Michael Horne
House Confidential

Steve Novak’s Dull Whitefish Bay Home

Milwaukee Buck and former MU star has plain-Jane home, eagle-eyed neighbors.

By - Nov 10th, 2016 02:04 pm
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Steve Novak's Dull Whitefish Bay Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

Steve Novak’s Dull Whitefish Bay Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

In 2012 Steve Novak and his wife Christina paid $725,000 for this 2003 Whitefish Bay home. Steve Novak, of course, is a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, but the purchase of the residence by the 33-year old Brown Deer native and Marquette University graduate preceded by three years his hiring by the Bucks, and shows a commitment of a major league athlete to his hometown.

The Novak home is in a quiet area east of Lake Drive in the 2-square mile lakefront community of 14,000. Whitefish Bay is barely simmering as far as melting pots go, with a population that is 1.9 percent African American, 2.8 percent Latino, 3.7 percent Asian, 0.1 percent Native American and 91.9 percent white.

The proximity of Klode Park means that the Novaks have a near courtside seat at the village’s biggest game of all — its family-friendly Fourth of July parade, party and fireworks. The area is located between the lake and Santa Monica Blvd., which is intersected only occasionally by east-west streets. This relative isolation guarantees a neighborly, almost cloistered feeling, with very little through traffic, and with seemingly a pair of eyes behind every window, looking out on the street just feet away. People in Whitefish Bay tend to be on the lookout for unusual activity. Problem is, the place is so dead that any activity at all can be a cause for suspicion.

A bicyclist riding through the neighborhood taking a few photographs of houses become most conspicuous in such an environment, even at dusk during a Packers game, when you’d think people would be inside and not raking leaves or delivering tins of freshly baked cookies to their friends, all while keeping an eye out on the stranger on the bike.

The Novak family has five bedrooms and three full baths at their disposal. The home has a typical postage stamp-sized front yard, but in this case it is smaller than the neighbors’, since the front of the Novak home includes a two-car garage and drive. Every other home on the block has a driveway to the side. (In addition to the rather narrow 40-foot lots, Whitefish Bay blocks tend to not have alleys, leading to many curb cuts and limited street parking.)

The reason for the distinction between the Novak home and its neighbors is one of chronology: it is about 80 years newer than its neighbors, which were almost all built just before the Great Depression for middle class residents, many of whom had been born in the United States of immigrant parents. They were moving on up to the East Side, and Whitefish Bay was just a streetcar ride away. The side driveways and rear garages were to come later, for the most part, with a number of exceptions, particularly among the lakefront mansions.

These older houses also remain, though with a number of exceptions, particularly among the lakefront mansions. The high desirability of lakefront property has made it economically feasible for some substantial homes to be razed in the village and replaced by more expensive ones. Most single family residences from the 21st century can be found on the lake, where they replaced earlier homes. (Whitefish Bay probably saw its last virgin vacant lot sometime just after World War II.)

Novak’s home is also located on the site of an earlier residence that was demolished to allow for its construction. At $25 per square foot, the land is not cheap. For the most part the home fits in, but the double door garage facing you right on the street is somewhat jarring. Maybe it would look more natural if it had a basketball hoop in front.

Craig Counsell‘s Whitefish Bay home has a basketball hoop, and he’s a baseball manager. Of course Counsell lives south of Silver Spring Drive, and they probably do things a little differently — a little looser — on that side of town. I blame its proximity to Shorewood.

Still, for a suburban home of no particular distinction or style — it looks like it belongs in Novak’s home town of Brown Deer — the location at least has very urban attributes, although with a distinctly small-town cast.

It’s even “Somewhat Walkable,” and there is probably no suburb that has a higher percentage of kids biking to school, and generally all over town. (Jake Newborn, who runs the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin Safe Routes to School program, is a graduate of Whitefish Bay High School.)

Maddeningly, for a community that has a sidewalk on both sides of every street, and a nice, orderly street grid, a whole two square miles to deal with, and no need to drive — ideal drinking conditions — it is not the kind of place where you will find a tavern, as you would in any normal Wisconsin community. Jack Pandl’s Restaurant, way on the east side of town, and surrounded by nothing, is about the best you can do here. Thiensville is half the size of Whitefish Bay and five times the fun, and that’s not saying much.

Sendik’s is only a couple of blocks away, and Klode Park can be loads of excitement if it is your custom to disport yourself in a calm, orderly fashion. They still sell penny candy for just a quarter apiece at Fitzgerald’s Pharmacy, and if dad says it’s O.K., maybe we can cross the border into Glendale and have a custard at Kopp’s.

Whitefish Bay: “The Leafy Suburb”

Whitefish Bay is often described as a “leafy suburb.” I used the term the last time House Confidential visited the village for a look at the home of John Hammond, Novak’s boss. As far back as 1994 the term appears in an article in Education Week Teacher. For more than two decades, Whitefish Bay has been declared a “Tree City USA” by the Arbor Day Foundation.

