Bye-bye Bay View — Hello five acres, four goats, and a passel of chickens

January 31, 2017

Protecting the animals is an ongoing project for new homesteaders Doreen Hulett and her husband Darryl Hulett. It has become less onerous since Carlie came onto the scene. The Huletts adopted the Great Pyrenees to protect their livestock. The breed is known for its exceptional ability to ward off predators.
PHOTO Katherine Keller

When Doreen Hulett opened the city assessor’s blue envelope and saw that their 2014 property taxes had increased to nearly $4,400, she and her husband Darryl Hulett said enough. They pulled up stakes, sold their Bay View home, and left the city.

The 2014 tax bill, Doreen said, coupled with learning that her friend who lived in Brookfield paid significantly less for her property taxes for more land and a bigger and newer house “definitely pushed us into the moving-out-of-Milwaukee mode. When I opened the tax bill that December night and I found they had gone up, that was the final straw.”

The Huletts purchased a home on five acres of rolling land in rural Walworth County where they have established a mini livestock farm. PHOTO Katherine Keller

The Huletts purchased a home on five acres of rolling land in rural Walworth County where they have established a mini livestock farm. They’ve got hens that produce eggs, and they hope their four goats will soon produce milk because they want to make cheese. They also acquired a Great Pyrenees to protect the chickens and goats.

They bought their bungalow, 3762 S. Pine Ave., in December 1995 to start a family. They paid $84,900 for the home and its 60- by 124-foot lot. Doreen said she doesn’t remember what their property taxes were at the time but said they were considerably lower. So while they benefited from a dramatic increase in the value of their home, they were also saddled with higher and higher property taxes. (The home is currently assessed at $182,600, according to city records. Huletts sold it for $199,900, their asking price.)

By 2014, their two daughters were adults and no longer living at home, easing their decision about leaving Bay View. Doreen was already in the early stages of operating a micro farm within the confines of the city. She wanted to expand.

Not long after it became legal to keep chickens in Milwaukee, she and Darryl acquired four hens. “We had to get permission from the neighbors, but it was worth it. Chickens are darling — we love them,” she said.

Doreen was yearning to have animals that would not have been permitted in Milwaukee. “I wanted more chickens. And goats, and you cannot have that in Milwaukee,” she said.

Doreen Hulett said her chickens have great personalities and it is fascinating to witness flock hierarchy. PHOTO Katherine Keller

Doreen Hulett already possessed a taste for a more rural lifestyle. She grew up in a St. Martins, once a freestanding hamlet in Franklin Township. “It was very much an enclave made up mainly of Germans and Irish; one church was for the Germans and the other for the Irish,” she said. My father used to joke, ‘St. Martins — two Catholic churches and three bars — not that saintly.’  At one point, I couldn’t spit, as a kid, without hitting a relative or two; I was related to everybody in St. Martins! It was a great place to grow up,” Doreen said.

Hulett remembers that their neighbors owned cows. Her mother and father came from farming families. “We had no livestock (when I was) growing up, but a very large garden. I grew up in a family of seven kids, so canning and preserving food was essential to keep food costs down,” she said.

By contrast, Darryl was a city kid and grew up on 90th Street and Hampton Avenue in northwest Milwaukee.

Darryl and Doreen Hulett standing in their goat pen.
PHOTO Katherine Keller

Farm Living

Both Doreen and Darryl have kept their long-held, full-time jobs; she’s in the mortgage business and Darryl works in real estate management. They both work in Pewaukee.

While the farming lifestyle was primarily Doreen’s idea, she said Darryl has been greatly supportive of helping her achieve her dream. “Farming’s great, but it’s also hard work. I wouldn’t candy-coat it,” Doreen said.

That would include their experience with acquiring a building permit and the placement of their chicken coop.

“Before we had the barn built, we pulled a permit with the county,” Doreen said. “The site (where the barn was built) was nowhere near where we originally planned it to go, but due to lot lines, we built it down the hill and nearer the road.

When the county (building inspector) came to check on the barn site, he noticed that the shed, currently the chicken coop, did not have a permit. Even though the shed was on the property when the Hulett’s purchased their property, he told them they must either move it or destroy it.

The inspector informed them that they had 30 days to move it and if they failed to do so, they would be fined $600 per day until it was moved. Not knowing how they would move a small building, they contacted neighbors who had recently befriended them. Doreen said

Four breeds make up the Huletts’ flock of 30 hens — Barred Rock, Isa Reds, Golden Comets, and Australorps. PHOTO Katherine Keller

they were the right people to contact because they had grown-up in the area and knew a nearby farmer who brought a front-end loader, lifted the shed, moved it down the hill, and placed it at the site the inspector indicated would be permissible.

Four breeds make up the Huletts’ flock of 30 hens — Barred Rock, Isa Reds, Golden Comets, and Australorps.

“The chickens have great personalities, and it’s quite the lesson to witness the flock hierarchy. They battle each other for positions on the roost at night. The more aged in the flock head to the coop a lot earlier than the younger chickens. The younger chickens are the last to come in at night,” Doreen said.

Their four goats are Oberhasli. According to information provided by The Livestock Conservancy website, Oberhasli is a dairy breed developed in the mountainous Swiss cantons of Bern, Freiburg, Glarus, and Graubunden. The breed, also known as Swiss Alpine, was first imported to the United

The Huletts invested in four female Oberhasli goats. They plan to make cheese when the goats begin producing milk. PHOTO Katherine Keller

States in the early 1900s.

