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Locals disappointed in Abele’s plans to demolish Shorewood lakefront mansion

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SHOREWOOD, Wis. (CBS 58) – Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele recently bought a lakefront home in Shorewood and wants to tear it down.

The house on Lake Drive is almost a century old and some Shorewood residents don’t want to see it go.

The house was designed by renowned architect Alexander Eschweiler. It features a marble staircase and a living room lined with hand-carved mahogany.

"It's a fabulous design that can't be replicated today," Architectural expert Win Thrall said.

Abele bought the home in November for $2.6 million dollars. On Tuesday, paperwork was filed to have it torn down.

Sarah Hambrook’s family owned the home for more than 30 years and was devastated to hear the news.

“I hope they understand the responsibility they’ve undertaken by buying this house,” she said. “The responsibility to honor the history of our city and I would hope as an elected official that he would really feel that very poignantly.”

Abele released a statement saying he loves the neighborhood.

"My fiancé, Jennifer and I love the neighborhood and that's why we are committed to a design that respects and honors it,” Abele said. 

Abele is working with Habitat for Humanity. Parts of the home are being salvaged and sold at Habitat's ReStore in Wauwatosa.

"We brought in Habitat because we love the work they do and wanted to make sure that they could get as much out of the deconstruction process to help their work as possible," he said.

The home is not on any historical preservation lists.

The president of Barenz Builders who will be working on the project released ths statement:

"This was a difficult decision for Chris and Jennifer. They came to us with a request to assess options for renovation of the property and, after much discussion, they decided the magnitude of the project was too overwhelming.

I've worked on numerous properties over the years and this one was in remarkably poor condition. My understanding is that the owners were trying to sell it for at least three years and many, many buyers decided not to take on the project. It would have needed all new mechanicals, electrical and plumbing, removal of lead paint and asbestos to provide a healthy living environment for them and their kids. The extent of that work would have damaged flooring, walls and many of the nicer elements of the house. In the end they decided to start over.

Chris and Jennifer have been very clear with us and their architect, Northworks, about how important it is to have a design that is contextual with the neighborhood and will be a new asset to the community. We are working with their architect to submit the plans as soon as possible so that we can minimize how long the lot is vacant."

The photos below, provided by Hambrook, show some of the home’s features:

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