Michael Horne
House Confidential

Gwen Moore’s Modest Bungalow

The congresswoman's brick veneered, north-side duplex was converted into a less-spartan, single-family home.

By - Nov 17th, 2013 01:38 pm
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Gwen Moore's house. Photo by Michael Horne.

Gwen Moore’s house. Photo by Michael Horne.

Twenty-one years ago this month, Representative to the Assembly Gwen Moore was in a hurry to find a home for her family. The two-term representative had just been elected to the State Senate and needed to live in the district.

So she bought this classic Milwaukee brick-veneered bungalow duplex in the Rufus King neighborhood, not far from 20th and Capitol Dr., for $44,900 on November 1st, 1992.

The purchase got the attention of the city assessor, who had been following the home, which had been on the market for more than a year.

In July, 1992, the assessor noted, “this is a duplex being used as a single family. Accepted offer $44,800 as of 5/14/1992.”

In May, 1993, he revisited the home. “Sale financing fell through on above offer. House put back on market and purchased by State Representative Gwen Moore. She said she was under some pressure to find home after election. She needed to live in area. High Sale?? House is still being used as single family.”

High sale, or no, the home is still owned by Gwen Moore, a Democrat, who has served as the member of congress for Wisconsin’s 4th District since 2005.

The story-and-a-half home has 1,170 square feet of living space on the first floor, and 830 square feet in the half-story above. In total it has 5 bedrooms and two baths, with a detached, three-car, 600-square-foot unused garage in back.

The home was built in 1927 for C. A. Krause at a cost of $6,500 in People’s Building and Loan Association Subdivision #7, close to the major arterial street of W. Capitol Drive, where much of the city’s second-generation German community was moving into well-built homes, some quite substantial.

The 26 foot by 42 foot Moore residence was on the lower end of the scale, as attested to by its duplex nature. Other duplexes and virtually identical single-family homes were constructed in large numbers in a swath along Capitol Drive reaching from Whitefish Bay to Shorewood on the east all the way west to Wauwatosa. The Bungalow Belt was busily being constructed from the end of World War I until the dawn of the Great Depression, when virtually all residential construction in the city was halted until the end of World War II.

The bungalows were tidy, neat, easy to maintain, constructed of standardized components and built with the latest conveniences, including a dedicated drain for the kitchen ice-box. The home was constructed in 17 weeks, including time for the plaster to dry.

Moore’s home, on its 40 foot by 139 foot lot, apparently served as a duplex for C. A. Krause and his family.

By 1959, absentee landlord Mrs. Shirley Bentzien rented out the two units to tenants, charging $85 a month for the lower, and $75 for the upper unit, both heated by a new Honor-Bilt gas furnace by Crane.

Clara Fischer paid $18,000 for the home in 1960. When she offered it for sale in 1970 for $20,000, it was considered to be in “excellent condition.”

Walter Longmire owned the home in 1973, by which time it had settled into its status of “one family building.” The second floor had 3 bedrooms, including “1 walk thru former L.R.,” as the assessor noted. In 1990 Lois Longmire, presumably the relict of the late Walter, installed a freezer in the basement.

Not much has changed in the intervening years since Moore bought the home; the only exterior change visible is an apparently quite recent addition of a metal roof where once asphalt had lain.

It is not possible to date the metal roof, (a rare style here for reasons that cannot be fathomed; metal roofs are commonplace in many temperate areas of the country. Baraboo, for example, is loaded with them). We can’t put a date on the roof, since it doesn’t show up on the city permit records, unlike the Honor-Bilt furnace, the ice-box drain and the outlet for the freezer down in the basement.

The landscaping of the home is notable in its simplicity. Somebody goes out and mows the lawn, and that’s about it. But nobody coiled up the garden hose that lies on the path to the garage. Don’t worry about Gwen tripping on it, though, since the garage is evidently unused, with weeds in evidence outside its three doors.

Fun Fact: As a representative, Gwen Moore has a whole library for her and her colleagues just .3 mile away from her Washington, D.C. office.  It is a pleasant 7 minute hike from Moore’s Rayburn House Office Building suite to the Library of Congress reading room where she can catch up on her research.