Keeping them healthy and thin, Doreen said with a laugh, is their goat-keeping challenge. “Darryl built a great fence, so the only time they escape is when we don’t close the gate securely,” she said. “They love to give you goat kisses.”

Protecting the animals is an ongoing project but made less onerous since Carlie came onto the scene. The Huletts adopted a Great Pyrenees whose role is livestock guardian, a trait the breed is known for.

When Darryl was searching for adult goats in the winter of 2015/2016, he was referred to a woman who no longer raised goats. She had a livestock guardian dog, Carlie, that she wanted to rehome. They adopted her but her transition to living outdoors full-time penned up with the goats has been a difficult transition for her. She had not served as a working dog and lived with people before her adoption by the Huletts. Now Carlie lives outdoors within the confines of the goat pen fulltime.

Great Pyrenees Carlie is a working dog who keeps foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls away from the Huletts’ chickens and goats. PHOTO Katherine Keller

“She is a sweet dog who has bonded with the goats incredibly well,” Doreen said. “Darryl went down to the barn on a miserable night, and he witnessed Carlie spooning in the barn door with the two adult goats.

“Her barking has scared off anything that would dare to encroach on her territory or harm her goats or chickens. She has kept foxes, coyotes, hawks, and owls away. It’s not easy keeping chickens alive, but with Carlie’s help, we are a bit less worried.

“We went out to take care of them one day and one of the Australorps was out of the pen. The last Australorp who did that was taken away by a fox. Before Carlie, we had multiple attacks from foxes and coyotes.”

The Huletts have also begun keeping bees, but problems last fall led to colony failure. “We just brought on too much, too fast last year and we weren’t able to devote enough time to the bees,” she said. “It’s a very complex hobby, and if I would have devoted more time to research, I’d have taken the time to care for them better.” Now armed with more knowledge, Hulett said she ordered 60 pounds of bees to repopulate their hives this spring.

Doreen has set aside her enjoyment of reading fiction and instead reads books about animal husbandry.

She plans to make cheese from goat’s milk once the goats kid. “When we started this homestead,’ she said, “we knew every animal would have a purpose and produce food — not meat, as I don’t believe in slaughter, but we get eggs from chickens, the goats will give milk, and the bees are for honey and pollination.” She hopes to convince Darryl to get a cow. They have also designated an area of their property for an apple and/or cherry orchard.

Oberhasli goats are intelligent, curious, and love to give goat kisses.
PHOTO Katherine Keller

The Huletts maintain a 600-square-foot garden, approximately twice the size of their garden in Bay View. They grow tomatoes, most of which Doreen cans, along with broccoli, kale, squash, and more. They currently keep much of what they grow for themselves, but they may offer a community supported agriculture program (CSA) in the future. “Our full-time jobs really don’t permit the time commitment for that yet. But honestly, we grow waaaay more food than I can eat in a year. I still have dehydrated vegetables from two years ago. Darryl doesn’t enjoy eating vegetables, so it’s usually just me eating them,” she said. She added, “I saw a cute saying on Facebook — If you want to become a millionaire with a homestead, then you better have started out as a billionaire.”

She said they would definitely add a greenhouse to grow tomatoes in winter.

“This summer I want to hold a few workshops for making tofu, tempeh, or fermented foods. We’ll see how the cabbage goes and if it’s a good crop, we’ll make sauerkraut,” she said.

Hulett praised her country neighbors, most of whom are eager to help with farm tasks. “Chad and Allison (Reichenberger) are the best! They have taken care of the animals while we were gone to [our daughter’s] wedding,” Doreen said. They lent us a rototiller, plowed our snowy driveway, helped us move our shed, and towed my niece out when she got stuck in our driveway. There is so much more they have done for us, and we cannot repay them enough. And Ben, who has a farm down the road a bit, delivers hay bales for us, seeing we don’t have a pickup yet.”

Do they miss anything about city living?

They miss the Humboldt Park beer garden and an occasional night out at Chill on the Hill. “I like concerts and now they are harder to get to because we’re so busy and so far away but we have fun here,” Doreen said. “We grab a couple of beers and sit on our deck and look at our beautiful lot and the critters. It’s pretty satisfying.”

Connect with the Huletts via Doreen’s blog,, or their Facebook page, TheHulettHomestead.

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the Bay View Compass.

Howard Avenue Expansion May Encompass Dover Street School

January 7, 2017

On Dec. 8, the Milwaukee School Board of Directors took action to expand the Howard Avenue school community to include the former Dover Street School site. This additional space at Dover would give the school an opportunity to develop an expansion plan to ensure students have the learning environment they need, said Carol Voss, District 8 MPS School Board Director. Because Howard’s program only serves children from K3 to Grade 3, parents have been frustrated when seeking Grade 4 seats in a Montessori program because there are not enough to accommodate demand. The proposed expansion to a second campus at Dover would allow Howard to extend its program to Grade 8.

On Thursday, Dec. 22, the Milwaukee Board of School Directors will vote on a proposal to direct the administration to develop the final scope and cost estimates for the expansion of Howard Avenue Montessori and to take all the steps necessary to begin the expansion in fall 2017.

