Michael Horne
House Confidential

Shorewood’s Mystery Mansion

Margaret Connolly Flint has a gorgeous Lake Drive home, but why are all the blinds drawn?

By - Aug 11th, 2013 12:01 pm
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In October, 1997, neighbors were amazed when “an otherwise perfectly normal $300,000 home in a pristine neighborhood was being demolished,” wrote Marie Rohde in the Milwaukee Journal.

The month before, Claire Krom, retired to Florida, sold the 3,800 sq. ft. home to his neighbors to the north, Charles Albright Flint and his wife Margaret Connolly Flint, who paid cash. They wanted the neighboring property to enlarge their yard, which would then measure 220 x 150 ft.

Such a move is not entirely unheard of among House Confidential honorees. Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig tore down a neighboring house in Bayside a couple of years ago.

But at least Bud opens his curtains to let in his expanded view.

The $200,000 fence that caused the ire of Margaret Connolly Flint surrounds her home where the shades are always drawn.  Taken August 9 2013 by Michael Horne

The $200,000 fence that caused the ire of Margaret Connolly Flint surrounds her home where the shades are always drawn.
Taken August 9 2013 by Michael Horne

Not so the Flints. Despite the new yard, impressively landscaped with mature conifers, surrounded by a $200,000 fence and enhanced with a 30 ft. tall, $75,000 fountain, the curtains on the Flint home have never been seen open. Not a single one of them.

Retired Judge David V. Jennings, whose first wife grew up in the house told Rohde, “the drapes are always drawn. I never see anyone there.”

The reporter heard that the home’s interior is in immaculate condition, but added “few have seen it because the Flints are intensely private people.”

Krom, the former owner, told the reporter that “neither he nor his wife had spoken to the Flints, even though they had been neighbors for more than a decade. ‘They are people nobody knows.’”

Charles A. Flint was born in 1925 and died on October 25th, 2003, twenty years after he and his wife, whom he married in 1954, moved into the 19 room, 6,812 square foot, “2 story with attic stone mansion” with 7 bedrooms, 5 full baths, 1 half-bath and attached 792 square foot garage.

His probate file lists a visible estate of $21,052,359.20, which is by any account an impressive piece of change to leave behind. Often in the case of those with large fortunes substantial assets like insurance are not included in probate totals, so the Flint fortune may be larger than this sum indicates. His heir was his wife, who has no problem paying her $54,941.95 property tax bill with that kind of loot lying around. [In fact, Mrs. Flint also has an in-town, full-floor getaway on the 32nd floor of the 33-floor, previously profiled Kilbourn Tower, 923 E. Kilbourn Avenue, that is valued at $3,456,700. Let's hope she opens the windows there.]

The house and its grounds show absolutely no signs of deferred maintenance, and the Flints have kept workers busy on the property, built for candy heir Harry S. Johnston. The Flints re-roofed the place in 1982, and then set about the next year repairing and rebuilding a brick garden wall. In 1983 they also had a new concrete drive turnaround installed. In 1987 they spent $40,000 to remodel 6 baths and one kitchen. In 1997, with the new property at their disposal, the Flints rerouted their driveway, and in the next year they put in that $200,000 fence and $75,000 fountain, which appears to be a genuine mid-Victorian piece. You could bathe a horse in it.

After Mr. Flint’s death, things have slowed on the contractor side, with only a basement dishwasher being installed in 2004, and nothing since.

About Charles A. Flint

Charles Albright Flint is named after his grandfather, Dr. Charles Edgar Albright, who married Schlitz heir Laura Uihlein Albright. Dr. Albright must have been a delight to his father-in-law Henry Uihlen, president of Schlitz brewery, because he became a success in his own right, which was rare among husbands of early 20th century heiresses.

Doc made his money not in medicine, but in insurance, becoming a legendary producer for Northwestern Mutual, which relies heavily on business from wealthy patrician families like Uihleins and Albrights and their pals. For a remarkable 30 years (1905-1935) Albright was the number one producer of NML’s 6,000 nationwide agents. The sale of Lorraine Uihlein Albright’s antiques in 1968 was a national event. Chances are that Flint had his pick of goods pre-sale.

