Michael Horne
House Confidential

One Home to Call, That’s All

You know personal injury lawyer David Gruber's ads. Now get to know his Fox Point abode.

By - Nov 1st, 2018 03:20 pm
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One Home to Call, That's All. Photo by Michael Horne.

One Home to Call, That’s All. Photo by Michael Horne.

Personal Injury attorney David E. Gruber‘s legal and media careers have both been on a rising trajectory since he began his legal practice after graduating from Marquette Law School in 1983. He started with a small shop and a caseload that kept him in court nearly full time (39 cases in 2002 alone) to today heading one of the largest such practices in the city, with over 120 “Team Members.” Gruber has personally filed only six cases in the past decade, leaving much of the casework to associates, as is customary in similarly organized practices.

Such lessening of his personal docket responsibilities frees time for Gruber to tape his ubiquitous “One Call … That’s All” advertisements, and affords him the opportunity to follow his passion for sports, with a particular emphasis on basketball, at which he excelled as an undergraduate at the University of Delaware. He was the co-captain of the Fightin’ Blue Hens in 1979-1980.

Shall we simply say that Atty. Gruber prefers the basketball court to circuit court, and leave it at that?

After Gruber scored in the ad studio he rebounded into the ESPN broadcast booth, where he and Craig Karmazin, owner of Good Karma Brands, trade their NCAA tournament tips in the “Gruber Law Offices Bracket Breakdown” show on ESPN radio, which Karmazin heads. The pair have ringside seats for Milwaukee Bucks games, and in an on-air promotion in 2016 offered lucky listeners a chance to join them for a game. (“No Purchase or Payment of Any Kind,” read the rules, which assigned to the prize an “Approximate Retail Value of $1,200.”)

Courtside Seatmates, Now in ESPN Boardroom

Gruber’s media career took yet another unexpected turn when it was disclosed that he was a partner with Karmazin in the $16 million purchase of two Milwaukee radio stations from the E. W. Scripps Company of Cincinnati, effective November 1st. Scripps acquired the stations, WKTI-FM (94.5), and WTMJ-AM (620), in its purchase of Journal Communications, Inc. in 2015. Scripps dumped the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper in a 2016 sale to Gannett, Inc., and while it has sold the two radio stations, it retains WTMJ-TV (Ch. 4).

WKTI is to be rebranded as ESPN-FM, and for now will simulcast its WAUK-AM (540) sports-only programming, finally available in a static-free medium.

WTMJ is principally a Right-Wing Talk Radio station, interrupting its political programming only for its broadcasts of Brewers, Packers and Bucks games. It is the statewide flagship radio station for these teams.

A Top Donors to Dems Now Owns Right-Wing Radio Station

Gruber’s partial ownership of AM-620 presents a delicious irony: From 2009-2018, Gruber and his wife, Atty. Nancy R. Gruber (also Marquette Law ’83) donated $47,250 to Democratic party candidates in state races, ranking them among the Wisconsin party’s top 50 donors.

If I were to make one call to David Gruber, I’d ask him to ensure his radio station’s political programming showed the same balance as its sports coverage. That’s all.

From Passaic to Fox Point

David Gruber is a native of Passaic, N. J. At around 3 square miles, Passaic is about the same size as Fox Point, yet has ten times the population. His father was on the police department in this densely populated and deeply corrupt city, where successive mayors have been imprisoned for federal bribery charges. Gruber relates that when his dad retired, the guys around the station house reckoned he was one of only four members of the senior command to have not been indicted.

Gruber had never been to Milwaukee before entering Marquette Law School, so the adjustment to life here must have been considerable. The odyssey from the sidewalks of northern New Jersey to a home along leafy Belmont Lane in Fox Point, where sidewalks are unknown, must have been quite an adventure for him. Not so much for Nancy Gruber: she’s a North Shore native who graduated from Nicolet High School.

Gruber’s Home in History

During the early automotive era, a trip to Fox Point was an excursion, and not yet an everyday commute. Wealthy families would relocate here for the summer season, not far downwind from the Uihlein Nine Mile Farm, where that family’s brewery operated a restorative pasture for its draft horses, now the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. The community incorporated in 1927, when it had fewer than 500 inhabitants. This number was to nearly quintuple by the time Albert Abraham took out a permit on October 7th, 1947 to build a five-room, one-bath single-story ranch home, clad in Lannon stone, at a cost of $20,000. Within two years, the home was owned by Morris Miller, who paid $1,000 to convert a porch into a den. The home had a number of owners subsequently, and had few improvements over the decades. A 2000 condition report cited 16 deficiencies, including cracks visible in the foundation “that may require future maintenance,” as the building inspector understated.