At home, the hike is even easier, since Moore lives on the same block as the Milwaukee Public Library’s Atkinson Avenue branch.

The neighborhood, once filled with storefronts and now filled with storefront churches, also offers a special treat in the form of Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant, Milwaukee’s legendary Soul Food palace, and a must-stop for politicians, none of whom are lucky enough to live as nearby as does Representative Gwendolynne S. Moore.

THE RUNDOWN

  • Style: Brick-veneered Milwaukee Bungalow Duplex
  • Location: City of Milwaukee
  • Neighborhood: Rufus King
  • Subdivision: People’s Building and Loan Subdivision #7
  • Walk Score: 63 out of 100. “Somewhat Walkable.”
  • Street Smart Walk Score: 58 out of 100 “Somewhat Walkable” It’s a shame there are no good grocery stores here. Gwen does her shopping at the Metro Market when she is in town.
  • Transit Score: 56 out of 100. “Good Transit.” There are 12 nearby bus lines.
  • Size: 2,000 square feet.
  • Year Built: 1927
  • Assessed Value: Land — $4,900; Improvements — $73,200; Total $78,100. Historic High: 2008 — $113,100.
  • Taxes are $4,077.07 and are paid in full.

How Milwaukee Is It? The home is 4.8 miles from Moore’s district office in the Third Ward at 219 N. Milwaukee St., easily reachable by the #19 bus and its virtual door-to-door service from the Moore Manse. If Moore wants to gossip about Congress, she can find a sympathetic ear in that of former Rep. Tom Barrett, whose City Hall office is just 4.12 miles away by foot.

ABOUT GWEN MOORE 

Since 2005, Moore, 62, has served as representative from Wisconsin’s Fourth Congressional District, which includes Milwaukee, South Milwaukee, Cudahy, St. Francis and part of West Allis. She is the first woman to represent the district and the first African American elected to Congress from Wisconsin.

Moore was once a single mother and welfare recipient and has always been particularly attuned to issues affecting poor people. She is the eighth of nine children; her father was a factory worker and her mother a public school teacher. She attended North Division High School where she was a student council president. Prior to running for office, she served as a VISTA volunteer, as a neighborhood development strategist for the city of Milwaukee, and as a state employee with the Department of Employment Relations, the Department of Health and Social Services and the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

Moore was elected to the State Assembly in 1989 and served two terms, and then was elected to the State Senate, where she served from 1993 to 2005. She has proven to be a formidable vote getter, winning her first term to an open state senate seat over then-Rep. Louis Fortis in a district that had a white majority at the time, becoming the state’s first black state senator in history. She defeated a strong field of Democratic candidates (led by attorney Matt Flynn) to win an open congressional seat in 2005, triumphing despite the endorsement Flynn received from the Shepherd Express, which was by then owned, published and edited by Moore’s one-time opponent Lou Fortis.

In Congress, Moore has been a champion of women’s rights and has gotten high rankings from abortion-rights groups, the ACLU, environmental groups and unions.  In March 2012, during the House debate over re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act, she was remarkably frank, revealing her own experience of being sexually assaulted and raped as a child and as an adult. But she has also raised eyebrows for supporting legislation lobbied for by high rollers on Wall Street

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3 thoughts on “House Confidential: Gwen Moore’s Modest Bungalow”

  1. David says:

    4.2 miles walk by foot? That’s kind of a long walk…

    Indeed a shame there is no grocery store nearby.

  2. Penrod says:

    “Assessed Value:…Total $78,100…Taxes are $4,077.07”

    No wonder Milwaukee has a crappy economy. Those aren’t taxes: they’re rent, for which one receives what? Great schools? Yeah, right. Low crime? Uh… The psychic joy of living with other economic masochists? Ah. Yes. OK. ’cause we all know it is far more satisfying to drive the scum sucking rich out of the community so they won’t provide jobs for the rest of us. People who create jobs are seriously anti-social and probably should be imprisoned…if we must tolerate their existence at all. Until then, we’ll have to settle for encouraging them to settle in low tax counties with good schools and low crime rates.

  3. AG says:

    Something is certainly amiss here… 4k for a 78k assessment does not equal the mil rate.

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