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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Monday, Sept. 22, 2014

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In Travel & Visitors Guide

In Travel & Visitors Guide

In Travel & Visitors Guide

Enderis Park area is among the city's best-kept secrets


It seems quite appropriate that a neighborhood named for a pioneer in education is perhaps best known as a place that is home to many Milwaukee Public Schools teachers and administrators.

But Enderis Park – named for Milwaukee educator Dorothy Enderis (1880-1952), a teacher and assistant superintendent who embraced multi-culturalism and was a key figure in MPS' Recreation and Adult Education programs – is more than just a haven for city workers.

It's a wonderfully green neighborhood full of families, young and old, and a beautiful range of stone and brick homes.

When residents tell people that they've moved to Enderis Park, the response is often, "where?!"

But that's not everyone's experience. Take Lori Sommervold, who has lived in the neighborhood for 15 years and runs the Enderis East Neighborhood Association (EENA), which represents the easternmost portion of the area.

"People I've talked to have usually heard of it," Sommervold says. "It's kind of a little niche here and I think people think there aren't nice homes."

Many people also think the neighborhood – bounded by Lisbon Avenue on the north, Center Street on the south, 76th Street on the west and 63rd Street on the east – is a dangerous one.

What they don't realize is other than the difference in the color of the street signs, it's hard to distinguish Enderis Park from its southern and western neighbor, Wauwatosa.

Enderis Park is a lively neighborhood, with joggers and dog walkers on the streets at all hours and, once the weather turns warm, children playing in front yards and neighbors congregating on the sidewalks chatting.

That's the kind of neighborhood most of us yearn for and when prospective buyers visit the area, they are immediately drawn in. It's what drew Sommervold.

"I thought it had a good reputation as a stable area," says Sommervold, a City of Milwaukee native. "My home has doubled in price. People really take care of their properties around here. But the homes are still reasonably priced. The area is stable; there are a lot of city workers like the area, a lot of families and young children."

The area is represented by two neighborhood associations. The older Enderis Park Neighborhood Association (EPNA) covers the zone west of 67th Street and the EENA the smaller portion to the east. EENA has 90 member households (with 160 members) of 290 in its area, according to Sommervold.

According to Kathy Grothe of the EPNA, formed nearly a decade ago, that group has 122 paid members out of nearly 1,100 households. However, she says, all neighborhood residents receive the EPNA's newsletter and are invited to events.

The latter was formed by Sommervold and others as a response to their exclusion from the older, larger group, which set 67th Street as a boundary and was afraid of growing to large to remain manageable, Sommervold says.

"We have just started to talk to each other and we're at the point where we're working together," she says of the two groups, which between them sponsor a bevy of annual events, from a Fourth of July festival in the Enderis Playfield – from which the neighborhood derived its name – to organized trick or treating, neighborhood rummage sales and other events.

This year there was an Easter egg hunt and a Tour of Homes and Gardens is scheduled for July 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., too. EENA has also been coordinating a neighborhood patrol for a few months now and has block watches on a number of streets and Sommervold says those have been very effective.

"The first Easter Egg Hunt this past Saturday was a huge success thanks to Pam Carroll and her Egg Hunt Committee," says Grothe. "We had approximately 120 participants and all 1,100 plastic candy-filled eggs were found! We had the Easter Bunny and tattoos plus door prizes and prizes for the best Easter Bonnet."

In summer, a number of blocks in the area also have their own block parties and welcome neighbors from other streets. During that season, dog-loving neighbors also congregate twice daily at the playfield – built by the WPA in the '30s and currently undergoing a complete makeover – to chat and let their dogs play.

Many neighborhood children attend MPS' 68th Street School, Mother of Good Council's school and the grammar school at Pilgrim Lutheran Church on Center Street and neighborly bonds are forged at school and church events, including sports events, rummage sales and well-attended wine tastings.

There isn't much retail to speak of in Enderis Park, but there is a lot nearby and residents make good use of eateries like Mama's Italian Cuisine, Ted's and John's Sandwich Shop on North Avenue, Gard's tavern and restaurant on Lisbon and Burleigh, Champion Chicken and Wing's Chinese takeaway on Lisbon.

There's also a Sentry grocery store and a new Sendik's coming to nearby Tosa, as well as a fine butcher shop in nearby Cooper Park: Bunzel's. A Walgreen's and CVS are handy and there's even a chess café in a space once home to the wonderfully-named Rastafari Bronzing.

There is plenty of shopping nearby but far enough away that the quiet neighborhood isn't paved over with parking lots or overrun with traffic. Perfect!

But, rather than live in a Tosa-like Milwaukee neighborhood, why not just move to Tosa?

"I feel committed to the city," says Sommervold – who grew up on 30th Street and Capitol Drive – echoing the sentiments of many in the area. "I want to stay here and make it better."

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