Boat House Seeks to Demolish Its Lighthouse
Emergency demolition sought by owner of historic fantasy home along the river.
An iconic Milwaukee home could soon look a little bit different.
Steve Tilton, owner of “the Boat House,” applied to demolish the adjacent lighthouse because of its deteriorating condition.
The house, a 550-square-foot, two-story residence shaped like a boat, is located at 3138 N. Cambridge Ave.
Built in 1922 for Edmund B. Gustorf, the house “floats” due northeast of the non-functional lighthouse. The house is technically across the street from the Milwaukee River, but a sizable, well-vegetated and wooded bluff, and the Oak Leaf Trail block any sight of the lighthouse from the river and vice versa.
“The Edmund Gustorf House is architecturally significant as a unique expression of early twentieth-century fantasy architecture built to satisfy the whimsical residential aspirations of its nautically oriented first owner. It is the only known such ‘boat house’ in Wisconsin,” wrote the historic commission in a 1985 report that led to the property’s designation.
Tilton purchased the house in 2018 for $190,000, when Google Street View images and Urban Milwaukee file photos confirm the lighthouse had already started to lean.
The request, filed Wednesday, will be reviewed by the commission at an upcoming meeting.
Want to see inside? You can book a night at the house through Airbnb. The listing, offered for $338 per night, offers two bedrooms, four beds and two baths. “Not for the stair challenged,” the description warns. It sleeps up to six and won’t cause seasickness.
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