Michael Horne
House Confidential

Ben Handelman’s Nautical Outpost

Fox 6 anchor watches for ships for his Big Boats blog from a classic lakeside apartment.

By - Dec 21st, 2016 10:38 am
Lodgewood Apartments. Photo by Michael Horne.

Lodgewood Apartments. Photo by Michael Horne.

Ben Handelman calls himself an “Anchor-Reporter-Adventurer for Fox 6 Milwaukee”

Handelman is from the mountains of northwest Connecticut, and graduated from his home state’s Quinnipiac College in 2007. His first reporting assignment was in Springfield, Illinois, followed by a stint in Champaign Illinois.

In April 2011 he took his current job in Milwaukee where he is now the weekend anchor-reporter for the station.

Although Connecticut is a maritime state, the hills of the Berkshire Range are a world removed from such coastal communities as Mystic Seaport. The closest the region comes to a nautical theme lies in its deep forests, where the White Pine (pinus strobis) was prized for its use in shipbuilding. As early as 1691 it was illegal for anybody but the King to cut down a tree greater than 24 inches diameter, so valuable was the wood to the British Admiralty. The King’s monopoly held for 125 years, until the American Revolution.

Still Handelman-of-the-Woods has a passion for large ships, which could hardly be indulged in the forests of the Nutmeg State, or the prairies of the Land of Lincoln.

Yet it might come as a surprise to nearly everybody in New England that from his Milwaukee home in America’s heartland, far from the roiling sea, Handelman is able to indulge his passion for observing 1,000-foot vessels.

Handelman lives in the Lodgewood Apartments, a 1954 high rise located across from Juneau Park and just south of the Milwaukee founder’s namesake avenue. It has fine views of the harbor and breakwater, and Handelman, from his 1,063-square foot-apartment or the building’s rooftop deck, takes advantage of them. Does he ever.

It is from a southeast-facing window on a high floor that Handelman observes and posts about the activity of large ships on the Great Lakes. He shares his bounty on a blog called “Big Boats Milwaukee,” which he subtitles as “Sharing pictures of Milwaukee’s vibrant shipping industry one photo at a time.”

Should the good ship Federal Biscay (656 ft., 20,789 tons), or the Radcliffe Latimore (902 ft., 24,105 tons) sail into town, as they did in the last week of November, Handelman or his fellow boat enthusiasts are sure to share a story about the event, with photos and details about the ships’ passages. The site has recently reached its 5,000 visitor mark, and Handelman keeps it up-to-date.

As he jokes, “when I’m not blogging about boats I can often be found reporting the news.”

November 14th was a notable day for Handelman. The Federal Bering, a cousin of the Biscay, sailed into the harbor for the first time since May. The Hong Kong-based ship bore a load of steel beams from Luxembourg to be used in the construction of the new Bucks arena.

Handelman raced to his keyboard, hit the “Caps Lock” button and fired off this salvo for his Big Boats readers:

“The Milwaukee Bucks invited our cameras down to the port today to watch as 50 foot steel beams that will one day be the new Bucks arena were unloaded from The Federal Bering.  Besides blogging about boats, I also like following the Bucks, so today was a good day! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a lot more steel shipments out my window in the days and months ahead.”

The Lodgewood Apartments

The Lodgewood Apartments building is a 13-story, 76-unit structure on the lake just south of E. Juneau Ave., and across from Juneau Park. It was constructed in the International Style in 1954 by Milwaukee architect Fitzhugh Scott and is considered to be Milwaukee’s first modern residential high rise.

It was constructed after the city enacted ordinances mandating off-street parking for multi-unit residential structures, which distinguishes the building from its ancestors. There is a ramp leading to underground parking, as well as semi-enclosed parking spaces on the first floor.

Its location is ideal not only for watching 1,000 foot vessels of 39,000 tons burthen, but is also located near shopping, entertainment and other downtown attractions. The “Knick” is across the street, and whatever they are calling the Astor Hotel bar these days is just a block away, as is Monica’s on Astor.

The landlord’s real estate poet offers this tantalizing description of the apartment house and its environs:

“…located on Milwaukee’s lake front – walking distance to Juneau Village Shopping Center, featuring the flag ship grocery store; Metro Market, also walking distance to Northwestern Mutual Life, Milwaukee School of Engineering, downtown shopping districts restaurants and the lake front. Near the bus line to University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee.

Each apartment features expansive windows with breathtaking views of Lake Michigan and/or Downtown Milwaukee. Incredible Rooftop patio.”