If approved, the principal and district officials would work collaboratively with Howard Avenue Montessori parents to develop the specifics of the expansion plan. MPS will schedule a number of meetings to provide parents with opportunities to offer feedback, Voss said.

Free Citizen-Science Wetland- Monitoring Program

January 7, 2017

Would-be volunteers for the Milwaukee County Parks award-winning Citizen-Science Wetland-Monitoring Program are invited to attend an orientation Saturday, Jan. 21, from 9 to 11am at Wehr Nature Center, located in Whitnall Park at 9701 W. College Ave.

Only volunteers who attend the orientation will be invited to participate in a free, two-hour field-training workshop. Volunteers may choose to attend the workshop on either a weekday evening or a Saturday morning in March. Volunteers will look for and document the presence and distribution of sensitive wildlife populations such as salamanders, frogs, toads, crayfish, and fairy shrimp. Data will be collected from ephemeral wetlands throughout the park system in the Oak Creek and Root River watersheds. This information will guide habitat-management activities within the park system.

“The Parks Department places a high value on our ephemeral wetlands because they serve as crucial habitat for species of amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates,” said Julia Robson, who coordinates Milwaukee County’s Citizen-based Wetland Monitoring Program for the Parks Department. “The inhabitants of these wetlands, particularly amphibians, can be highly sensitive to environmental change and degradation. Knowing the location of ephemeral wetlands and the potential they may have for sustaining sensitive and rare wildlife populations is critical to the management of these natural areas.”

For more about the Parks program or to register, contact Julia Robson, Assistant Natural Areas Coordinator, 414-257-8081 or or search for “Citizen Science Opportunities” at Registration must be received by Jan. 19.

Calls for Traffic Calming on Howell Avenue to Protect Pedestrians

January 7, 2017

By Katherine Keller

A meeting addressing pedestrian safety concerns on South Howell Avenue was held December 1 at Milwaukee Parkside School for the Arts.

Sponsored by the Howell Avenue Safety Committee, presenters included Jake Newborn of the Wisconsin Bike Fed, Joseph Blakeman of Milwaukee’s Department of Public Works, and Dist. 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski. Milwaukee Police Department Sergeant Eileen Donovan-Agnew and Community Liaison Officers Carlos Felix and Joshua Dummann also attended.

Newborn said that Bike Fed has been working with Parkside for three years, educating students and their families about bike and pedestrian safety. Parkside is located on Howell Avenue, a block north of Oklahoma Avenue. He noted that a group of residents, business owners, parents, and representatives of Parkside, Downtown Montessori Academy, and Saint Lucas Lutheran School formed the Howell Avenue Safety Committee to advocate for traffic calming measures on Howell Avenue between Oklahoma and Lincoln avenues.

Newborn pointed out that there are no traffic controls on Howell between Oklahoma and Lincoln, which he asserted contributes to the careless driving and speeding that make Howell Avenue hazardous to pedestrians. The stretch of Howell serves students who attend Parkside, 2969 S. Howell Ave.; Saint Lucas, 648 E. Dover St.; and Downtown Montessori, 2507 S. Graham St., and includes a crossing for the Oak Leaf Trail. A section of it borders Humboldt Park. During the summer the popular Chill on the Hill concerts series in the band shell generates high traffic volume and is hazardous to pedestrians. Many attendees walk to the concert with their children.

In the past year, safety committee members posted signs along Howell Avenue that admonished drivers to slow down for students and other pedestrians.

Newborn and others at the meeting asked for stop signs or traffic lights, pointing out that the curve on Howell between Dover Street and Russell Avenue posed sightline hazards, putting pedestrians at risk. Ald. Zielinski said that DPW wouldn’t put stop signs or traffic lights on Howell between Oklahoma and Lincoln because the street is a major arterial.

DPW traffic engineer Joe Blakeman said that he had no record of pedestrians being hit in front of Parkside and that parents and kids generally are doing a good job interacting with Howell traffic. Some of the problems with speeding and careless or reckless driving are attributable to the lack of driver education classes in the Milwaukee Public School curriculum, he added.

Several audience members asked for curb extensions in lieu of stop signs or traffic lights. Curb extensions make a section of a street narrower and motivate drivers to reduce their speed. There is a pair of curb extensions on Potter Avenue behind Dover Street School.

Blakeman said that installation of a pair of extensions ranges from $40,000 to $100,000 and DPW’s preference is to put them in place when a street is being repaved.

Another suggestion was made for flashing beacons but it was ruled out by Blakeman who said they cause rear-end collisions. The in-road pentagonal signs, that remind drivers that state law requires they must slow down or stop for pedestrians, were deemed ineffective by Newborn and audience members.

In response to calls for more policing and citations, MPD District 6 Sgt. Eileen Donovan-Agnew said, “We do what we can. We’re focusing on reckless driving.” There are three to four officers charged with traffic duty during the day shift she said. She advised those who know of areas or streets where there is a pedestrian safety issue to call and inform her (414-935-7192) or to contact Community Liaison Officers Joshua Dummann (414-935-7198) or Carlos Felix (414-935-7198).

After considering remarks made by presenters and audience members, Zielinski said he would “try to find funding” for curb extensions for the intersection of Howell Avenue and Montana Street and for another pair near Downtown Montessori.

