Michael Horne
House Confidential

Where the Ax Man Relaxed

Brewers reliever John Axford lived in this $1.7 million Fox Point home, with pristine lake views and a monster garage.

By - Feb 2nd, 2014 03:54 pm
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This 2004 lakefront home in the Village of Fox Point was once the rented residence of former Milwaukee Brewer relief pitcher John Axford, where the “Ax Man,” as he was nicknamed, rested up and relaxed between his high-pressure stints closing games.

The house appears to be in move-in condition. It can be yours for $1,745,000. Act soon, as it’s costing its owner about a thousand bucks a week in taxes.

Fox Point Home

Fox Point Home

The home is in the southern reaches of the 2.8 square mile village. It consists of 4 bedrooms, 3 full and one half-baths, lovely views and an attached 1,011 square foot garage. [There are homes on Regent Road in Fox Point smaller than that garage.] The home sits on a 1.38 acre property. The dirt alone is assessed at 962,000, or $17 per square foot. [That is the same cost as covering the entire yard in $2 bills.] The home itself, valued at an additional $1,034,000, is described in real-estate-speak as an “architect-designed beach house.”

This is an arguable statement. We shall allow the architect his anonymity, since he expressed it well enough in his design. But to call this a “beach house” is a bit of a stretch. The beach itself lies about 250 feet east of and a good 100 feet below the home. You just can’t dash out of the sunroom and into the lake for a quick dip in the surf as the folks on Beach Drive do.

So the lake is best observed through the sunroom itself, where the “soaring ceiling height full eastern exposure enhances the sensation of serenity,” again in the words of Fran Maglio Wallace of First Weber Group Realtors, who has the listing for this “discriminating home unlike any other in Milwaukee.”

”’Pristine lake view’ doesn’t begin to describe what awaits you each morning as the lake landscape evolves with each new day,” the poet writes, evoking langourous days where one can gaze at Michigami through a cloak of haze. No wonder Axford lost his bearings in his latter days with the Brew Crew.

About John Axford

John Axford signed with the Milwaukee Brewers on March 4, 2008 and was traded to the St. Louis Cardinals on August 30, 2013. In the years 2010 through 2012, he was the team’s closer and became a popular favorite with fans, dubbed “the Ax Man,” who could be counted on cut down the opposing batters in almost every game he closed. Originally a fast ball pitcher who could throw at speeds of up to 100 MPH, he eventually added a curve ball and slider to his repertoire.  He wore a handlebar mustache for some time, bringing back memories of famed reliever and fan favorite Rollie Fingers, and in 2011 Axford was named the recipient of the 2011 “Robert Goulet Memorial Mustached American of the Year Award” by the American Mustache Institute, proving there is a support organization for nearly every imaginable interest group in this hyperactive land.

Axford was also the first Brewers pitcher since Fingers to lead the league in saves, in 2011, with 46, also setting the Brewers’ franchise record for most saves. Over the second half of 2011 and first six games pitched in 2012, he had 49 straight saves, the fourth longest streak in major league history. He finished 2012 with 35 saves, the sixth-most in the National League. In 2013, he seemed to lose his touch and was traded.

In response, Axford offered to two lovely tweets to his fans: “Dear Milwaukee, if you’re reading this tweet you already know. I’ve been traded… My arm. My moustache. Everything. I’ll be in St. Louis. Area code 314. I love you. AX.”

He had some success with the Cardinals, but the team let him go and he was signed as a free agent by the Cleveland Indians on December 19, 2013.

About the Village of Fox Point

The Dutch arrived in the Village of Fox Point in 1846 and moved out in 1890, thereby opening the land for civilization, which was soon to come in spades. The Hollanders left behind a couple of lonely graveyards. One is on N. Port Washington Road at W. Bradley Road. Another, far lonlier, is the Van der Velde Bethlehem Cemetery located at 1800 E. Fox Lane where a couple of monuments overlooking the lake are greeted by the sun each morning.

After the Dutch split town, largely to settle in Oostburg, a lake-level community in Sheboygan County, the land was purchased by German farmers who plowed under whatever Indian mounds remained in the community. They were able to harvest fruit and crops from the clay soil, as well as engage in dairy operations. By 1890 much of the farmland had been purchased by speculators. Seventy-five acres west of Lake Drive was leased by the Milwaukee Country Club where the new sport of golf engaged a select few of the public. By 1898 country homes began springing up, particularly east of Lake Drive. Folks like Mariner, Underwood, Van Dyke and Fairchild constructed quality homes in the area.

The area was called “Fox Point,” since the way it protrudes into the great lake resembled a fox snout according to land surveyors. Administratively, however, it was part of the Town of Milwaukee.

The town board was controlled by the area farmers, who did not have much in common with the gentry of the country club and the new wealthy settlers. They weren’t too eager to see a village government that would threaten their agricultural heritage, but after time they relented, (or became outnumbered) and in 1926, by a vote of 125 for to 25 opposed, the Village of Fox Point was incorporated — minus the western farmy area. That part was eventually absorbed by 1954 and the farmers, like the Dutch, disappeared. [The only remnant of the agricultural heritage is Nic Ehr landscape company.]

The Village was to have had a delightful planned central core, but just as the land speculators of 1890 were soon faced with a financial panic that delayed development, the 1926 Eschweiler plan for a business center of lovely buildings was thrown off the rails by the Great Depression. It survives mostly in a series of curvy streets and a “mall” in the center of the village.

Otherwise, the retail elements of the community are undistinguished to a notable degree. The finest public structure in the area is the private Town Club, which moved from Milwaukee after a 1950s fire destroyed the Brady Street home of the tennis club. The village also is the site of Doctors Park, which itself is adjacent to Bayside’s Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. Both of those properties have lake-accessible shoreline, as does Beach Drive just to the south.

Fun Fact

This is the first House Confidential home to have a mineshaft in the immediate vicinity. Just to the north, at about 6800 N. Barnett Lane, a shaft was sunk in the earth to a depth of about 22 feet below beach level. From this shaft radiated a number of tunnels from which limestone was extracted, brought to the surface, and used for the manufacture of gravel and cement. This operation ceased in 1929 and the shaft was filled in. The tunnels, however, remain.

THE RUNDOWN

  • Location: Village of Fox Point
  • Neighborhood: East of Lake Drive
  • Subdivision: Lake View Highlands
  • Year Built: 2004
  • Style: “Architect Designed”
  • Architect: The records are silent on this matter.
  • Size: 4,265 square feet
  • Fireplaces: 1
  • Taxes: $50,332.14
  • Assessment: Land $962,000, Improvements $1,034,000; Total: $1,996,000
  • Offering Price: Listed at $1,745,000
  • Walk Score: 32 out of 100, “Car-Dependent.” And how.
  • Street Smart: 19 out of 100, “Car-Dependent”
  • Transit Score: 0 out of 100, “No Transit”

How Milwaukee is it? The residence is 10 miles from City Hall and several more to Miller Park.

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