Charles Flint does not appear to have engaged in any active business pursuits. He and his wife are not known to the philanthropic community, as nearly as can be determined. Flint used a 735 N. Water St. address on some business stationary, significantly omitting a suite number. But that building has long held the family offices of the Uihleins, and there is a good chance Flint operated out of them, or at least had his mail forwarded there.

Margaret Connolly, of New York City had already lost both of her parents at the time of her marriage to Charles Flint, who at that time had spent six years in the army. He attended Milwaukee Country Day School, St. John’s Military Academy and Carroll College, from which he apparently did not graduate.

But success in money does not always lead to happiness, it has been said, and the Flint story bears this out in spades. The Flints would consider the Kennedy family to be exceptionally lucky.

Flint’s uncle, Charles Albright, Jr. killed himself on New Year’s eve 1938 by walking in front of a train in Oconomowoc. His aunt, Marion Albright Tallmadge, died in a mysterious 1958 fire that destroyed her 25-room Oconomowoc mansion just six months after a son died in an airplane crash. Police were not amused with the dynamite and 42 machine guns stored in the home, the property of W. David Tallmadge, another son of Marion. Around that time, young Tallmadge was sent to an insane asylum for repeatedly (200 times) molesting a 13-year old girl, so the cops confiscated the munitions. Tallmadge sued unsuccessfully to get them back. Tallmadge is now serving a life sentence in California for the molestation of his own daughter and her friend in the 1990’s.

Charles Flint’s mother, Lorraine Albright Flint, divorced his father, Arthur McGeogh Flint in 1931, shortly after their marriage. She suffered from depression and spent most of her life institutionalized. This left Charles Flint to be raised by his grandmother in her home just across Lake Drive from the Flint home.

Arthur McGeogh Flint was himself the grandson of Peter McGeoch, a Milwaukee speculator whose 1885 attempt to corner the lard market led to an acrimonious lawsuit by Daniel Wells, Jr. In 1895 McGeoch’s wife filed for divorce from the father of her four young children, including Charles Flint’s future mother. McGeogh wrote a will giving his wife $25,000, leaving the rest of his million dollar estate to his children. He then went upstairs and shot himself.

(The McGeoch Building, 322 E. Michigan St. is now owned by David Uihlein, (you can’t escape these people) and will be featured once again in Doors Open Milwaukee.)

So, perhaps the apparent gloom of the darkened interior of the Flint Mansion, where sunlight never peeks, is an appropriate setting for widow Flint’s final days. But wouldn’t it be nice to throw open the windows, let the light in, and admire the beautiful, gurgling fountain in the yard?

Fun Fact

Go away! Nothing for you to see here. Please keep moving. We are not seeing callers.   Taken August 9 2013 by Michael Horne

Go away! Nothing for you to see here. Please keep moving. We are not seeing callers.
Taken August 9 2013 by Michael Horne

Margaret Connolly Flint, who is about 84, doesn’t get out much apparently, but she certainly has an eye. She called Shorewood village officials a few years ago when she noted that a neighbor’s gate, when fully opened, encroached some 8 inches into her property. The village officials sent a cease and desist order to the neighbor, and recommended that perhaps a stop could be included in the neighbor’s fencing arrangement to prevent his gate from encroaching on the perfectly landscaped grounds (no flowers, though) of Margaret Connolly Flint.

Mrs. Flint’s own $200,000 fence gave her some pause. The fence was to have been “wrought iron.” It could be described as such only by the loosest of imaginations. There is nothing distinguished about its construction; it is run-of-the-mill goods. Mrs Flint sued Munson, the contractor, over the job, and apparently received a settlement..

The Rundown

  • Style: Stone Tudor-style Mansion
  • Location: Village of Shorewood
  • Neighborhood: “Lakeview” (Yes. Shorewood has neighborhoods!)
  • Walk Score: 49 out of 100. “Car Dependent” [“Most errands require a car.”] Atomic Glass is .71 miles away if Mrs. Flint is shopping for a bong. She can further her studies at the Wisconsin Torah Institute down the block in Milwaukee.
  • Public Transit Score: 45 out of 100.
  • Street Smart Walk Score: 31 out of 100.
  • Commuting Time: Probably a moot point, since Mrs. Flint is well within retirement age.
  • Affordability Index: Extremely affordable. Mrs. Flint has enough cash on hand to buy another 10 of these mansions, and she has that Kilbourn Tower condo to fall back on.
  • Size: 6,812 square feet
  • Year Built: 1926
  • Assessed Value: Land — $338,200; Improvements — $1,757,900. Total — $2,096,100
  • Taxes: $54,941.95 paid in full.