After the meeting Zielinski told the Compass he’d like to see the Howell Avenue curb extensions installed in 2018, and in 2019 another set on Homer to stem traffic that backs up at Downtown Montessori when parents pick-up and drop-off children.

Blakeman advised those with traffic concerns to contact DPW’s traffic personnel by writing to trafficcalming@

Plan B, Raised Crosswalk Slated for Clement Avenue  

January 7, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Clement Avenue residents hope that the city’s next strategy to calm traffic in front of their homes will be more effective than the large overhead signs that were installed nearly four years ago. Those overhead pedestrian-way signs consisted of a 31-foot mast with a 20-foot horizontal arm that extended 19 feet above the roadway surface.

The signs have not calmed excessive vehicular speed in the stretch of Clement between Oklahoma and Kinnickinnic avenues nor quelled residents’ pedestrian safety concerns, whether they or others are crossing Clement or entering and exiting their cars parked at the curb.

Andy Reid, 2943 S. Clement, has long campaigned for traffic calming measures to slow speeding drivers on Clement. He led the 2012 effort that resulted in the tall overhead signs, although what he had advocated was a four-way stop. At the time he told the Compass, “The traffic on Clement was too fast. I felt a stop sign would slow it down and make the street more pedestrian-friendly and safer for people getting out of their cars. Clement is used as a shortcut from Oklahoma to Kinnickinnic and there are no stops signs to slow [cars] down.”

He said the tall signs over the crosswalk did not slow drivers. This year he and his neighbors once again unsuccessfully launched a campaign for a four-way stop.

“Historically, speed humps have been used on side streets to reduce speeding,” said Zielinski. “But they have not been used on arterials such as Clement Avenue. The reason is that the speed hump is considered too great a disruption to the flow of traffic and can create a safety hazard. They also slow down emergency vehicles too much.”

Because Clement is considered a key arterial, District 14 Ald. Tony Zielinski said that traffic engineers with the city’s Department of Public Works would not support four-way stop signs or speed bumps.

Instead, DPW proposed a raised crosswalk, sometimes called a “speed table.”

“Speed tables are flatter and can be designed for roadways with posted speeds of 25-30 miles per hour,” said DPW’s Sandy Rusch Walton. “Unlike speed humps which are also 3 to 3 1/2 inches high, speed tables or raised crosswalks feature a 10 to 12 foot flat section. Speed tables are not intended to slow traffic already at, or near, the speed limit, but they do discourage speeding of 5-plus miles an hour over the limit, and have been demonstrated to reduce speeds 4 to 9 miles per hour on average. The section of Clement Avenue identified has a posted speed of 25 miles per hour, but has average speeds of 29 miles per hour and an 85th percentile (or prevailing) speed of 33 miles per hour.”

Installation of a concrete speed table would cost between $10,000 and $15,000 based on similar installations in other areas of Milwaukee County.

The current proposal is to install a single raised crosswalk (speed table) at the intersection of Clement Avenue and Dakota Street. Property owners on each block of Clement immediately north and south of the intersection would pay for the cost of installation based on the city’s Neighborhood Traffic Management Program.

Because the project is assessable, Zielinski said that he would survey the residents who would be affected to measure their support for, or opposition to, the project through surveys that would be mailed in December or January.

While this would be the first raised crosswalk in the city, DPW said that similar raised (pavement) projects have been installed in the City of Greenfield on 116th Street in front of Whitnall High School and in the 6900 block of Bottsford Avenue behind Maple Grove Elementary School.

In 2011 DPW said that daily traffic on Clement between Oklahoma and Kinnickinnic was 5,300 vehicles compared to daily traffic of 10,400 vehicles on Kinnickinnic between Oklahoma and Clement.

The overhead signs installed on Clement Avenue to protect the pedestrian crosswalk at Dakota Street cost $8,000 when they were installed in late 2011. They will be removed when the raised crosswalk is installed, Zielinski said.

An Old Fashioned Christmas at Beulah Brinton House

January 7, 2017

There was a full house at the Bay View Historical Society Beulah Brinton home, 25290 S. Superior St., Saturday, Dec. 10.

Children and their families assembled for An Old Fashioned Christmas to listen to Jean Andrews tell stories, David Drake play and sing songs, and Paul Akert tell Father Christmas tales.

The event was presented by the historical society.

PHOTOS Kevin Petajan


PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan

PHOTO Kevin Petajan



New Bay View mural highlights neighborhood’s historic landmarks

January 7, 2017

By Katherine Keller

From left: Susan Ballje of the Bay View Historical Society. Josh Ebert, Tom Aldana, Mike Davenport, and Chacho Lopez are members of the Creative Collective of Artists from Walker’s Point. Member Jon Bartels, one of the mural painters, is not in the photo. Aldana did not contribute to the mural. PHOTO Sheila Semrou

When the Faust Music building came tumbling down last year, the iconic “For A Stronger Bay View” message painted in red letters on its north wall fell to rubble. For decades the sign served as a quasi locator sign at the neighborhood’s northern gateway on Kinnickinnic Avenue at Ward Street.

Now a new mural three blocks south again boldly announces “Bay View.” It is part of the painting that covers the entire north wall of Steve Ste. Marie’s Maytag Laundromat, 2510 S. Kinnickinnic.

“Historic Awakenings” is the mural’s theme, referencing 23 historic Bay View landmarks. A project of the Bay View Historical Society and the Kinnickinnic Avenue Business Improvement District #44 (KK BID), the mural was designed to promote an interest in Bay View’s historic architecture, settlers, and history.

