Michael Horne
House Confidential

Milwaukee Booster Lives in… Shorewood

OnMilwaukee.com co-owner Jeff Sherman and his wife have a Colonial home in the suburbs, but he tries to downplay this.

By - Dec 2nd, 2014 01:51 pm
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The Sherman house. Photo by Michael Horne.

The Sherman house. Photo by Michael Horne.

The Village of Shorewood, with just over 1.5 square miles of area is said to be the most densely populated community in the state of Wisconsin, with about 9,000 residents per square mile. It was served by streetcar in the late 19th century, when it was a popular tourist destination for people who wanted to get out of the city for an afternoon at Luedeman’s Amusement Park, (now Hubbard Park). Back then this was out in the country; the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, which define Shorewood’s west and east boundaries, were lined with large estates and farms.

Traveling north along busy N. Oakland Ave. today the change from Milwaukee to Shorewood is imperceptible, save for minor variations in street, curb and gutter design, signage and lighting.

Many of the structures are built right up to the sidewalk.

So, in a way, Shorewood is not a suburb in the cul-de-sac sense of the word, but in another way it very much is a suburb, with a quaint village-style government, its own library, schools and police department and fire protection from the very suburban North Shore Fire Department, one of the region’s few intergovernmental agencies.

Then again, the village has numerous multiple family buildings — some ten stories tall — which is more urban than suburban. But the tallest occupied structure in the village is St. Robert’s Catholic Church, the steeple of which pierces the sky.  New development includes mixed-use, multi-story buildings that would generally be anathema in the North Shore. It’s easy to get to by bus — very urban.

And, it tends to vote Democratic, which is hardly suburban. (Mary Burke got 72 percent of the vote against Scott Walker earlier this month.) On the other hand, Shorewood was the childhood home of Chief Justice William Rehnquist, who was very Republican and very suburban.

But the community shows its urban, Democratic side in that it never bothered to rename its generic Shorewood High School after its distinguished native son. In fact the Zucker Brothers of Hollywood fame, likewise locals, have a better shot at that distinction.

Furthering the suburban / urban paradox, it calls itself “One of Wisconsin’s Great Urban Villages.” Shorewood has a 100-property Business Improvement District that is “Diverse, Dynamic and Distinctive.” Many of the businesses lack parking, yet are doing fine. That’s urban.

Since 2013, this urban suburb has been the home of Jeffrey Sherman, who is known as a co-founder (with Andy Tarnoff) of OnMilwaukee.com, the “hyperlocal, independently‑owned for 16+ years, digital only,” website that calls itself “Milwaukee’s Daily Magazine.”

However, Sherman, a Wauwatosa native, still claims Milwaukee as his residence on his Facebook page. He kind of fudges the issue on his OnMilwaukee bio, where, as he writes, “he owns a condo in Downtown and lives in greater Milwaukee.” (The one bedroom, one bath, city condo, now assessed at $180,000 was purchased in 2004 for $207,000.)

For a guy who makes his living constantly touting the greatness of Milwaukee, “OnShorewood,” just doesn’t have the right ring, does it?

The move of Sherman, his wife Stephanie Otto Sherman (former owner of the Lela Boutique in the very urban Historic Third Ward) and their two children coincided with the children nearing school age, which is often when couples decide they’d prefer suburban schools.

So, off to Shorewood it was for the Shermans, who found their 1925 home in May, 2013, paying $245,000 for it.

The 1,341 square foot home is even smaller than the Shermans’ downtown condo, and likewise has only one bathroom, but it has three bedrooms, sparing the need for half the family to sleep on the living room sofa.

The 2-story with attic residence is clad in vinyl siding that a previous owner installed in 2001 at a cost of $18,152. The house shares its 5,000 square foot lot with a 22 ft by 22 ft garage, built in 2006 at a cost of $9,700. It cost an additional $550 to tear down the old one. The family can relax in a 2007 vintage 306 square foot patio, installed for $3,100.

There is a basement of 690 square feet, a 700 square foot first floor topped by a 641 square foot second floor, beneath an identically sized unfinished attic.