How Milwaukee Is It?

Mrs. Flint could hop on her bike and take the scenic route to City Hall in 4.77 miles. Or, she could hoof it and shave off quite some distance by taking the city streets 3.95 miles to her destination. Her Kilbourn Tower condo is even closer.

House Confidential Street Smart Rankings

  1. Herb Kohl (97)
  2. Latrell Sprewell (96)
  3. Beth Weirick (95)
  4. Mark Belling (94)
  5. Michael D. Drescher (94)
  6. Ryan Braun (94)
  7. Mark Attanasio (93)
  8. Barry Mandel (93)
  9. Drew Gooden (92)
  10. Don Smiley (91)
  11. 2013 Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse (91)
  12. Gregory Thornton (90)
  13. Ian Abston (90)
  14. Andy Nunemaker (89)
  15. Dr. Hermann Viets (88)
  16. Jeff Joerres (87)
  17. Jim Wiechmann (86)
  18. Brandon Jennings (82)
  19. Nik Kovac (82)
  20. Marina Dimitrijevic (81)
  21. Robert Bauman (81)
  22. Bob Donovan (70)
  23. Robert Greenstreet (68)
  24. Rocky Marcoux (68)
  25. Tom Barrett (63)
  26. Sue Black (61)
  27. Brian Taffora (57)
  28. Tim Sullivan (49)
  29. Julia Taylor (40)
  30. Chris Abele (37)
  31. Margaret Connolly Flint (31)
  32. Grant Langley (12)
  33. David A. Clarke, Jr. (11)
  34. Allan Huber “Bud” Selig (5)
  35. Scott Skiles (3)
  36. John W. Daniels, Jr. (2)

Photo Gallery

Categories: House Confidential

18 thoughts on “House Confidential: Shorewood’s Mystery Mansion”

  1. Make sure to click on the photo gallery pictures. I have written captions for each of them to tell more of the story.
    Thanks,
    Horne

  2. Patrick mahoney says:

    some years back I was fortunate enough to meet Mrs. Flint, she’s quite a lovely lady. I don’t understand why such a negative toned article has been written about her. Look at all the money and businesses that she and her late husband have supported-certainly price has never been their concern.
    Not only does she pay hefty real estate taxes to Shorewood but now apparently similar taxes to Milwaukee as well. Both she and her husband have supported the Milwaukee Public Library very generously-always made substantial gifts anonymously and Mrs. Flint is a devoted catholic as well. Yes she wants her privacy and why not? Ask anyone of her contractors or anyone who has done business with her and maybe (though not likely-due to confidence clauses)they will tell you Mrs Flint is extremely generous and always very kind but Mrs Flint also has a very discerning eye and will only accept the very best and finest workmanship–and hasn’t any problem to pay for that. The interior of her home is magnificient yet reserved. Exquisite 18th c English and American furniture-nothing heavy or pondering-well maybe except for the lush window treatments. She prefers her rooms quiet and the light controlled. and her draperies by the way are open–what you see from the street are her closed glass curtains made of the finest available linen–plenty of light comes through those curtains!

  3. Harvey says:

    Congratulations to them! Their beautiful home is illustrative of a long lifetime of making good decisions. Hats off to smart people!

  4. Shaia says:

    Frankly, who cares if she does close her drapes (which Mr Mahoney informs us she does not)?

  5. Dave K. says:

    @Harvey, it sounds like the decision to be a Uihlein heir was the best decision they made!

  6. ken lamke says:

    i’ve enjoyed your entire series of stories on the homes of notable milwaukeeans and this one may be the best yet. patrick mahoney’s comments add valuable factual information, although i disagree with his characterization of your piece as negative. since you are invariably writing about political or athletic celebrities or the rich (sometimes the subject is two out of three), i think they can stand to have some gentle fun poked their way. wish you had thought about doing these stories back when you worked at the old milwaukee sentinel 20 years ago.

  7. MJ says:

    @ Patrick, or anyone else who knows …
    What, pray tell, are “‘glass curtains’” made of the finest available linen?” Glass curtains? Never heard that term before; I must be so uncouth.

