Michael Horne
House Confidential

Russell Stamper’s Century-Old Sherman Blvd. Home

The ever-busy county supervisor and aldermanic candidate also handles rental evictions on the side.

By - Apr 14th, 2014 03:14 pm
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The home of Russell Stamper II. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The home of Russell Stamper II. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A century ago this August, J. Wild took out a permit for an $8,000 brick veneered single-family dwelling on an ample 70 ft x 128 ft. lot at what was then 885 Sherman Boulevard. It was one of the first homes built in what is now the North Sherman Boulevard Historic District, where construction of better-than-average (and occasionally remarkable) homes continued until about 1935. The two-story modern bungalow was designed by architect Robert H. Schmitz, who also gave us the home at 2217 N. Sherman Blvd.

Today the Wild House is a duplex owned by Milwaukee County Supervisor and aldermanic candidate Russell W. Stamper, II, who occupies one half of the duplex with his wife Latoya Kendall, and their young son, R. W. Stamper III.

Sherman Boulevard was an early 20th century creation of the Milwaukee Parks Commission, connecting Sherman and Washington Parks, much as E. Newberry Blvd. was created to link Lake and Riverside Parks. The boulevards “served, in a sense, as linear parks,” according to the neighborhood’s Historic Designation Study Report. Sherman Boulevard accordingly drew the attention of prosperous merchants and manufacturers who hired architects and builders to create some substantial homes, like this one, that, with later additions includes 3,139 square feet of finished living space along with another 2,000 square feet of unfinished basement and attic space. The home sold in 1920 for $15,000, and again a year later for $16,500 when it was bought by C. A. Loew, who was involved in the nascent and booming business of being a heating and ventilating engineer / contractor.

In 1925 the handsome home was bought by Eleanor Riemer Naulin for $22,000. She was a musician who gave a luncheon “in the Surf” on October 7th 1928 that made it into the newspaper. The Tuesday Musical Club held its March 31st, 1936 meeting in this very home with Mrs. Riemer as hostess while Mrs. F. A. Diefenthaeler had the burden of leading a discussion on “Thematic Appreciation.” By that time the home had been improved with a $1,600 two-story music room and bedroom.

In May, 1943, with the world at war and with the nation facing a persistent housing shortage due to increased population, immigration and lack of Depression-era construction, the single family home with its music room was converted to a 4-family apartment building. In 1948 it was bought by J. E. Taxman, who later sold the income property to Mr. H. P. Schild, who installed a new heating system in 1952 for $1,880 and three years later paid $275 to convert the oil system to gas.

By 1970, the owner lived in the lower front unit with its fireplace and music room while the back apartment rented for $90 a month, and the two upstairs units drew $80 and $90 each. The rents included use of range and refrigerators, which were not always included in Milwaukee rental properties, to the surprise of many renters over the years.

In 1973 the home with 4 one-bedroom apartments sold for $37,400, or 11 times annual rental income. In 1984 it was offered at $79,900.  Fireplace “in owner’s unit,” the real estate agent wrote, adding that there was an “incinerator (Kerner) in the basement.” The home also has a clothes chute.

By 2003 the home was pulling in a gross annual rent of $5,400 with operating expenses of $1,200, leaving an operating profit of $4,200 before taxes of $2,612. The real estate listing said, “lots of character + needs TLC. Lower owner did not finish rehab work. Oh Look a side drive and two car garage. Near parks, churches and transportation. Property sold in as is condition no warranties.” It was listed for sale at $114,900, and sold on February 28th, 2003 for $100,000, as-is, no warranties.

“Do a class change” the assessor wrote in 2004 after James Q. Adams, the new owner, proposed converting it into a duplex. “Assume in very good condition for rehab to duplex,” the assessor wrote.

By 2007 the newly created duplex was bought, near the height of the market, by its current owners, who paid $240,000 for the property. It is assessed today at $12,000 for the land ($1.33/s.f.) and $174,500 for the improvements for a total of $186,500. Taxes on the 9-bedroom, 4-bath, one fireplace duplex are $5,595.86 and are paid in full.

About Russell W. Stamper, II

Russell Stamper II

Russell Stamper II

Russell Wright Stamper, II, 37, was elected as Milwaukee County 5th district supervisor in 2012 replacing outgoing  Board Chair Lee Holloway. Stamper, the son of retired judge Russell W. Stamper, Sr., is now seeking the 15th district aldermanic seat vacated by former Common Council President and House Confidential honoree Willie L. Hines, Jr. He faces Eyon Biddle, a former supervisor who gave up his seat in an unsuccessful quest to replace Hines in 2012. District residents may cast their vote for the candidate of their choice early at City Hall weekdays from Monday, April 14th through Friday, April 25th. Friday April 18th is Good Friday, a city holiday, but the Election Commission office on the 5th floor of City Hall will be open for its regular hours. If Stamper wants to wait until election day, April 29th, to cast his ballot, he may do so at Hi-Mount Boulevard School.

Stamper is a graduate of Messmer High School and of Alabama State University. He received an MBA from Cardinal Stritch University, and has a certificate in Professional Grant Writing from UWM. He has been a program supervisor for New Concept Self Development Center and worked for the Social Development Commission before assuming his current job. He is also a referee in the Milwaukee Public Schools basketball program.

Stamper’s home seems to be a target for littering, judging from service requests made to the Department of Neighborhood Services. On July 16, 2013, the city inspector noted “debris, litter and furniture at the alley. Tenants from across the alley from N. 44th have dumped 4 box springs, mattresses, leaning up against Supervisor Stamper’s garage.” Earlier, the inspector noted “debris, litter: Large Tires; Debris / Litter / Large Items. LOG PIECES IN ALLEY.” Whew! What a cleanup chore after a long day at the courthouse.

Like many motorists pulled over by the cops, Stamper was able, in court, to convert an improper passing ticket into a “Defective Speedometer,” citation in 2009. But generally, when he is in court, it is as plaintiff in eviction cases for renters in housing presumably owned by the Stamper family and held by RWS II Investments, Active Properties and S+S Holdings. Provided he finds tenants who pay their rent, this may provide a way for Stamper to survive the pay cuts that loom for supervisors in 2016, though he probably also stands a good chance of stepping up to the big-bucks world of a Milwaukee alderman.

The Rundown

  • Location: City of Milwaukee
  • Neighborhood: Uptown
  • Subdivision: Markham’s Addition
  • Year Built: 1914
  • Style: Milwaukee Bungalow Duplex
  • Size: 3,139 total square feet of finished living space, (1,675 sq. ft. first floor, 1,364 sq. ft. second floor)
  • Fireplaces: 1
  • Rec Room: No, but it does have a music room
  • Taxes: $5,595.88 Paid in Full
  • Assessment: Land $5,000 [$1.33 s.f.] Improvements $174,500; Total: $186,500
  • Walk Score: 75 out of 100, “Very Walkable.” Washington Park is just blocks away.
  • Transit Score: 53 out of 100, “Good Transit.” But not nearly as good as a century ago.
  • Street Smart Walk Score:  79 out of 100, “Very Walkable” Just steps away from the playing fields of the Milwaukee Bicycle Polo Club at Washington Park.
  • Aldermanic District: 15th.

How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is 4.3 miles from City Hall, in the event that Stamper is able to relocate his business address there.

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