The home is served by a water heater installed in 1999 (getting old!) and has central air conditioning for those days when the prevailing winds do not make it “cooler near the lake.” The warm air heat is powered by gas.

The assessor says the home’s kitchen is “good,” while the bath and the remainder of the interior merit “average” ratings. Overall, the assessor gives the place a “C+” grade. This might sound a bit low, but then again, the Village of Shorewood is quite picky, mind you. (As the village neared its century mark, and with a large inventory of older homes, Shorewood mandated pre-sale building inspections as a means to preserve property values in the community.)

From the street, the Sherman home is a study in symmetry, with a central window poised above the building’s entry, flanked by windows on either side. The garage has an alley entrance, which is not a commonplace in this village. A curiously winding walk leads to an access door of the garage. The entrance to the residence, like the front one, is centrally located. There is even a milk chute right next to the door — talk about an anachronism!

The symmetry extends to the landscaping in the front, in which foundation plantings are arrayed like pillow cushions on a red-dyed shredded bark sofa. The facade is marred by a downspout running near its center, collecting runoff from the roof and the pedimented-porch and discharging it right onto the front lawn. An ornamental crabapple tree — a relic of an earlier ethos in landscape design — has been subjected to saw and shears rather haphazardly over the years. It is now time for the ax to do its deed.

The Rundown

  • Location: Village of Shorewood
  • Neighborhood: All of Shorewood is one big, happy neighborhood
  • Subdivision: J[ohn] H[arvey] Myers and H[arry] B. Walker’s Subdivision.
  • Year Built: 1925
  • Style: 2-story Colonial with attic
  • Size of unit: 1,341 square feet
  • Fireplaces: One.
  • Taxes: $6,003.56  Paid in Full
  • Assessment: Land $71,400 [$14.28 / s.f.], Improvements $188,700; Total: $260,100.
  • Walk Score: 73 out of 100. “Very Walkable”

How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is about 4.6 miles from Milwaukee City Hall and 4.65 miles from the downtown offices of OnMilwaukee.com.

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23 thoughts on “House Confidential: Milwaukee Booster Lives in… Shorewood”

  1. Rory Bellows says:

    Is this column meant to read as a “fuck you” to the homeowner? It’s pretty low to critique someone’s home and borderline unethical to dox these people. The tavern column is usually pretty interesting and positive. I don’t understand the tone of this at all.

  2. Beer Baron says:

    The only proper thing to do is annex Shorewood at this point!

  3. Tyrell Track Master says:

    Dudes – I think the critique is tongue in cheek. Shorewood is legitimately urban and as far as I’m concerned a defacto part of the Urban Milwaukee experience. So is most of West Allis and Wauwatosa for that matter. Post.

  4. Neal Brenard says:

    Hope Jeff doesn’t mind the spotlight on his house here in Shorewood, but it’s an accurate review of the Village as an extension of the upper east side of the city. The article doesn’t mention that Shorewood was known as East Milwaukee until it incorporated as a village in 1900. It’s a small home, but at $245k last year, not a bad deal; the schools alone here are worth the price.

  5. Diane Buck says:

    Michael, I hope this is a tongue in cheek comment about your competition in the local cyber world. If not, you are far off base.

    Most of us in Shorewood think of ourselves as part of Milwaukee and put that on our correspondence and Facebook. Although we might live and/or work in Shorewood we are urban in our outlook and committed to making Milwaukee better. Shorewood is definitely an extension of the east side of the city.

    You didn’t mention the importance of UWM in determining our schools and voting habits. Its influence on the village is huge.

  6. Frank Galvan says:

    The intent of the article seemed to be a snarky cheap shot but, perhaps unintentionally, it did a nice job of describing what a great place Shorewood is to live and raise a family.

  7. Rick says:

    What is wrong with him living in Shorewood? He could throw a rock and hit Milwaukee from his house. Shorewood is a great place to live and raise a family. Michael Horne you seem to be giving the middle finger to this man for wanting to live somewhere that is safe and has good schools.

  8. Steve says:

    I’ve been very happy with the articles I’ve been reading in UrbanMilwaukee up to this point. I don’t particularly see the need for this type of hit piece. I’m more interested in where someone lives after the gerrymandered boundaries were put in place. You’ve been doing so well. Refocus.