The depicted landmarks are those that were officially designated as such by the Bay View Historical Society.

Susan Ballje, one of the mural project organizers and past Bay View Historical Society president, said the idea for the mural began to emerge as the result of community visioning meetings presented by the KK BID in the past year. “Thoughts of a project to share the past and enjoy the present, and most importantly, to know Bay View’s history, began to surface,” Ballje said. The goal was to  share Bay View’s history and highlight the significance of the area.

Ballje worked with the BID board, including Lee Barczak, Mary Ellen O’Donnell, and Carisse Ramos. Ald. Tony Zielinski advised them about city guidelines. “I supported the mural. We need more murals. Public art is part of our blueprint for Bay View,” Zielinski said.

Ballje and her colleagues sought and received the Bay View Historical Society’s boards’ funding support for the $6,920 project.

“The Bay View Historical Society decided to take on the responsibility (of finding a building and artists) to use the mural as a way to educate the public about the history of the area. We researched murals and looked for funding to support the design, plan, and installation.” Ballje and her colleagues researched murals in Milwaukee, Ashland, Wis., Portland, Ore., and Chicago, Ill.

The  society received a $3,000 Community Improvement Project grant from the city of Milwaukee’s Neighborhood Improvement Development Corporation. The remainder was funded by the Bay View Historical Society through donations made directly for the mural and from allocations from its education and community fund.

The artists they selected, Josh Ebert, Chacho Lopez, and Jon Bartels, are members of the Creative Collective of Artists from Walker’s Point. They are also tattoo artists at Walker’s Point Tattoo Company, 712 S. Second St.

“Susan called our shop and asked if we were capable of doing the mural,” Ebert said. He told her they were, and they were hired. He said she had seen some of their murals and thought he and his colleagues would be a good fit.

A number of buildings to provide “the canvas” were considered but Ste. Marie’s building was selected because it was centrally located with a big wall. “It took much longer than expected to work out contracts and agreements, find the right location, acquire funding, and create a workable design,” Ballje said. Things began to fall into place in early summer but painting didn’t begin until November.

Ste. Marie said that Ballje contacted him in May asking if he’d consider a mural on his north wall. “Anytime we, as property owners, have an opportunity to get involved with a project of this scope and depth, we should give all the support needed to move things along. We take from the community in terms of our sales, but that street runs both ways; we must also give back.”

He said under the terms of his contract, he agreed to keep the building in good repair “and standing” for the next 10 years.

Ebert said the shape and configuration of the wall, the utility meters, window, and the three-dimensional sign in the upper right corner of the wall presented challenges. The design itself required problem-solving because it would incorporate 23 landmarks. “It was difficult to integrate so many elements and still keep a consistent look and good flow,” Ebert said. “The design or sketch was put together in a matter of days, given the tight timeline. The font was chosen by Chacho to give it an ornamental antique look.”

Ebert said Bartels painted the panel with the Copper Beech tree and Lopez painted the “lettering and some buildings.” Ebert himself painted the remainder of the mural, “from the Avalon to about Puddler’s Hall.”

In total, they worked for three weeks. They began by priming the wall with a gray exterior primer to cover the existing white paint. They used spray paint to create the buildings and text. Ebert said they were paid $3,000 for the artwork plus $3,500 for materials.

“The old and the new are represented side by side, honoring the history in a very public setting,” Ballje said. “With stories and landmarks dating from the mid-1800’s, this mural helps to recognize the importance of preservation while changes are made going into the future.” She hopes the mural will stimulate conversation about Bay View history and also curiosity about the buildings that will lead to walking around the neighborhood to find the landmarks.

Ste. Marie is pleased with the finished art. “The mural actually exceeded my expectations,” he said. “It is really one of a kind and adds a lot of character to Bay View. It’s much better than a boring old white wall.” 

The Magnet Factory

January 7, 2017

By Sheila Julson

Wood and metal repair, restoration, conservation

Owner Mike Brylow named his Bay View building, 2424 S. Graham St., The Magnet Factory, a nod to Dings Magnetic Separator Company that once operated there. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

After a century-plus of Industrial Age manufacturing, its vestiges are everywhere — from museums to landfills. While much of the output from decades of manufacturing eventually winds up in a landfill graveyard, people like Mike Brylow seek out our civilization’s discards and gives them new life.

Brylow offers a range of services including the repair, restoration, and conservation of wood and metal antiquities in the Bay View building he’s named The Magnet Factory, 2424 S. Graham St. There he builds custom furniture from reclaimed material, but he also services and repairs vintage automobiles. Air-cooled Volkswagens are his specialty.

Mike Brylow offers a range of services including the repair, restoration, and conservation of wood and metal antiquities in the Bay View building he’s named The Magnet Factory, 2424 S. Graham St. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

Brylow, who has lived in Bay View for most of his life, worked as an auto mechanic for 30 years when he sustained his second severe foot injury. The injury knocked him back for four months. While he recovered, he reevaluated his direction and path and led him to the decision to pursue his interest in restoration work.

From his teens on, he had a strong interest in automobile repair. His neighbors were car guys, and he was the curious boy who often rode his bike to watch them work and ask what they were doing. He learned more from a friend’s father who let him watch as he worked on cars and occasionally allowed Brylow to help.