  8. mj says:

    I agree with Mr. Lamke’s comment. I enjoy your writings and I don’t view this piece as being negative. I recognize the irony of razing a neighboring mansion to enlarge a lawn — and then seemingly closing oneself off from viewing or using the lawn! But who am I to judge?
    … Now, just what are these “glass curtains made of the finest available linen?” Mr. Mahoney speaks of?

  9. Patrick Mahoney says:

    Hmm to make a clarification: Long time ago when we cared that windows were properly dressed: glass curtains are unlined fabric be they made out of cotton, linen or silk. They hang on curtain rods with rings so that they may be pulled back to wash the windows. sometimes they are stretched on channel rods top and bottom as well. then the next layer would be draperies that were generally hung on traverse rods so that they could be opened or closed. Finally a pelmet or cornice of various types were used to conceal all the hardware of the draperies and or curtains. Today most people barely hang up a width of fabric on the windows or leave them uncovered to display to passing world (including would be intruders) all your possessions.. also its a fast way for the sun to fade-out your rugs, art and upholstery and wood floors as well…

  10. Rob says:

    I have met Mrs. Flint on numerous occasions while doing work at her home. She is very particular, but as long as things are done as she wants them done, kind and generous. After doing work, she always rewarded myself and my crew with a nice tip and often a Sendik’s bag full of snacks. Believe me when I say that she helps keep a lot of tradespeople busy with the money she spends.

  11. Leslie says:

    Margaret Flint was a regular feature many years ago at Affiliated Medical Services on the east side. She would drive down in her Cadillac and stand outside the clinic in her fur-lined coat berating the young women seeking reproductive health services. A very conservative Catholic, she would also criticize the other Catholics for not being old-school enough for her.

  12. Andrew Davidson says:

    It would be her societal obligation to all that is fair to open her gates so that we can ALL get to stand in front of her fountain. Why should this person, who apparently is part of the 1%, be allowed to live better than everyone else around her? I have seen her standing, watching the fountain, and I would like to see it the way that she does, too. It is my right. Why should one person be allowed to have access to something so wonderful and I cannot? What makes her better? Her money? The city should MAKE her open those gates – her property sits on Earth, it belongs to all of us, because we are people, too. Why should this person, this family, get to ‘own’ and ‘control’ this piece of Earth?

  13. Andrew Davidson says:

    Why won’t you post my comment?

    She doesn’t own the Earth that building is on!

    I want to go see the fountain…I’ve rode my bike past it a ton of times…why can’t I see it, too?

    Hypocrites.

  14. Tori Smith says:

    Oops! Maybe you don’t know that my grandparents Johnston bought the lot next door when they built their home. In the winter my grandfather and his handyman put up a toboggan slide for the grandchildren to use. When we were done with our sleds, et we shed out boots in the back hall and the cook, Selma, gave us cookies and Johnston’s hot cocoa.
    I’m not sure when the lot was sold but remember the new house being built.

  15. Tori Smith says:

    Was my earlier comment too long to print? I thought people would like to know a little about how my grandparents made their house a Home.

  16. Morton Finklestien says:

    Andrew Davidson,

    Some people might consider you a little unhinged, but I think you have a point. In honor of your wisdom, I will go to every Packer home game this year and demand that I watch from the sidelines (50 yard line). For the earth that field hath been built upon belongs to all of us, and I deserve to see it as Aaron Rodgers does!

    We could carpool?

    Lmk, Morty

  17. Andrew Davidson says:

    Unhinged? Probably. However, my post was tongue and cheek…had just read an article about the new mine being proposed/built up north and that was (paraphrasing) basically what one of the eco-terrorist’s position on things were. I figured “hey, why can’t that argument be made for every piece of land that is privately owned?” Just wanted to see what others would say to such on “on it’s face ridiculous” position.

  18. #17 Andrew Davidson

    You admit that you used my blog to set a trap for other readers. But you failed; too clever by half. An important distinction between the proposed mine and Mrs. Flint’s property is that the mine has a public access easement in exchange for tax relief granted to the owners by the people through their legislators.
    You will doubtless be pleased to know that there is legislation proposed to preserve the tax breaks while prohibiting public access.

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