Parking | Koeppen-Gerlach
Auditorium | Loos
Room | Masters Room | History
Centennial Hall is located within the Milwaukee
Public Library's Central Library building in downtown Milwaukee. The
hall entrance is on Eighth Street, between Wells Street and Wisconsin
Avenue, just south of the Central Library's
window. There is no entrance to the hall through the library.
The complex consists of two meeting rooms - the Masters Room and the
Loos Room - and the 700-seat Koeppen-Gerlach Auditorium. Smoking is not
allowed in any part of the complex. Food is only allowed within the complex
as provided by licensed caterers. The hall is available for rental
to the public. Certain restrictions apply.
There is limited street parking surrounding the Central Library building.
Two-hour metered parking is available Sunday through
Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is two-hour free parking on Saturday.
For information on
commercial parking lots in the surrounding area check ParkMilwaukee.com.
This 700-seat auditorium was renovated for library
use in 1982.
The auditorium was named for Phyllis Koeppen and Frederick
Gerlach. Koeppen, born in Milwaukee, was a well-known public relations
specialist and taught at Marquette University originating the course "Exploring
Milwaukee," which consisted of field trips to places important in
the city's past and future. She married Frederick Gerlach on July 15,
Frederick H. "Fritz" Gerlach was known particularly
for his watercolors of Wisconsin, Michigan and Colorado landscapes as
well as a plethora of Milwaukee landmarks. Born in West Bend, Gerlach
received his art training at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Milwaukee
Normal School and the Layton School of Art. He was art director of a
Milwaukee advertising agency and taught watercolor painting in the continuing
education division of Marquette University.
Together, Koeppen and Gerlach presented illustrated dialogues
accompanied by Gerlach's watercolors and drawings and Koeppen's exhaustive
research conducted in great part in the Milwaukee Public Library's local
history room. Both were enthusiastic supporters of the Milwaukee Public
Library. Gerlach was named Bookfellow of the Year in 1981, and received
the Benjamin Franklin Award in 1990.
The Loos Room is a 150-seat meeting room which is used at times as
overflow seating for programs in the auditorium.
The room is named for Ludwig E. Loos (1910-1981), born in Neunkirchen,
Germany in 1910, who emigrated to Milwaukee with his family in 1914. A
graduate of Hi-Mount School, Washington High School, and Marquette University,
he was associated with the Vilter Manufacturing Corp. from 1936 until his
retirement in 1978. He was a charter member and also a member of the Board
of Directors of the Bookfellows, Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library.
The Masters Room is a 35-seat meeting room adjacent to the Loos Room
The room is named for C.L. Masters (1910-1970), a native Milwaukeean and
graduate of South Division High School and the University of Wisconsin.
He founded the Kinetic Corp. in 1948 for the manufacture of knives used in
the paper industry. Masters was married to Emily Dettlaff, an active member
of the Bookfellows, Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library who served
as vice president and member of the Friends' Board of Directors and was
a lifelong friend of the library.
The Centennial Hall complex was originally added to the Central Library/Public
Museum complex and opened as a lecture hall in 1912. The museum presented popular
travel and adventure programs for children and adults on Saturday mornings,
and featured Wednesday night programs by local naturalists and travelers.
The public museum moved out of the Central Library space in 1963 and the
travel adventure series also was moved to the larger MATC Cooley Auditorium.
In 1975 the Friends of the Milwaukee Public Library (then the Bookfellows)
began a campaign to renovate the space for library use. They gave Centennial
Hall its name, hoping to reopen it during the library's centennial year
in 1978, but the campaign had to be extended to 1981. They reached their
renovation goal of $550,000, all of it private funds, in 1981.
The hall was renovated by Pfaller & Herbst Associates in consultation
with Conrad Schmidt Studios. The official grand opening was held September