Built in 1917 by Mary Ilsley Uihlein and Robert A. Uihlein, the magnificent Milwaukee home is this year’s showhouse for the Breast Cancer Showhouse for a Cure event. After two months’ worth of work and a preview party on Friday, June 9, the house opened to the public on June 10 and remains open for daily tours through June 25.
“We always knew that we would get involved with the Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse in some capacity,” says Jenifer Tate. Her husband, Joe, is an owner of OnMilwaukee.com. “We’ve lived in this house for six years, and when we moved in we said that we would use it for family and fundraising or we’d move out.”
When the Tates donated their home to the Showhouse Committee, they more or less agreed to surrender their estate to 30 design groups -- most of them local -- for a two-month aesthetic overhaul.
“We moved out April 1, after which all the designers came through, were assigned their rooms, and for that whole month they basically took run of the house.”
The design team of Libby Castro, market manager for Interior Investments, and Mark Larson, and architectural designer at Kahler Slater Architects, were assigned to the Tate home office.
“Our design metaphor for the office is a tailored suit,” says Larson. “In that we see the timeless lines of the modern classic furniture, the structure of the carpeting, the elegant fabrics offering punches of color and luxury. Such is the function of a suit, worn while conducting business, the office is utilized during business hours.”
Castro and Larson added a leather-look vinyl wall covering to the ceiling, custom-designed cabinets for storage, and a window seat and window coverings with fabric by Maharam.
“Jeni and Joe work in the office simultaneously,” says Larson. “As any good suit encompasses elements of masculinity and femininity, non-obsolescence, comfort and practicality, so does this office. The artwork and the accessories we selected are designed to relax them while they work and remind them of their most prized possessions -- family and one another.”
Last year the showhouse event raised $240,000, which the committee donated to the Medical College of Wisconsin for breast and prostate cancer research. This year, Tate says, they’ve set the monetary goal at $500,000.
“We really want to make this a great year and I think we can do it. This event is a great example of what people can accomplish when they work together and contribute what they’re good at to the group.”
The Tates move back into their “showhouse” July 2, and Jenifer says she has plans to participate in next year’s event.
“It’s a huge undertaking, but it’s been a lot of fun and a great experience,” she says. “Everyone did a fantastic job, and I think people really get something unique for their money. You get a lot of design ideas as well as an understanding of the history of the house.”
The Wisconsin Breast Cancer Showhouse was founded in 1998 as an all-volunteer charitable organization that supports breast and prostate cancer research at the Medical College of Wisconsin. Since then, the organization has contributed $2.6 million to the college.
Showhouse tours are Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, starting at 10 a.m. and running through 4 p.m. On Thursdays, tours start at 10 a.m. and end at 8 p.m., and Sundays, tours run from 12 to 4 p.m. The last tour begins 30 minutes before closing and children under age 10 will not be admitted. Tickets are $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Advance tickets are available at Boston Store, Guaranty Bank, Laacke & Joys and Shorewest Realtors. The Web site is wbcs.mcw.edu.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.
As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When OnMilwaukee.com offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”