Venture inside this glamorous abode, filled with bold paintings and brilliant textiles.

“I’m kind of a color junkie,” admits the owner of this 1930 colonial mansion.

It was built for Edmund Fitzgerald, Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co. chairman and namesake for the legendary sunken freighter.

But what makes this 6,462-square-foot home pop – even with its decorative moldings, arched doorways and French doors opening out to the yard – is the extensive art collection. It’s impossible not to feel joyous after entering the long entryway lined with, naturally, art.

“People are stunned when they learn it’s Wisconsin artists,” says the homeowner. Much of the art she owns is by artists in the Dairy State, purchased either directly from the artist or through local galleries, including Tory Folliard and Portrait Society. “I like knowing the artist,” she says.

The home’s Old Hollywood meets fun-and-funky style blends antiques with contemporary pieces. A dining room table once belonged to her grandparents. Two early-American twin beds from her parents’ home were joined together to create a king in what she calls “the green bedroom.”

Two sitting areas lend intimacy to the spacious living room. Oriental rugs from Shabahang & Sons and the shuttered Kashou Carpets – along with a zebra-print bench – complement the vivid art without distracting; photo by Matt Haas

With custom carpet from Carol Snyder & Associates – the homeowner chose blue, green and red hues to integrate the palettes of all the bedrooms – the bed takes on a new aesthetic.

The goal was to combine traditional furniture with items that would lend “an edge and color,” she says, adding that both her parents and grandparents collected early American and English antiques such as Queen Anne, Chippendale and Shaker. “I love using things that were used by my family,” she says. Friend and designer José Carlino helped her finesse this balancing act.

What drew her to this property 15 years ago was access to UW-Milwaukee (“I enjoy the energy of the university,” she says) plus the short drive to arts and entertainment. “It’s like living in River Hills but it’s right Downtown,” she says. Upon moving in – she’s the third owner – few changes needed to be made, thanks to the previous owners. “It was in perfect condition,” she says, although she stained the floors a darker hue and added reclaimed black-and-white marble to the baths. Her current project? Adding more period details to the baths, as if Fitzgerald were to waltz in at any moment.

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A firm believer in cultivating an environment that’s neither fussy nor formal, her Samoyed dog – as well as children and grandchildren – get free roam of the house. “I don’t like a formal feel at all,” she says. “I like it to feel comfortable.”

Nowhere is that mantra truer than in the garden, where the homeowner hosted a “Summer of Love” dinner party series two summers ago, complete with a playlist she curated. “I sort of came of age during the Summer of Love,” she says. Local landscape designer Judith Stark modeled the gardens after writer Edith Wharton’s The Mount estate in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. “My garden has some of the sculpted whimsy but doesn’t come close to the size,” says the homeowner.

More Photos of the 1930s Home


“Welcome Home!” appeared in the October 2018 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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