It looks like we may be getting back to pre-pandemic life, at least as far as house tours go.
There is an impressive list of personal tours this year. In fact, some of the tours are expected to be better than ever.
The Breast Cancer Showhouse, taking place June 4-19, returns after a two-year hiatus and will be held in the former UWM Alumni House. a 24,000 square meter private home.
“We’re back and what a way to reappear – with a house that will be one of the best ever, not just for its size but for its history. We’re expecting a record crowd,” said Linda Short, Public Relations Officer and Volunteer Coordinator for the showhouse.
The home, considered one of the finest examples of Tudor architecture in the Midwest, was purchased by entrepreneur and philanthropist Andy Nunemaker, who has been restoring it since his purchase in early 2021.
Because the building has served many functions over the years, many people have ties to it, and that’s probably a big draw, she said.
TIED TOGETHER:Your guide to 2022 house tours in Milwaukee and Wisconsin
“One volunteer said, ‘I lived in this house as a student when it was still a dorm, and I remember hiding beer in the toilet tank so the housewife wouldn’t find it.’ And someone else wrote and said that they worked on the second floor when there were offices there.
“And a woman from California, mid-80s, comes here to do the tour with people she went to school with because she lived here years ago.
“So many people have fond memories of this house on so many different levels. They want to see how it looks today, whether it was an office or a place for the UWM alumnae. It’s been a very versatile building for many years,” said Short.
More:Your guide to 2022 house tours in Milwaukee and Wisconsin
Tour-goers can see the home, which was decorated by more than 35 local interior designers, Short said.
There will be attractions outside, too, said Ellen Irion, chair of the showhouse board of directors and owner of Landscape by Design. She has been working on the gardens since last year.
“By then the planting will have started and people will be able to get an idea of what the gardens will look like. We’re keeping the original footprint of the garden,” she said.
By this time the west walls of the house’s original sunken garden are being rebuilt; a swimming pool that was filled in in 1955 is transformed into a fountain; and a four-car garage, just built from stone from the same quarry used for the home, will be the site of the show home’s boutique, she said.
Spaces & Traces includes downtown
The Spaces & Traces tour, organized by Historic Milwaukee, will be partially downtown this year, celebrating its 40th anniversary after a year off and a year of virtual tours, said Grace Fuhr, events director at Historic Milwaukee.
“We planned to celebrate this even before COVID. The reason we’re celebrating is because the first-ever Spaces and Traces tour took place downtown. It was called Loft Spaces and Historic Traces. Now the area has become a residential district in addition to being a business district,” she said.
Fuhr said the tour, scheduled for May 7, will also show the Third Ward, Westown and Yankee Hill neighborhoods and showcase condos, hotels and apartments in some of Milwaukee’s most iconic buildings.
Some of the highlights are the high-rise BreakWater condos, 1313 N. Franklin Place; the boutique hotel Kinn Guesthouse, 600 N. Broadway; and the Grand Wisconsin, 720 N. King Drive.
“We are very excited to introduce the BreakWater condos. It is one of the newer buildings featured on the tour this year. One of the most exciting things is the view that people can see from these rooms. The BreakWater offers views of the lake and downtown.
“The Kinn Guesthouse is a beautiful mix of historic brick and contemporary interior design. People will also be able to see the view from the rooftop.
“The Grand Wisconsin, once called the Hotel Wisconsin and built in 1913, was converted into apartments in 2007. Visitors can tour the large historic lobby and lounge. And the area where the ballroom was is now a practice room, game room and meeting room. There’s also a patio that’s newly added,” she said.
Since the virtual tour they had in 2021 was a success, virtual components will be offered this year in addition to the in-person tours, Fuhr said. The lectures on May 2nd, 4th and 9th are included in the travel price.
Cedarburg’s treasures in sight again
Another event returning with a bang is the Cedarburg Cultural Center’s Architectural Treasures Tour. It was canceled in 2020 and then offered as an outdoor walking tour of historic buildings last year.
This year, the September 10 tour will include the Nieman House, an Ozaukee County historic home listed on the National and State Registers of Historic Places, said Peg Edquist, event co-chair.
“It is one of the most unique homes in the county. It could be one of our best tours ever,” she said.
The house, an intricately detailed Tudor Revival brick building, ‘has been fully renovated to its original late 1920’s splendour. All the lights in the house are original and it includes Italian tiles in the front entryway and metalwork throughout the house by the famous German-Austrian master blacksmith Cyril Kolnik.
“One of the highlights is the basement Rathskeller, which features a replica Wurlitzer jukebox, a 1941 pool table, and a children’s play area with hand-made tiles illustrating nursery rhymes,” she said.
The building also has maids’ quarters on the third floor, a conservatory, a sunroom, a kitchen, a study, a dining room, a master bedroom with his and hers walk-in closets, a master bathroom and a children’s room.
“The house is more like a small mansion and really needs to be seen to appreciate its importance in architectural history. … In the tour, not only will we tell the story of this beautifully restored home, we will tell the story of life as it was in the late 1920s,” she said.
The historic Concordia is back in person
Paul Vissers, chair of the Historic Concordia Home Tour on June 18, said his group will be showing about 10 homes on the west side of the neighborhood after two years of virtual tours.
It will include a variety of styles of houses and even gardens.
“We have some wonderful houses over there. We have homes that have never been on the tour and some homes that have been on the tour years ago that have been upgraded,” he said.
One home is the Pabst Von Ernst House, a nearly 600-square-foot, red-brick Queen Anne-style home that’s one of the few homes in the neighborhood that still has a porte-cochere, or carriage porch, he said.
The owners have been working there since the late 1990s to turn the former 22-room boarding house into a single-family home again. During the renovation, mural paintings were found under layers of dirt on some ceilings on the first floor. The decorative murals are attributed to Otto von Ernst (Captain Pabst’s son-in-law), who was an academic artist and a major figure in the Milwaukee art world.
“These blankets are just amazing. The artwork was hand drawn,” Vissers said.
Gardens are included this year to show how neighbors interact with each other, he said.
“We have some beautifully landscaped gardens in our neighborhoods… This tour really shows the diversity of the neighborhood. We want to make people aware of how great Concordia is,” he said.
He added that some houses on this year’s tour have been featured in the virtual tours for the past two years; These tours are still available on the website.
“During these tours, the homeowners told their own personal stories. They talked about how they believe in the neighborhood. Although we’ve been virtual for the past two years, we haven’t sat idly by. We’ve really improved our website by adding a more personal touch,” he added.
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