This November, though the weather was mild, has brought the inevitable defoliation of the leafy suburb’s deciduous trees. The residents of the Bay are nothing if not punctilious about their responsibilities for the upkeep of their little parcels of this little community. On a recent pleasant Sunday afternoon, nearly every front lawn in the village had been cleared of fallen leaves, swept by homeowners to the curbside for removal by sanitation workers.

Pumpkins. Photo by Michael Horne.

Pumpkins. Photo by Michael Horne.

For good measure, these future compost piles were also heaped with the remnants of hostas and other groundcovers. Additionally, the mounds were topped by the cornstalks and pumpkins that had decorated the porches of the community just the week before. This is the sort of community where pumpkins and other decorative gourds are set neatly by the curb, intact, and not smashed in the street by Hooligans coming over the border from Glendale. Poor pumpkins, whisked away before even the first kiss of frost.

About Steve Novak

Steven Michael Novak got an early start playing basketball. His parents, Michael and Jeanne, “placed a mini basketball hoop above his baby crib and Steve started throwing the ball toward it in his first year,” as an ESPN story recounted.

“When Steve was in grade school, he took things to a whole other level. In the basement of the Novak residence, which consisted of a play area and TV setup, Steve’s parents installed an adjustable hoop on two suspension poles. Even during Packers games — the Novaks are big fans — Steve’s parents could hear him downstairs taking shot after shot.

“Starting at age 6, Steve was already setting goals for himself. On a chalkboard, he would write “500” or “1,000” — and those weren’t for attempts.

“‘He would count how many shots he made, not how many he shot,’ Michael told ESPNNewYork.com.”

Michael soon installed a shooting device “that attached to the bottom of the backboard and automatically passed balls to where Steve was standing, or a spot he would be moving to (like a tennis machine).”

Novak attended Brown Deer High School where his father was his basketball coach for all four years. By his junior season, Steve was already averaging 22.2 points, 12.0 rebounds and 3.4 blocked shots per game.  As a senior in 2002 he was was named the Wisconsin High School Boys’ Basketball Player of the Year and Scout.com ranked him as the No. 17 small forward and the No. 62 player in the nation.

Novak attended Marquette University, where as a freshman, he played in the Final Four, alongside future NBA players Dwyane Wade and Travis Diener. By his senior year Novak led the team in points per game (17.5),  averaged 5.9 rebounds per game and shot 97.4 percent from the foul line. His top performances included a 41-point, 16-rebound effort in Marquette’s 94–79 upset of then #2 UConn in Marquette’s inaugural Big East contest.

Drafted with the 32nd pick in 2006 by the Houston Rockets, Novak has had an up-and-down pro career, but has endured for more than a decade, while playing with eight different NBA teams before signing with the Bucks. His reliable three point shot has been the main reason Novak has continued to play. His peak year was undoubtedly with the New York Knicks in the “Linsanity” year, when point guard Jeramey Lin set Novak up with lots of pinpoint passes. At the end of the 2011-12 NBA season, Novak led the league in 3-point percentage at 47.2 percent and tied Kevin Durant for third in total 3-point shots made. The following season, his turnover percentage of 2.63 turnovers committed per 100 plays led the league, and was the lowest single-season mark in league history — just what you would expect from a coach’s son.

Steven Novak — A Good Citizen who Votes

Novak cast an absentee ballot for the November 2016 General Election. It was received by the Village Clerk on October 26th.

Photo Gallery

The Rundown

  • Owner: Steve and Christina Novak
  • Location: Village of Whitefish Bay
  • Neighborhood: Klode Park
  • Subdivision: Continuation of Lawndale Subdivision
  • Year Built: 2003
  • Architect: None Found
  • Style: Contemporary traditional with conspicuous garage element on facade.
  • Size: 2,123 (main area) + 1,925 (basement area) = 4,048 square feet finished living area.
  • Fireplaces: 1
  • Rec Room: Of course
  • Assessment: Land: 5,227 square foot lot (.12 acres) is valued at $127,200 ($24.33 per square foot). Improvements: $629,300. Total assessed valuation: $756,500.
  • Taxes: $17,481.38 Paid in Full on the Installment Plan.
  • Garbage Collection Route and Schedule: Thursday (Orange)
  • Polling Location: Whitefish Bay Village Library, 5420 N Marlborough Drive.
  • Aldermanic District: N/A. Community run by 6-member village board who serve at large.
  • County Supervisor District: 3; Sheldon A. Wasserman
  • Walk Score: 55 out of 100 “Somewhat Walkable” City of Milwaukee Average: 61. This is a suburb of regular rectangular blocks on a grid. Silver Spring Drive, a major shopping street is nearby. Lots of kids bicycle here.
  • Transit Score: Could not be determined. City of Milwaukee average: 49.

How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is 6 miles north of Milwaukee City Hall.

The Rundown was researched by Jordan Garcia

12 thoughts on “House Confidential: Steve Novak’s Dull Whitefish Bay Home”

  1. Paul says:

    Michael, this critique of WFB and Novak’s house is uncharacteristically harsh. Is there a back story here?

  2. kat says:

    Paul, that is a great question and I have been wondering that myself.

