Michael Horne
Plenty of Horne

Abele to Destroy His Eschweiler Mansion

His $2.6 million Shorewood lakefront mansion could soon face the wrecking ball.

By - May 30th, 2019 03:06 pm
Chris Abele's Shorewood mansion. Photo by Michael Horne.

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

The Eschweiler-designed $2.6 million Shorewood lakefront mansion that Chris Abele bought last November is soon to face the wrecking ball.

The Village of Shorewood received a Demolition Permit application today for the 22-room, 9,762-square-foot, 1927 Mediterranean Revival home, according to Bart Griepentrog, Planning & Development Director for the North Shore village.

“At first appearance, it appears to be an application for a complete demolition,” Griepentrog tells Urban Milwaukee. The application will be reviewed by the village’s Building Inspector, who will make a site visitation. The process could take from a couple of days to a week or two, depending on the inspector’s schedule.

What is Next?

According to Griepentrog, “any alteration to the exterior of any building needs the approval of the Design Review Board.” The nine-member board is charged with reviewing the site’s appearance after any change. This would involve landscaping, in the event a building is removed and not replaced. The board, which is composed of two architects, two additional architects or design professionals, one real estate broker and four others, all village residents, would also review any proposed structure to be built on the site.

“There have been no plans submitted for a new structure,” at this time, Griepentrog says. Any application for a new structure must be submitted at least 10 days before a board meeting. The next meetings are scheduled for June 13th and June 27th.

Interior Demolition Already Underway

The first shipment of interior items was received yesterday at the Wauwatosa Habitat for Humanity ReStore shop, 3014 N. 114th St., according to a Facebook post:

Our first truck of salvaged items from the 1920’s mansion have arrived at ReStore Wauwatosa!! Come check out all the awesome treasures! Iron railings, lights, cabinets, registers, doors and more 👍

For more about the mansion that’s slated for destruction, see our story: “The 27 Bedrooms of Chris Abele.”

Update May 31 8 a.m.: A spokesperson for Abele contacted Urban Milwaukee to confirm that Abele has filed for demolition of the house. “My fiancé, Jennifer (Gonda) and I love the neighborhood and that’s why we are committed to a design that respects and honors it,” Abele says. “We brought in Habitat because we love the work they do and wanted to make sure that they could get as much out of the deconstruction process to help their work as possible.”

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7 thoughts on “Plenty of Horne: Abele to Destroy His Eschweiler Mansion”


    I’m wondering whether Mr. Abele will end up on the receiving end of the Law of Unintended Consequences. I imagine I’m not the only voter who is offended by his disregard for history and the over-the-top wastefulness of demolishing what looks like a perfectly good building just because you have an obscene amount of money. I can hear them say “if he would do something like that, what is he doing with our tax dollars?”

  2. jnor says:

    Typical of a carpetbagger who’s never worked a day in his life and instead has coasted on his father’s money to utterly disrespect what it means to earn anything, to respect the labor and love of others, and to see an important architectural monument like this as merely an obstacle to some future gaudy showplace. Abele has no respect for the history and the citizens of Milwaukee.

    He could have purchased any number of properties, including unoccupied ones, to build his house.

    Instead, he recklessly chooses this—and, even before the demolition is approved (and I hope it is stopped), vandalizes it by stripping it of its period furnishings and hardware.


  3. Barbara Richards says:

    Another act of hubris akin to the destruction of the chestnut grove. I am reminded of Binsey Poplars by Gerard Manley Hopkins. Ownership has become an onerous burden for our culture. It arises from a Culture of Scarcity. We could benefit by what Charles Eisenstein terms a Culture of Interbeing (adapted from Thich Nhat Hanh). When we dwell within interbeing our sense of connectedness to all that exists either by the hand of the creator or the created determines our every act. “Because I can”, does not make a right, or a Right.

  4. Thomas Martinsen says:

    What was there not to like about that property at 2.6 million dollars? Could it be that the marble staircase reminded the C.E, of a jab directed at him by former Sheriff David Clarke? Could Clarke have been uncharacteristically accurate in one of his most gross insults to Abele?

  5. Thomas Martinsen says:

    If Abele destroys an architectural beauty and replaces it with a grotesquely tall and generic monument to himself, the questions asked in post # 4 will have answers.

  6. Virginia Small says:

    As profligate and shocking as the demolition of an Eschweiler master work may be, Chris Abele has acquired for himself, as a politician, unprecedented and unchecked power over ALL Milwaukee county property not specifically zoned parkland. And zoning can be easily changed. Abele is free to execute other demolitions, as well as sales, transfers, etc. of taxpayer-owned assets. He can do so with even less oversight than will occur with his mansion.


    For example, Abele alone had power to permit the erasing and replacing of the Dan Kiley-designed horse chestnut grove at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, a public space owned by Milwaukee County. Abele has also gone on record opposing the preservation/restoration of the Domes and Milwaukee’s Frederick Law Olmsted parks. His latest announced plan is to close five senior centers.



    Thank you Virginia Small for highlighting these other issues. Citizens need to be vigilant to these kinds of dictator-like powers executives have accumulated!

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