Later a friend got him involved in restoration work. “During the 1980s and 1990s when the antiques business was thriving, I got to work with him. It was fun to take something that exists or is ready to be thrown away and turn it back into the world again,” he said.

When he decided to pursue a new direction, he looked for a building. He had always been intrigued by the “mystery building” on Graham Street. He discovered it was owned by James Zvonar. Prior to Brylow’s purchase, the building served as a warehouse for Industrial Machinery Corporation, a company that buys, sells, appraises, and auctions metalworking equipment.

Zvonar had received offers from others who wanted to purchase the building, Brylow said, but he was never able to make a deal. But the timing was right for Brylow and Zvonar and everything fell into place. He purchased the property from Zvonar in 2012.

Brylow noted that King Lofts owner Scott Genke, a good friend, also contacted Zvonar about purchasing the building, but two days after Brylow. “Had I not taken action when I did, he would have bought the building,” he said.

Thus began a two-year long renovation process that involved acquiring special permits for his restoration work, as well as constructing living quarters in the building, where he and his wife now live.

Mike Brylow’s Magnet Factory office is furnished with antiques and heated by a wood-burning stove. PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

“It was in horrible shape,” Brylow said. “Windows were boarded up and were either smashed out or rotten.”

Brylow’s knack for finding the unusual led him to windows from an old East Side apartment building that he purchased for $15 apiece. “They originally mounted vertically, but we turned them sideways and they fit perfectly,” he said.

His passion for unusual automobiles is obvious while strolling through his shop.

Brylow pointed out a turquoise-colored 1947 Crosley once owned by the Madison Shrine Club. The Shriners, who used it as a clown car for parades, modified it by adding an extra exit. Brylow is restoring the vehicle to its original condition “from the ground up, every nut and bolt.”

Crosley automobiles were manufactured in Indiana on and off between 1939 through 1952.

The Shriners used this 1947 Crosley as a clown car for parades. They modified it by adding an extra exit. Brylow is restoring the vehicle to its original condition “from the ground up, every nut and bolt.” PHOTO Jennifer Kresse

He’s currently working on a 1950s GMC tow truck for a friend. Brylow said rumor has it the truck was an Indy 500 vehicle, but he has to research that claim. “It’s much more ornamental than your average tow truck,” he said.

He recently restored a step van for Chris Keidel of Mobile Bike Werx, a Bay View business that offers onsite bicycle repairs. Brylow sandblasted the vehicle to a raw, shiny aluminum. “You’ll definitely notice it when he’s out and about,” Brylow laughed.

Another project on Brylow’s shop floor is a 1972 2-door Honda 600. He said it’s one of the very first Hondas that was imported into the United States. He’s also working on a 1973 Volkswagen van.

Brylow is a skilled woodworker who crafts objects from salvaged materials but also makes custom builds. He’s often worked with wood from bowling alleys, transforming the sturdy wood into tables and countertops.

Some of his repurposed bowling alley wood can be found in Scott Genke’s King Lofts building.

One of his treasures is a railroad stationmaster’s desk that he estimates is from the 1880s, the height of the steam railway era. He left the original teal paint in place and reglued and reclamped it, making it structurally sound. He noted that painted furniture is hot these days. “In the past, I would have stripped it and refinished it. There’s beautiful oak under there, but painted furniture is the trend right now, so painted it is.”

Brylow also uses his Magnet Factory to host events. He’s participated in pop-up art shows and Bay View Gallery Nights.

He recently partnered with From Here to Her, an alliance of Milwaukee-based female artists. “When we bought the place, we knew we wanted to share it with the community,” Brylow said.

He will also use the building to host his daughter’s wedding this spring.

Despite the many projects he’s worked on over the years, he has no favorites. “It’s fun to just open the door every day and see what’s here,” he said, “You really can’t have a bad day in this place.”

The Magnet Factory’s name is a nod to the heritage of his building. Situated on an unassuming end of a very short street, the building once housed Dings Magnetic Separator Company, now known as Dings Co. Magnetic Group, located in West Milwaukee.

Currently, Brylow has about 5,000 square feet of workspace for his projects.

Brylow said his business has always been generated by word-of-mouth and is by appointment only.

The Magnet Factory
2424 S. Graham St.
(414) 412-7293 + Facebook

Sheila Julson is a freelance writer and regular contributor to the  Bay View Compass. 

BOOK REVIEW — An Illustrated History of Cudahy Commerce

January 7, 2017

By Katherine Keller

Many things came to mind as I read and gazed at Rebecca Roepke’s and Michelle Gibbs’ excellent historical photo essay, Cudahy: Snapshots of Commerce.

Having worked as a picture researcher for a publishing house, I was dazzled by the quality and depth of the historical photos the authors accessed. The narrative is equally compelling, though it is sparse because it is conveyed solely via photo captions. But instead of a random pastiche, the story is told cohesively in a highly readable narrative, no small feat.

The story begins in the last part of the 19th century with photos of Cudahy’s big factories and charming images that capture ordinary people in domestic and workplace interiors, including one from the 1920s of Mattie Moriarty playing a grand piano for the employees of Cudahy Brothers in a park.

The introduction and first chapters describe the history and growth of Patrick and John Cudahy’s meatpacking business from small shop to empire, as well as Patrick’s personal vision for the community he founded and fostered.

