Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!


Wauwatosa, Redevelopment, Houses

One of the things I love about this city is that it’s a mature, fully built community. With the exception of the County Grounds, whose fate is always precarious, you know pretty much what you are going to get when you buy a home here.

Big trees and human-sized houses with dependable characteristics are the norm, with few scraped landscapes or startling oddities that builders introduced during the mortgage/bubble-housing/boom—disproportionate windows, bizarre angles, bathrooms bigger than living rooms, and design elements that don’t reflect anything structural. We should have known something was wrong with the whole mess just by the way its products looked.

But for the last few weeks the drive to work has been enriched by watching a new house rising from a teardown on a small lot on Wisconsin Avenue near Mayfair Road.

There’s promise of a new start in a fresh house being raised. You don’t know exactly what to expect even from the framing. No longer on autopilot when you drive down the street, you watch closely to see what’s different from the day before.

Dad designed houses, so I grew up on construction sites. He built our house more or less by himself, with the help of a few old Milwaukee tradesmen he’d come to know over the years. For most of my childhood the house was under construction or reconstruction. Maybe it’s the sawdust in my veins that makes my heart leap to the sight of plywood and two-by-fours.

Slow but persistent rebuilding—a house here, a factory there rather than wanton bulldozing of vast tracts—is what keeps a community’s character and strength.

Welcome to the community, New House. May your days be long and the people you shelter be happy. I'm thinking you look a lot like Wauwatosa.

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