Community Building and Restoration
Custom Garage on Historic Wahl Ave
Our fair city is the fortunate host of more than its share of beautiful old homes—works of art dotting the city with increasing concentration as one nears the lake. There is a philosophy about these artisinal masterpieces that holds that they belong not only to their current residents but to the public at large. This philosophy will, I think, be borne out by time. The houses will remain; the most any of us can hope for is to pass through them, as tenants, care-takers, and admirers. If appropriately loved, a house as public work of art will endure and flourish, all but forgetting our brief private intrusions whose mark upon them should be minimal.
There are some extremes to which I don’t expect this philosophy to be taken. After all, a house is also a site of privacy, comfort, and respite. Remodeling will be done, improvements imposed; marks will be made. A house is a living thing that will reflect its generations of inhabitants as well as a dialectic with its many historical moments—the fashions, styles, and innovations inscribed by time.
In 2005 I had the pleasure of collaborating with Jeff and Kristi Leswing to make a mark upon their Wahl Ave. home that does both the house itself and the current Milwaukee Renaissance of historical restoration proud. We removed (or rather Jeff did) a thoughtless and inappropriate garage built during a time less attuned to the philosophy of the house as a public work of art and put in its place the “carriage house” you see here.
The needs of the original house, the neighborhood, our collective investment in our lakefront were put before both the Leswing’s budget and convenience and my bottom-line. No energy or cost was saved in reproducing the appropriate architectural style, or in repeating the house’s careful decorative details. Notice the exposed rafter-tails, the swooping roof-line with its curved profile, the scalloped gable, the fine wooden doors. With luck the carriage house built by me and Jeff and Kristi, by Paul and Jim, by Todd, Mary, Brian, Drew, Michael, and Karl will remain and endure as a testament to our collective care for our city’s past and for its future.
—Erik Lindberg, Owner (or caretaker of), Community Building and Restoration, LLC.
Montezon Photo Essay Project