Michael Horne
House Confidential

Top 10 Homes Featured in 2017

Readers loved these stories the most -- except for Bob Donovan.

By - Dec 29th, 2017 02:27 pm
Get a daily rundown of the top stories on Urban Milwaukee
Jabari Parker's New Bachelor Pad. Photo by Michael Horne.

Jabari Parker’s New Bachelor Pad. Photo by Michael Horne.

House Confidential visited 24 homes in 2017, all but three of them within the city limits. Thirteen of the residences are certifiable mansions, mostly clustered on the East Side, but with some notable ones elsewhere, including on the West Side and Brewers Hill.

But the discerning House Confidential reader looks at factors beyond grandeur when following along on these adventures. Only three of the mansions we visited made it to the Top 10 list for 2017.

The other most-read House Confidential honorees exhibited characteristics that made them appealing to readers for other reasons, including character and, occasionally a curiosity factor. These included #7, a Riverwest home with automobiles buried in the front yard, #3, a Third Ward residence constructed in an old (and quite small) railroad building, and #2, also in Riverwest, a lovely little home constructed of materials every bit as fine as those employed in the most impressive mansions we have visited. It turns out the house was once the office of the company that supplied mansion builders with their construction materials.

The most popular House Confidential of 2017 had a number of things going for it, including an unusual past as an electric generating plant, an extensive ongoing renovation in progress, a location in a changing neighborhood, and a professional athlete as its owner and future resident.

About House Confidential

This passes as “journalism” in Milwaukee—but see it for what it truly is, a stalker-ish column that often hides behind the headline of “real estate news” to make political and personal attacks against those who go against the grain of liberal Milwaukee leadership. — Ald. Bob Donovan, commenting on House Confidential in a Facebook post, November 6th, 2017

Although there is plenty of real estate news published on a daily basis at Urban Milwaukee, House Confidential has never headlined itself as such. “Stalking” is a felony in Wisconsin, requiring repeated acts directed at a specific person. Nor do we violate any privacy statutes, such as Peeping Tom laws.

The Role of Public Information

Rather than an intrusion into personal privacy, House Confidential represents a celebration of public information that ties us together as a community governed by law. This right to examine and publicize official documents including building assessments, taxes, construction documents and ownership is enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution, and therein lies our interest and the source of much of what constitutes a House Confidential column.

In a society where private property is hallowed, it naturally follows that there should be some public registry of such property, particularly when it is of a real nature. The Register of Deeds keeps this straight in the courthouse. Since said real property is a source of tax revenue for various government entities, it is essential that the property be fairly assessed. This is done at a municipal level in Wisconsin, either by government or, increasingly, by private contractors. The information, by law, is public.

To ensure that the buildings in a community are safe and fit for occupancy falls largely in municipal hands, guided by state code. These records are also public information, and usually date back to the original building permit. The names of past owners and occupants of a property are also a matter of public record, and their stories often provide illumination to a bygone era, as well as context for our own. The way people live, be they politicians, business leaders, criminals or just plain Joes or Janes, can be highly informative and interesting for readers.

In addition to this source document research, a visit to the subject property is also necessary, mostly to assess the neighborhood characteristics and the appearance of the residence, as well as to photograph the property strictly from the public way. This, too, is permitted by law. At no time have these photographs ever been taken from private property, whether of the subject, or a neighbor.

House Confidential 2017 Top 10

Ranked in descending order.

10. A Classic Ferry & Clas Mansion

Wahl Ave Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

Wahl Ave Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

This Northpoint mansion was for sale in September when we visited. A link to the real estate listing allowed readers the rare opportunity to see interior photographs. The home had previously served as a charity show house. Read more.

9. Evan Goyke’s Fixer-Upper

Rep. Evan Goyke's Fixer-Upper. Photo by Michael Horne.

Rep. Evan Goyke’s Fixer-Upper. Photo by Michael Horne.

Elected representatives must live within their districts, thus their home addresses are a matter of public record. This Democratic representative to the assembly resides in a spacious 1894 home in the Concordia neighborhood sure to keep any owner’s spare time occupied. Read more.

8. A Cottage of Curiosities

Kane Place Cottage. Photo by Michael Horne

Kane Place Cottage. Photo by Michael Horne

According to city records this Carpenter Gothic cottage on the Lower East Side dates to 1889, but actually that was the date of the house next door, built immediately to the west. This home is actually considerably older, which is but one of the curious aspects of this charming cottage. Read more.

7. The House of Buried Cars

The House of Buried Cars. Photo by Michael Horne.

The House of Buried Cars. Photo by Michael Horne.

A high-visibility Riverwest location on busy N. Humboldt Blvd. along with a collection of automobiles buried in the front yard made this home already well-known, and guaranteed the popularity of its story. Read more.

6. The Newest East Side Mansion

The Newest East Side Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

The Newest East Side Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

Developer Robert Schmidt III bought a neighboring back yard to build this new N. Terrace Ave. mansion in a historic Northpoint neighborhood district where it is surrounded by mansions a century older. Readers weighed in pro and con about the Contemporary Classic residence. Read more.

5. A Millionaire’s Neoclassical Mansion

A Millionaire's Neoclassical Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

A Millionaire’s Neoclassical Mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

This Northpoint mansion would be an ornament to any city, and was popular with the readers who admired its beauty and fine condition. Read more.

4. Fire Fighter Lives Far, Far Away

A Half Million Dollar McMansion Jr. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Half Million Dollar McMansion Jr. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

This Town of Jackson McMansion, owned by the then-head of the Fire Fighter’s union, was the most controversial House Confidential story of 2017, leading to the comments of Ald. Donovan cited above. Shortly after publication, the owner lost his bid to retain his union seat. Read more.

3. Tiny Railroad Tower House is Unique

Tiny Railroad Tower House Is Unique. Photo by Michael Horne.

Tiny Railroad Tower House Is Unique. Photo by Michael Horne.

The popularity of unusual houses is shown in this Third Ward riverfront residence located in a former railroad building. Read more.

2. Tiny Odd Beauty in Riverwest

A Tiny Odd Beauty in Riverwest. Photo by Michael Horne.

A Tiny Odd Beauty in Riverwest. Photo by Michael Horne.

This small Riverwest home of impeccable design and materials benefits from its high-visibility location on busy N. Humboldt Blvd. Read more.

1. Jabari Parker’s New Bachelor Pad

Jabari Parker's New Bachelor Pad. Photo by Michael Horne.

Jabari Parker’s New Bachelor Pad. Photo by Michael Horne.

This is the second appearance for the Milwaukee Bucks star, whose Grafton home was previously featured. This redevelopment of a Brewers Hill power plant was the most popular House Confidential column of 2017. Read more.

Categories: Real Estate

2 thoughts on “House Confidential: Top 10 Homes Featured in 2017”

  1. Josh d. says:

    Bob Donovan’s Wayne’s off. We own one of the top 10 (woot!) and the thought and history that goes into the articles for all of these is amazing, nothing stalker about them. It gives a personal glimpse into our city, and The people that walked by to see the house after the article were all super nice. I’d say thanks Michael!

  2. DK says:

    Can you do one on Donovan’s house? It would be fun to get him into even more of a tizzy.

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