In 1878, Patrick and John acquired the Plankinton and Armour meat packing plant in the Menomonee River Valley where Patrick had worked his way up from laborer to superintendent. In 1892 they moved their operation to farmland purchased south of Milwaukee. That parcel and the surrounding area would eventually become the city of Cudahy. The meatpacking business was originally named Cudahy Brothers but was changed to Patrick Cudahy, Inc., in 1957, 38 years after Patrick’s death in 1919.

The book’s second section spotlights other industries including a number of immense companies, by early 19th century standards, that sprang up, flourished, and vanished.

The Worthington Pump and Machinery Company was incorporated in 1916, operating in an area that covered 28 acres. By 1924 it was out of business. George Meyer Manufacturing Company bought the property four years later. Meyer made bottle-washing equipment used by breweries, dairies, and soda makers. In the mid-1950s Meyer employed over 1,500 people. The plant closed in 1985.

The buildings of Milwaukee Vinegar Company and Red Star Yeast stood on the bluff overlooking Lake Michigan and served as a navigational aid for freighters from 1903 to the 1950s, when the land was sold to Milwaukee County Parks.

From left: Rose Gray, Leona Kramer, Rose Gresk, Mrs. Bruttig, and George Ponto, employees of the Federal Rubber Company with a sign advertising automobile inner tubes, portrayed in a 1919 promotional photo. Women played a key role during World War I, filling in for the male employees who left to serve in the military. PHOTO Courtesy Cudahy Family Library

The Federal Rubber Company, also long gone, once churned out 18,000 tires a day in its plant on Layton where Angelic Bakery operates today. By the late 1920’s the company employed more than 1,500 people.

Ladish, another of Cudahy’s industrial behemoths, unlike many of its kin, is still in operation. The Ladish Company was established in 1905 by Herman W. Ladish, who began his forging business by purchasing a steam hammer. By the 1950s his company employed 7,000 people and for decades has manufactured parts for the aviation, aerospace, and nuclear industries, among others.

Roepke and Gibbs included numerous mom-and-pop shops, like that of Christ and Alma Becker who sold coal, wood, and building materials. George Ponto is depicted in a regal pose in the lobby of the Coliseum Electric Theater, Cudahy’s first motion picture house. Many readers with Cudahy roots will recognize family surnames and remember some of theses small businesses. Others may only the recognize the buildings that housed them.

The authors close with Cudahy’s revitalization that began in the 1970s.  Highlighted are some of Cudahy’s newest businesses — Angelic Bakery; Cudahy’s Supermarket; CLE Haven Cudahy, an assisted living center; Lala’s Place, a Mexican restaurant;South Shore Cyclery; and Disc Go Round, among others.

For readers not as familiar with Cudahy as the authors, some may be frustrated with the lack of detailed location information for the  featured factories and other buildings.

The history recounted by Roepke and Gibbs is richly underpinned with images from the Katherine Quentin Eaton Local History Collection of the Cudahy Family Library, a treasure trove, judging from the examples in the book. The authors, employees of the library, are currently working on a book about the history of Cudahy’s pioneer families.

The Cudahy library archive consists of historical materials and photographs given by the Cudahy family, local businesses and organizations, and individuals.

Cudahy: Snapshots of Commerce is part of Arcadia Publishing’s Images of America series that includes Cudahy: Generations of Pride, by Joan Paul published in 2002, also illustrated with remarkable historic photos.

Cudahy: Snapshots of Commerce
By Rebecca Roepke and Michelle Gibbs
128 pages, Softcover
Arcadia Publishing; $21.99

The Cudahy Consumers Cooperative was formed in 1945 by 15 employees of the Cudahy Brothers Company. In 1946 the co-op purchased and remodeled Edward Petri’s store on the corner of Packard and Squire avenues. Customers waited in line (above) on opening day, April 27, 1945. When the co-op closed in 1958, Albert Dretzka purchased the property. PHOTO Courtesy Cudahy Family Library

George Ponto (above) and his brother Arthur Ponto opened the Coliseum Electric Theater in 1908. It was Cudahy’s first motion picture theater. The lobby, where Ponto posed for this photo, included an ice cream parlor. During the day, the theater served as a shooting gallery. The Pontos sold the theater to Jacob Disch in 1910. PHOTO Courtesy Cudahy Family Library

Do you remember The Cudahy Reminder-Enterprise? It began as the Cudahy Enterprise in 1907 and was created by Thomas McElroy and his son Sheridan McElroy. Their first issue was published October 17, 1908 and remained in publication until 1951 when Leo Stonek purchased it, merged it with the Cudahy Reminder-Regional Press, and renamed it Cudahy Reminder-Enterprise. PHOTO Courtesy Cudahy Family Library

Winter wonderland

January 7, 2017

By Jill Rothenbueler Maher

Imagine an entire hillside peppered with kids and parents enjoying sled rides on new fallen snow at South Shore Park. Last month, someone posted a picture of this wonderful scene to a popular Facebook page about Bay View and lots of you saw it and liked it. My family didn’t hit the hill that day, but had our fun in a friendly snowball fight.

Low-stress outings like sledding with friends are one of my favorite things about winter. All that’s needed are a few texts between the parents and then, simply, we’re  on the hill together. Nothing to stress over (until the kids get cold and hungry). It’s a different kind of fun than the December whirlwind of making dishes for the extended family potluck and then dressing up for the school performance.

