Love Rock

image of construction crane and stoneworkWhat was known as the Love Rock in Lake Michigan off Bradford beach was actually the exposed concrete crib that covered the second North Point intake. The intake was built over a five-year period ending in 1895. The intake supplied water to the North Point Pumping Station. But after the Linnwood Avenue intake was built to supply the Linnwood Water Treatment Plant, the North Point intake was taken out of service in 1918* and kept on standby until 1964.

A Milwaukee newspaper account reported a trio of “artists” canoed out to the intake sometime in the 1960s and spray painted the word LOVE on the large rocks covering the intake crib structure. From then on, the structure was known as “Love Rock.”

In a Feb. 9, 1984, letter from Ald. Paul Henningsen to Mayor Henry Maier, Henningsen asked the mayor to direct either “Summerfest or the Water Department install a ‘false front’ at very minimal cost to beautify it. The ‘false front’ could, for example, advertise various summer activities, such as Summerfest.” In a Feb. 20, 1984 letter from Mayor Maier to Milwaukee Water Works Superintendent Henry Balconi, the mayor asked Balconi to consider Henningsen’s suggestion for a “false front” on the crib. Milwaukee Water Works files have no further information about the suggestion.

Love Rock was demolished in 1986 at age 91. Photos from the Sept. 24, 1986 Milwaukee Journal, “Love Rock blown out of the water” show workers placing dynamite into the structure as a boat with a crane floats nearby. A second photo shows a blast of smoke and debris. The caption reads, “Construction workers prepared explosives on the North Point water intake crib, commonly known as Love Rock, in preparation for its demolition Wednesday. The familiar Milwaukee lakefront landmark disappeared in a cloud of smoke and gravel. The cost to demolish the structure, located a half-mile from Bradford Beach in Lake Michigan was estimated at $125,000. It was destroyed because the crib was a navigational hazard and was deteriorating structurally, said Henry Balconi, superintendent of the Milwaukee Water Works. The crib was built in the 1890s and was last used in 1921.”

*Milwaukee Water Works records indicate the intake was taken out of service in 1918, not 1921 as the Journal stated.

"Whatever happened to Milwaukee's Love Rock?"

WUWM's Bubbler Talk asks the question and provides an answer.

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