Michael Horne
House Confidential

Top 10 Homes Featured in 2018

Readers loved these stories the most.

By - Dec 27th, 2018 04:14 pm
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Jason Kidd's former home. Photo by Michael Horne.

Jason Kidd’s former home. Photo by Michael Horne.

Over the past calendar year, House Confidential visited 24 homes in the Milwaukee area and reported the findings to you, the reader. We have selected the top ten stories, as determined by the number of page views, and invite you to revisit your favorites, or to discover ones you may have missed.

The mission of House Confidential is to give a glimpse of our community and its housing stock as found in public records and other source documents. The information contained in each report is available to anybody with the means and opportunity to do so. Records vary by municipality. Some communities, like the Village of Fox Point, have digitized their property records, making it easy for the armchair researcher to study the evolution of a simple ranch home into a minor McMansion, such as belongs to noted attorney David Gruber (#9).

Most of the homes visited are in the City of Milwaukee, where the juiciest morsels are found in the microfiche files of the Development Center, the paper files of the Assessor, and the resource materials of the Municipal Research Library and the Historic Preservation Commission. These Google-resistant documents often provide details that would otherwise be unknown, even to the residents of the homes themselves. (“So that’s when they removed the old boiler!”) The staffs of these departments in the city and suburbs alike have been professional and considerate when asked for information on the selected properties, which is deeply appreciated.

There is no formula to determine a likely House Confidential property, but there are themes that can be observed. We try to cover some of the many homes featured on house tours and show homes during the course of the year, reckoning that these offer an opportunity for interested readers to visit the interiors of the homes covered. The Frank Lloyd Wright American System-Built Home “B” (#7), for example, is a house museum open to the public year-round. It is an example of a home selected for the prominence of its architecture, as was a the Mollica House in Bayside, (#2) a late work of the Wisconsin-born master.

Occasionally the home featured is one that is for sale, especially if it is of historic interest. That would include a classic Alexander Eschweiler home on N. Astor St. (#10). It had long served as a retail and office space, but was being offered as a possible residential re-conversion priced at $700,000. It is still on the market, now offered at $635,000.

Sometimes the home is in the news simply because it has been sold to a prominent buyer. This would be the case of another Eschweiler home, this one in Shorewood, and purchased in November by County Executive Chris Abele  for $2.6 million. Although the story was published on December 20th, it vaulted into the #3 position. It made for Abele’s third appearance as a House Confidential Honoree, the only person thus far so recognized. The home had a mixture of money, history, architecture and politics to back up its story and add to its allure.

Abele was not the only wealthy politician to be visited this year. Dan Kohl, who ran unsuccessfully for Congress as a Democrat, has a large condo in Mequon that was a reader favorite (#4).

Other homes are chosen for their novelty, even if not grand, like the Octagon House in Riverwest. It did not make the top ten, but it is an example of how a modest building with historic roots can be of interest to the reader. Sports figures are another good source of material for House Confidential reports, and we visited Giannis Antetokounmpo in his new River Hills mansion even before he moved in. That story had a twist, in that research revealed a significant disparity between the assessor’s calculations and the property as built. It was #10 until Abele bumped him off the list within the last week.

Former Bucks coach Jason Kidd made it onto the list (#1) when he sold his Lake Drive mansion shortly after being fired by the team on January 22nd. Olympic fever brought us all the way to the Lake Country to visit former skating champion Bonnie Blair.

Sometimes it is not fame, but infamy that draws a home to our attention. This is the case with Shorewood’s “House of Fraud,” (#6) occupied by a woman who had been accused of receiving improper public assistance payments. Federal court proceedings are matters of public record, and the judge had a few choice words to say to the owner of this property.

Thanks for your support over the past year, and we will see what 2019 brings for readers of House Confidential. It has been a pleasure to serve you, and as always, your comments and suggestions are welcome.

House Confidential 2018 Top 10

Ranked in descending order.

10. An Eschweiler home, City of Milwaukee

This building by the Milwaukee architect was built as a residence, but has served as a store and an office for over a half-century. It could be converted back into a home, but this would require the installation of at least one bath tub. Still for sale.

Classic Eschweiler Home Back on Market. Photo by Michael Horne.

Classic Eschweiler Home Back on Market. Photo by Michael Horne.

9. David Gruber, Village of Fox Point

The personal injury attorney and basketball fan is a heavy advertiser on television, and readers were interested in his home.

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

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

8. George Busateri, Catherine Balistrieri Busateri, City of Milwaukee

With its story timed to coincide with Festa Italiana, this home of its music director and his wife is a good example of a quality residence with fine detailing on a quiet Lower East Side street.

The House of Spider George. Photo by Michael Horne.

The House of Spider George. Photo by Michael Horne.

7. Frank Lloyd Wright American System-Built Home “B”, City of Milwaukee

The famed architect’s largest assemblage of prefabricated homes sits among others in an otherwise nondescript residential neighborhood on the South Side. It is open to the public.

American System-Built Home by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Erik Ljung. All Rights Reserved.

American System-Built Home by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photo by Erik Ljung. All Rights Reserved.

6. A duplex in the Village of Shorewood

The owner of this home was accused of bilking government aid programs, and readers did not approve.

The House of Fraud. Photo by Michael Horne.

The House of Fraud. Photo by Michael Horne.

5. A home in the Concordia Neighborhood, City of Milwaukee

This Queen Anne home on the West Side was the most popular one featured in the New York Times “Find a Home” column in February when it was listed for sale at $190,000. The home sold for that price in May.

New York Times Most Popular Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

New York Times Most Popular Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

4. Dan Kohl, City of Mequon

The congressional candidacy of the nephew of former Bucks owner and U.S. senator Herb Kohl raised his profile, and the readers responded to this pre-election story.

Dan Kohl's "Hidden" Condo. Photo by Michael Horne.

Dan Kohl’s “Hidden” Condo. Photo by Michael Horne.

3. Chris Abele, Village of Shorewood

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele increased his home count to three with this November purchase of a lakefront mansion for $2.6 million.

Chris Abele's Shorewood mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

Chris Abele’s Shorewood mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

2. The Mollica Home, Village of Bayside

This Frank Lloyd Wright home in a secluded spot in the North Shore suburb sits on a ravine and was popular with readers.

A Rare Frank Lloyd Wright Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

A Rare Frank Lloyd Wright Home. Photo by Michael Horne.

1. Jason Kidd, Village of Fox Point

The Bucks coach scored the top spot after being fired by the team in January. His house sold instantly.

Jason Kidd's former home. Photo by Michael Horne.

Jason Kidd’s former home. Photo by Michael Horne.

Categories: Real Estate

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