  9. Frank says:

    Someone told me to read this article, otherwise I would never have known this amateur website exists. And after reading it, I can only draw one conclusion: the difference between a journalist and an A-hole is that a journalist will call the person he/she is featuring and allow the person to respond. Otherwise, you’re just an A-hole. Nowhere in this report does it say you reached out to Jeff or his wife for comment, yet you post all details (which are public record, by the way – hardly any journalism involved there) about his house, take photos of it and try to incite some kind of cyber-riot because a guy who employs 75 people in the Milwaukee AREA and co-owns a successful web-based news and entertainment site lives on the outskirts of “Milwaukee?” You’re just an A-hole, hardly a journalist. Please stop. You’re embarrassing yourself, Milwaukee and your Internet “publication” (and I use that word very lightly).

  10. Kyle says:

    All of the House Confidential pieces are like this. Horne openly hates the suburbs and uses this column as a chance to rip into anyone who lives differently than his ideal. Lots of us agree with much of what Frank just wrote regarding Horne.

  11. PMD says:

    I used to work for Jeff at OMC. He’s a great guy who passionately loves Milwaukee. He champions the city all the time. This story is idiotic and mean-spirited. I totally agree with Frank.

  12. alba says:

    Take it easy Shorewoodites. He’s not bashing your village. Try to recognize humor in written form.

  13. Andy says:

    The mean spirited “humor” is not limited to this one article. Mr. Horne regularly uses his “humorous” sarcasm on this column to insult, demean, and belittle people. It’s a black eye on an otherwise great website.

  14. Hereiam says:

    Mr. Michael Horne’s sense of humor is unique, but it is just that humor.

    These articles are great because they (1) are entertaining to read, (2) provide great historical tidbits on many under-reported neighborhoods within the city, and (3) give you a glimpse of where notable local figures actually live. More than once, I’ve been surprised to learn that a House Confidential Honoree lives not far from my house.

  15. PMD says:

    I think it’s pretty useless and dumb, but then again I never read them. I only read this because I used to work with Jeff. There are probably other, better ways to provide historical tidbits on under-reported neighborhoods.

  16. Tim says:

    If there are this many comments, they must be doing something right.

  17. RacineTom says:

    Where does Milwaukee lover Charlie Sykes reside?

  18. Kyle says:

    RacineTom, let me Google that for you: Mequon.

  19. Jack says:

    Funny how some of these house confidentials get no comments, yet others get a ton of them.

  20. City Spec says:

    And where does the Journal Editorial Board live? You know, the ones who graciously impart their wisdom about what Milwaukeean’s “Must” do.

  21. Bill says:

    What’s interesting about this is how Milwaukee gets all in a lather about attracting millennials to the area. I’ve always thought that was sort of a waste of time because the minute they had some money and their kids reached school age they would beat it out of Milwaukee as quickly as possible. If you can’t keep a guy like Jeff Sherman then what hope is there?

    I read a recent article in the BizTimes about OnMilwaukee and they employ about 15 people according to them and not 75.

  22. Bill says:

    It is also interesting that people who live in Waukesha County are bashed quite a bit as being racist or that they live there because they are afraid of minorities. Yet, many of the people in Shorewood and Whitefish Bay pat themselves on the back as being enlightened when we all know that they are paying a huge premium to live there. Wonder what the % of minority owned homes is in Shorewood.

  23. AC says:

    The point of this is utterly lost on me. Shit on a guy for running a business that does nothing but advocate for Milwaukee, publish his address, his home value, who lives in the home, and what its like inside. Tongue in Cheek or not, this offers zero value, and nothing good could possibly come to anyone due to this information being published. My only experience with Mike Horne was during Downer Bike Races. Rakishly dressed in a blue blazer and gold trousers. He was wildly intoxicated, wandering uninvited into peoples’ homes during the races, babbling incoherently to children when they asked him who he was and why they were in their kitchen, stumbling to the next victim when shoo’d off each premises. I’d say he was researching his column, but he most assuredly couldn’t remember whose home he was in. This column is idiotic.

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