Apartments range from one to two bedrooms. Units have parquet floors, and heat is included in the rent, which starts at about $1,195. There is also a rooftop deck for seasonal gatherings.

The building was built by the Sendik family and remained in its hands for many decades. It sold in January 2015 to Dan Katz, who paid $9.65 million for the building.

The Lodgewood has some fancy neighbors in addition to the fancy saloons. The building immediately to the south is a surviving 1870s mini-mansion that is now owned by Immanuel Presbyterian Church, an 1871 structure that is also on the block.

Immediately to the west is the 1850s James S. Brown house, one of a score of pre-Civil War structures remaining in this city. It was built for James S. Brown, Wisconsin’s first Attorney General, a member of Congress and Milwaukee’s 11th mayor. That structure was also once home of Henry Clay Payne, a traction executive who was chosen as Postmaster General by Theodore Roosevelt. The block also includes the historic building housing the David Barnett Gallery, which has been covered in a previous House Confidential. Another structure is a pleasant, but undistinguished apartment building.

The Lodgewood apparently retains its original fenestration. The windows are modular units of stainless steel and have held up quite nicely. They probably are of superior quality to modern replacements, especially aesthetically. The building is otherwise masonry-clad, with a few post-Deco touches like a curved canopy over the front door, some circular voids, and a tasteful lobby paneled in wood.

Photo Gallery

The Rundown – Lodgewood Apartments

  • Owner: Waverly LLC. Daniel J. Katz, Registered Agent
  • Location: Milwaukee
  • Neighborhood: Yankee Hill
  • Subdivision: Subdivision of Block 105.
  • Year Built: 1954
  • Architect: Fitzhugh Scott
  • Style: Milwaukee’s first modern residential high-rise. Includes underground parking, perhaps the first such in a new structure.
  • Size: The building is approximately 10,500 sq. ft. on each floor, making the 14-story building approximately 144,900 sq. ft. Handelman’s apartment is 1,063 sq. ft.
  • Fireplaces: No
  • Rec Room: No, but the real party is on the rooftop deck
  • Assessment: Land: 16,742 sq. ft. lot is valued at $1,886,500 ($112.68/sq. ft.). Improvements: $6,272,500. Total assessed value: $8,159,000. Owner purchased 76-unit building on 01-15-2015 for $9,650,000
  • Taxes: $234,815.75, paid in full
  • Garbage Collection Route and Schedule: Private collection
  • Polling Location: Frank P. Zeidler Municipal Building, 841 N. Broadway
  • Aldermanic District: 4th; Robert Bauman
  • County Supervisor District: 5th; Marcelia Nicholson
  • Walk Score: 89 out of 100 “Very Walkable” City Average: 61. Should be higher, but proximity to lake appears to negatively impact score
  • Transit Score: 59 “Good Transit” City average: 49

How Milwaukee Is It? The residence is 0.6 miles east-northeast of Milwaukee City Hall.

The Rundown is researched by Jordan Garcia.

3 thoughts on “House Confidential: Ben Handelman’s Nautical Outpost”

  1. “The Hong Kong-based ship bore a load of steel beams from Luxembourg to be used in the construction of the new Bucks arena.”

    So we aren’t using American steel for a partially publicly funded facility? [sarcasm]

  2. Dudemeister says:

    Always wondered about this building. Would this have been Milwaukee’s *first* modernist high rise?

  3. gerald braden says:

    Having spent exactly 25 years at the Lodgewood, I was pretty much forced out by new ownership that raised my rent way beyond my means, tacked on water , sewer & A/C charges as well, and I was one of the rest of the 90% good neighbors who also left over the next months to a year.. The drama is repeated at the Lodgewood as in other Katz Properties, where the costs go up, the service falls way down, and the community that was once strong and vibrant is sent scattering for another such place. The sad part is this location and view is indeed spectacular, but the family that once lived there was torn apart. Improvements were made, but at great expense to the resident’s who had to endure loud banging noises in the hallways, the deck, and the common garbage areas were often full of trash from the apt’s being renovated. Some of the higher end apartments had gorgeous remade kitchens, paid by the tenants themselves, with custom cabinets and marble top counter tops. The Katz restoration to these units replaced high end cabinet with pressed wood product cabinets with black exteriors and the counter tops were a cheap laminate. The bathrooms also lost much of their looks with cheaper imitations replacing beautiful plumbing and tile effects. The landscaping did make a better improvement, but the daily up-keep is lacking for what use to be a very clean and well maintained destination, No, the Katz Properties have left a very bad taste in all of our mouths. We have very little good to say about it being a value for the buck.

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