Thus commenced an onslaught of improvements to the property that culminated (for now) in a $350,000 remodeling, dating to 2005, that added a second story to the home, more than doubling its size, and transforming the single-bath, single-story home into a two-story dwelling with plenty of baths.

Gruber’s Home Today

The single-story ranch home of 1947 would not be recognizable in its current iteration as a two-story “Colonial.” What was once served by a single bathroom is now awash in W.C. options, with three full and two half-bathrooms. At least one of the full bathrooms includes a heated floor. The residence is located on a curve in the street, and is poorly hidden by some conifers that are past their prime, especially as landscape screening, as was apparently the original intent. The home is clad in stone, and presents a dignified face to the street, where it is visible from three sides. There is a certain Fachwerk element to the facade, which is otherwise somewhat flat. A patch of brick on the front looks as if the contractor had run out of Lannon stone, rather than as an artistic effect, as was surely intended. Still, we have here a home that has transcended its beginnings, when east of Lake Drive was merely a comfortable upper middle class neighborhood, into something a bit more substantial, while lacking the overpowering bluster of its lakefront neighbors.

Fun Fact

David Gruber and Nancy Rice met as law students at Marquette University, from which they both graduated in 1983. The husband-and-wife attorney duo have worked together since she joined the Gruber law firm in 1996. They are remarkably close in another professional respect: Daniel Gruber holds Wisconsin State Bar I.D. #1000067, while Nancy Gruber holds Wisconsin State Bar I.D. #1000068.

Photo Gallery

Rundown

  • Owner: David E. Gruber, Nancy R[ice]. Gruber
  • Location: Village of Fox Point
  • Neighborhood: The Village of Fox Point is more about zoning districts than it is about neighborhoods. Zoning District of this property: A1. And it is east of Lake Drive, after all. That alone should settle the matter in the property’s favor
  • Subdivision: Ravina Subdivision, c. 1947
  • Year Built: 1947
  • Architect: Illegible signature on Fox Point Building Permit #785 does not resolve this abiding mystery. George Schley & Sons remodeled porch into den in 1949. Gabor Design Build is responsible for current iteration 2005-06
  • Style: It started out as a one-story Ranch in 1947, and evolved into a Colonial by 2006 second story addition. Original home would not be recognizable
  • Description: An early Ranch has been transformed into a Colonial in this East-of-Lake Drive section of southern Fox Point. Others in area have undergone transformations of their own, with varying results. A few Jewel Box Tudors of modest proportion remain as yet unchanged.
  • Size: The residence contains 3,558 square feet of finished living area on two floors, with 1,608 square feet on the first and 1,950 square feet on the second. There is also a 356 square foot Rec Room and a 456 square foot attached garage. There is a full basement of 792 square feet, and an adjacent crawl space of 696 square feet. The residence has a footprint of 2,213 square feet on its 12,700 square foot lot
  • Fireplaces: One
  • Bedrooms: 5
  • Bathrooms: 3 Full, 2 Half Baths
  • Rec Room: One. Loaded with trophies and game jerseys, perhaps
  • Assessment: Land: The 12,700-s.f. lot is assessed at $248,500 [$19.56/s.f.]. The improvement is assessed at $395,600  for a total assessed valuation of $644,100. Previous assessment: Could not be readily determined. Current owners bought property on 07/19/2006 for $899,000
  • Taxes: $15,838.49. Paid in Full, 12/31/2017. Receipt #5666 issued
  • Garbage Collection Route and Schedule: Orange Rubbish Route. Monday is garbage day
  • Polling Location: Ward 3 votes at Fox Point Police Department, Padway Hall. 7200 N. Santa Monica Blvd.
  • Aldermanic District: The Village of Fox Point is governed by a Board President and six Trustees, elected at large for staggered three-year terms
  • County Supervisor District: 1 Theodore Lipscomb, Sr.
  • Walk Score: 32 out of 100 “Car Dependent” Most Daily Errands require a car. City of Milwaukee Average: 62 out of 100.
  • Transit Score: Not surprisingly, not found. City of Milwaukee Average: 49 out of 100
  • How Milwaukee is it? The residence is approximately 9.5 miles northeast of Milwaukee City Hall by vehicle if you take Lake Drive, which is the only way to go
Categories: House Confidential

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