  3. Jeff says:

    Michael, get a life – you loser. You are a creepy old man taking pictures of people’s homes and writing about it. Don’t you see something wrong with that? Let me be the one to tell you that you should see something wrong with that. Go back to your mom’s basement and find something else to do. Maybe she will let you play with her dresses and jewelry.

  4. Liloldlady says:

    An excellent critique in my jaded opinion.
    – a Shorewoodian!

  5. Penrod says:

    #1 Paul, I don’t think it was ‘uncharacteristically’ harsh.

    Whitefish Bay is full of people who finished high school, finished college with majors which actually made these scum employable above the level of washing cars, got jobs, kept them, saved their incomes so they could make down payments on nice houses in neighborhoods full of people with similar outlooks on life, with little crime, children who are expected to go to school every day, do their homework every night, and eventually go to college themselves. Rinse and Repeat.

    Then these anti-social justice fiends maintain their houses and yards and keep an eye out for people they don’t recognize doing things which make them stand out i.e. act like good neighbors concerned about the safety of their community.

    What’s to respect about any of that?

    If they had the slightest sense of social justice they would have already torched Sendiks, Kopps, and, as a tool of Upper Middle Class Oppression, Whitefish Bay High School. They would be doing dope deals on the corners, targeting those affluent teens who infest the area until they are unemployable and they can start collecting welfare payments. Repeat in the next generation, because Social Justice.

    Because what’s to admire about people who do everything pretty much right? They make the Real People look…inadequate, and make the Real People feel bad about themselves, and angry. That cannot be praised by the Apostles of Social Justice and most certainly must not be held up as Good Examples of what people can accomplish if they work at it, because Racism and War on Women.

    Which attitude, of course is one of the reasons so many people would have even a Donald Trump as President rather than a sniggering, condescending Democrat, which ought to scare the Correct Thinkers silly, even into introspection, but that won’t happen. Introspection is for Ruling Class Oppressors in Whitefish Bay, not Real People.

  6. Casey says:

    Penrod really ran away with that one.

  7. Paul says:

    That may all be true. But Sendiks does have some nice deli selections.

  8. Penrod says:

    6.Paul; Yes, they do.

    I haven’t figured out why we should condescend to people who like and can afford such things as Sendiks and living in places like Whitefish Bay: We should be hoping that someday all people make the life decisions which let them afford to do and have what they want, whatever the specific choices might be.

    When we hope that kids growing up in poverty, in violence, in schools filled with kids who are dysfunctional because they grow up in neighborhoods with high numbers of dysfunctional adults, can beat the odds, take good educations from their schools, and achieve stable adult lives, what are we hoping for if not their own preferred versions of what people in places like Whitefish Bay have?

  9. AG says:

    What part of this story is uncharacteristic of Mr. Horne? The House Confidential column is like the gossip rag/tabloid portion of UrbanMilwaukee. It’s snark and borderline privacy invasion is the part of this site that, like the pages behind the cover of USWeekly, enough boorish people enjoy reading that they keep him cranking them out. Unfortunately it doesn’t do much for their journalistic reputation.

  10. Sam says:

    Penrod, this was a pretty gentle ribbing of what many outside of the town call “Whitefolk’s Bay”.

    If you can make gross generalizations about other towns/neighborhoods and their residents, why can’t everyone else? This is America, land of the free and home of the perpetually offended.

    There are many things to admire about the residents of Whitefish Bay. Thick skin isn’t one of them.

    I hope Trump makes good on his promise of draining the swamp in Washington. I look forward to what that might entail for the interests of Whitefish Bay residents.

  11. Penrod says:

    #10 Sam “this was a pretty gentle ribbing” As was mine in return. As you asked, “why can’t everyone else?” You appear to be suggesting that I am not included in ‘everyone’.

    Why is that?

    Michael Horne’s house stories frequently have a condescending air. Why shouldn’t people tease him about that? Are you worried about his thin skin? Why?

    Especially since as #9 AG said, this column could easily be a security risk to the subjects: general locations are described in every column, and every home is accompanied by multiple street views. Easy for a stalker, possibly a violent nut, to find. I don’t expect that to happen, but it only takes one such, just as it took only one to shoot up Sandy Hook elementary school. Some of that small group of violent mentally ill are attracted to prominent targets. This column helps find those targets and their families at home.

    The chance of any violent nuts using one of these columns is probably very, very small, but the columns are an invasion of privacy, and it only takes one violent nut/political radical to shoot up a house, or a family.

    Again, I think that is pretty unlikely, but it is something to think about. Titillating stories can have unwanted consequences from third parties. If Mr. Horne is willing to run that risk for his unwilling targets, fine, but he can take some ribbing in return.

  12. Sam says:

    I’m not worried about his thin skin at all, since he hasn’t responded to your criticisms of his article. I figure by publishing things, you accept the occasional critique.

    Indeed, the chance of something happening because of this article is incredibly small. Nothing Mr. Horne has published, as I’ve gathered, is private information. It’s all readily available to the public with a simple internet search. The accusations of “borderline” invasion of privacy are incorrect.

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