It has come to be known as the Booth Street Bubbler: A public use drinking fountain outside his house. [Micah] MacArthur salvaged the bubbler's basin and mount from a box factory in the Third Ward seven years ago, and they had been sitting, collecting dust in his house since then.He's done all the necessary permitting, and his bubbler is connected to city water. It's removable for the winter.
The path by which he became a tradesman is instructive.
MacArthur grew up in Milwaukee and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 2000 with a history degree.Mr MacArthur describes his bubbler as "an act of defiance to those in power." Perhaps, though, his initiative illustrates the limitations of "the people who run things".
He said he realized quickly his degree was not going to make him a lot of money. Dabbling in a lot of jobs, he decided to go to welding school in 2004.
"Contrary to popular belief, (history) is not a very lucrative degree," he joked. "It took me a little while to find my way."
He dropped out of welding school after six months when he got a job welding at a factory, but that only lasted a few months before he received the call to become an apprentice in the plumbers union.
"It is one of those funny things," he said. "The union gives you a call, tomorrow you get a drug test, and you are working the next day."
He's been a licensed plumber ever since.
In 2010 MacArthur built himself a dining room table out of rough two-by-fours and pipes left over from the Whole Foods supermarket project after it was built on North Ave. in 2006.
Three years ago, he also installed his own solar panels to heat water — a sort of pre-heating system for his water heater. He also has a 1960s vintage refrigerator and a 1920s vintage stove he got as a trade for some work he did — both are installed and fully operational.
He says he has full intentions of piping his water heater through his vintage refrigerator, using the waste heat to supply hot water to his home.