Michael Horne
House Confidential

Sen.Carpenter’s Rather Dull Duplex

His sided, south side home, in suburban-like Jackson Park, is a veritable pillar of middle-class respectability.

By - Jun 15th, 2014 01:11 pm
Tim Carpenter's Home

Tim Carpenter’s Home

On Monday, June 9th, Sen. Timothy W. Carpenter [D-3rd] issued a statement urging lame duck Republican Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen to drop his appeal of the federal court ruling which found Wisconsin’s ban on same sex marriages violated equal protection under the federal constitution. “I call on the Attorney General to do the right thing and drop his appeal,” Carpenter wrote. The day before, Carpenter had marched in the Pride Parade (see our photos of the parade) with Mayor Tom Barrett.

Carpenter, 54, has served in the legislature since 1984. He came out in 2001, the first member of the legislature to do so. He is also the principal sponsor of the bill to legislatively undo the state’s 2006 constitutional ban on marriage equality for gays, a measure which may be mooted by the decision of Judge Barbara Crabb.

His leadership has helped transform public perception of gay issues from the fringes of the gay ghetto to the mainstream, where gay married couples can now enjoy the many benefits of matrimony such as joint tax returns, and rights of survivorship for marital property such as real estate.

Carpenter’s residence, in the Jackson Park neighborhood in southwest Milwaukee,  is a good example of just how middle-classy a gay man’s home and neighborhood can be. This is the solid, stolid south side. Jackson Park was the childhood home of John Gurda, who has written about it extensively as a childhood utopia.

Carpenter lives in the upstairs unit of his two-story 1952 duplex. He became the “Life Estate Grantee” of the property in 1999 from the life estate grantor, his father, Kenneth Carpenter, who lived downstairs with the senator’s mother, Audrey. Both parents are now deceased. The home has a total of 2302 square feet of finished living space between the two units. The first level is 1,137 square feet, while the upper is 1,105 square feet. There are a total of 4 bedrooms and 3 baths apportioned between them, apparently somewhat unequally as far as plumbing fixtures are concerned.

The frame dwelling is clad in aluminum and vinyl siding, and is assessed at $139,400. It sits on a 40-foot by 120-foot lot assessed at $22,800, or $4.75 per square foot. The total assessment is $208,400. There is a detached 22-foot by 20-foot garage out back there around by the alley, don’tcha know. A giant spruce tree, probably dug on a vacation up north and transplanted into the woefully inadequate city lot, dominates the front yard and precludes any further discussion of landscaping. Let’s chop the thing down and talk matters over once we can get some light in here.

Taxes are $4,751.91 and are paid in full to County Treasurer Spencer Coggs, himself a House Confidential honoree as well as a former state senator and colleague of Carpenter.

Writing the check must have been painful for Carpenter, since Coggs beat him in the February 2012 election for City Treasurer.

The home has a brand new gas boiler to power its forced-air heating plant. The dwelling is also air-conditioned throughout to provide comfort through the torrid weeks of summer in Milwaukee’s southwestern savannah. The dwelling also features a rec room. Can you get more solidly middle-class than that?

About Tim Carpenter

Carpenter was first elected to the assembly in 1984 at age 24, moving on to the Senate in 2012 where he replaced Brian Burke in the seat that was once held by John O. Norquist, who later became mayor.

Carpenter’s mother was a telephone operator and his father worked at the Falk Corp. Carpenter was born at St. Francis Hospital and baptized and confirmed at St. Alexander’s Church. He graduated from Pulaski High School and UW-Milwaukee, and has a master’s degree from the LaFollette Institute in Madison.

He seems content in the Senate, except for his habit of losing to fellow senators in primaries for other races. In addition to his loss to Coggs in the quest for the City Treasurer’s seat, he was defeated in 2004 for congress by Sen. Gwen Moore.

Before becoming a career politician, Carpenter worked at Rustler Steak House and Federal Express.

Carpenter, it may be safely said, is a liberal, who in the past has garnered a 97 percent rating from the AFL-CIO and 91% from the Sierra Club versus a 31 percent rating by the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce and a 0 percent rating by Wisconsin Right to Life, an organization that clearly does not grade on a curve.

During the protests over Act 10, Carpenter, joined 13 other Democratic State Senators, leaving the state to deny the State Senate a quorum on Gov. Scott Walker‘s ultimately successful bill virtually eliminating collective bargaining by public employees. Reacting to revelations from a prank phone call on Gov. Walker, Carpenter called upon Walker to resign. Walker was unpersuaded.

The Rundown

  • Location: City of Milwaukee
  • Neighborhood: Jackson Park
  • Subdivision: Reynold’s Park
  • Year Built: 1952
  • Style: “2.0 Story Duplex New Style”
  • Size: 2,302 square feet
  • Fireplaces: Zero
  • Air Conditioning: Central
  • Rec Room: 1
  • Assessment: Land $22,800 [$4.75 s.f.] Improvements $139,400; Total: $162,200. [Historical High Assessment — 2008 at $208,400]
  • Walk Score: 58 out of 100 “Somewhat Walkable”
  • Transit Score: 45 out of 100. “Some Transit”
  • Street Smart Walk Score:  45 out of 100, “Car Dependent,” ranking him below 61 previous House Confidential honorees.
  • Distance to House Confidential Honoree Historian John Gurda’s childhood home: About 4 blocks.

How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is about 5 miles from City Hall. The southwest location gives Carpenter a head start on the commute to Madison, which is only 78 miles from his house.

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4 thoughts on “House Confidential: Sen.Carpenter’s Rather Dull Duplex”

  1. Observer says:

    “There is a detached 22-foot by 20-foot garage out back there around by the alley, don’tcha know.” That’s pretty condescending. I moved to the South Side some 35 years ago and never heard “don’tcha know” except in the Shepherd, Milwaukee magazine, and now completing the trifecta, Urban Milwaukee. I like brats, don’t bowl, and my IPA beers so I guess I’m only a 2/3 south side stereotype. Grrr.

  2. Luci Klebar says:

    From a constituent’s perspective, I don’t care if Mr. Carpenter’s duplex is “dull” to use your words, if his intellect is sharp and his moral compass is strong. Headline seems mean spirited to me, or is it just in jest?

    He inherited his family home and has chosen to remain there, true to his roots. His home is “solidly middle class” as you described it, is there something wrong with that as well? Were he to live in a flamboyant, ostentatious home, would he be maligned for that by Urban Milwaukee? I’d prefer to know that our elected representatives live in simple homes instead of living in ostentatious mansions most Americans could never afford. It sounds like Tim Carpenter’s family values are in tact. I don’t know him, but maybe he is one of the few politicians remaining today who humbly recognizes that he works for the people, and lives simply to reflect that, living otherwise would not reflect the constituency whom he represents.

  3. Andy says:

    Observer/Luci… have you two never read one of Mr. Horne’s House Confidential before? Offensive and condescending commentary is his shtick. He’s being clever, duh!

    By the way, “…fringes of the gay ghetto…” I… um… wait, what?

  4. Observer says:

    Clever? That’s as clever as those that call us NDN’s “Chief”. But now I get it. Haw haw haw.

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