I’m resolving this winter to relish the fun aspects of the season rather than just waiting for spring to roll around. We enjoy ice skating and can do that without spending much money since I own skates and only have to rent one pair for our daughter. I’ve been to the famed Rockefeller Center ice rink in Manhattan (which includes a VIP igloo) and to one near Washington, D.C.’s Smithsonian museums. Those locations are cool but I’m happy to be in downtown Milwaukee where we can skate for as long as we like at low cost and without big crowds.

Winter is also great for baking and I’ll get that going again once I work off last month’s indulgences. My daughter and I enjoy baking together and sometimes even use it for practice with fractions or to test a lighthearted hypothesis, for example, which type of chocolate melts faster atop peanut butter cookies — low-cost family fun that’s better in cold temperatures.

Our family loves to read and we can enjoy that, or a Packers game on a Sunday, without feeling like we should be outside enjoying the sunshine.

Summer, with its abundance of daylight and invigorating bike rides, won’t lose its number one status for me, but winter has a lot going for it. I hope our daughter grows up knowing that there’s tons of fun to be had all year.

The author is a freelance writer and mother of one. Reach her with comments or suggestions at 

IN BALANCE — Welcome to your future

January 7, 2017

By Sheri LM Lee

Well, it’s time for a restart. Welcome to the New Year or as my oldest son once said when he was four, “Welcome to your future.”

Maybe you fantasize about time travel and would like to  go back to the time before the election, before the loss of Prince and Bowie, or if you just wish to reminisce about better days, perhaps we can commiserate together as we move forward with a little grace. I look for peace as I strive to look ahead, and not behind.

We are now facing the dead of winter. Seasonal emotions of grief, fear, or worry and a decrease in social behavior expressed as introversion and seclusion may be more pronounced at this time of year. According to Chinese medicine, there is a connection between our emotional, physical, and spiritual health and the seasons and our external environment. I enjoy contemplating these connections. I’d like to share a few thoughts that comfort me and give me a sense of peace and the motivation to move forward in times of change, whether in a new year or a new season.

The dog days of summer refer to the hottest and most uncomfortable days. These days are a time of stagnancy resulting in a lack of progress. The dead of winter is much the same. It is a time to move inward, to conserve energy, and restore. Our daylight hours flee quickly and we are given little time to roar with our yang fire energy. Instead we are forced to abide with our yin energy and contend with the cold around us. We retreat, just as animals hibernate. But this is not a sign of weakness. It is a time to bring forth strength. This is our time to sit back, reevaluate what’s most important, and ponder what we plan to grow this spring. As for myself, l will be planting seeds of love.

Winter is represented by the element of water. Water is the tap from which ideas flow and is a source of creative energy. It is found in times of laziness or nothingness, when we truly give in to downtime to revitalize. Take some time this winter to find peace and restoration.

Sheri Lee, MSOM, C.Ac, LMT operates 8 Branches Chinese Medicine, where she and her colleagues provide holistic health care for the whole family. More information at:  Disclaimer: The information provided in this column is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or care.  

2017 market may favor buyers

January 7, 2017

By Toni Spot

Toni Spott

So you survived the New Year Celebration! Happy New Year! Woo!

So did the housing market.

Let’s take a look at the home sales in 53207 zip code for 2016. Note, the numbers in the table below do not include December and are for single-family homes only.

So what this tells us is the average home sold for $160,000 in Bay View and the average time it took to sell a home was 74 days. Not bad.

This also tells us that Bay View is still affordable for first time homebuyers. Keep in mind that these numbers show the average price for home sales in three price categories. As you can see the home sale prices reflect a range from $20,000 up to $500,000.

Real Estate in 2017
There are mixed opinions about how the 2017 real estate market will play out on websites such as Kiplinger, Inman, Realtor, and Forbes. One thing is certain, with interest rates moving up and inventory slowing down, change is in the air.

There has been low inventory in Bay View for the last few years, which caused the market to be a seller’s market. It is predicted that this trend will continue in the early part of 2017. Realtors are finding that a good majority of homeowners are staying in their current homes and fixing them up to meet their needs instead of moving to a different home.

Some real estate analysts predict an uptick in home sales in the first part of the year while others predict a steady market in the beginning of the year with a slow down in the latter half and then leveling out.

If, as predicted, there is a shortage of homes on the market, some forecast that the market will be changing near the end of 2017.

Some analysts are predicting a mild recession in 2018. That is a ways off, so we shall see.

So what is the bottom line? If you are thinking of selling, listing in early 2017 is imperative to avoid getting caught in the anticipated mid-2017 slowdown and the expected shift to a buyer’s market in late 2017 and early 2018. However, keep in mind that the market is ever-evolving and people are always moving and putting homes on the market.

It is also noteworthy to remember that there really are no seasonal markets anymore because everyone can shop for homes 24/7 on the internet. So waiting for the “spring” or “summer” market may cost you money.

There is no crystal ball in real estate. The market, as always, sets the price. And in most instances, the market for a home is the price a homebuyer is willing to pay for an individual home.

Wishing you a most Happy New Year!

Toni Spott
 Sustainable Agent
Keller Williams Realty; 414-788-4255
Facebook: Toni Spott’s Real Estate Resource

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