhibits, rallies and other social events.
The Serb Hall’s now famous Friday Fish Fries were initiated in 1967 and continue to this day with approximately 2,000 pounds of fish now served in the hall and at its unique drive-thru and carryout window each Friday. In addition to the fish fries, the food served for various events at Serb Hall over the years has become well known throughout the entire city.
In May 1987, in order to accommodate increased business and the need for renovations, a 31,000 square foot addition became a part of Serb Hall. With the new additions, the complex now had a capacity to serve up to 2,000 persons with two beautiful air-conditioned halls, two lounges, a drive-up window, remodeled bowling alleys, new office facilities and a huge remodeled kitchen area, serving a complete menu for groups of all sizes. The entire Serb Hall was again renovated in late 1999.
Many, many important rallies have been held at Serb Hall and some of the famous persons who have visited an/or spoken there over the years include: John and Jackie Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald and Nancy Reagan, George Bush, Bill Clinton, Dick Chaney, Hubert Humphrey, Edmund Muskie, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Jerry Kleczka, Governor Tommy Thompson, Mayor John Norquist, Mayor Henry Meier, Police Chief Harold Brier, Clement Zablocki, William O’Donnell and the list goes on. As one NBC producer covering one of the rallies so aptly put it, “Serb Hall has been a must stop for local, state and federal office seekers for many years.”
American Serb Memorial Hall continues to serve extraordinary hospitality to the people of Greater Milwaukee.