November 27, 2022

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Milwaukee woman bought historic Concordia home at age 19

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When other 19-year-olds were out socializing, Sherry Kelly was buying her first home: a historic Victorian-era fixer-upper in the Concordia neighborhood on Milwaukee’s west side.

As soon as the house was hers, she began restoring it to its former grandeur, doing most of the work herself. She hasn’t stopped since.

The Concordia home of Martin Barnard and Sherry Kelly, formerly the home of Milwaukee Mayor Daniel Hoan, is being restored inside and out. Kelly is doing much of the work herself, with help from Barnard and her father.

She says it’s something she loves to do — and something she believes is important.

“It makes my heart happy to see it getting fixed up and looking like it did when it was first built. I’m highlighting how beautiful the house is. It’s worth all the work because I wouldn’t want this house to waste away. I see so many boarded-up houses that aren’t getting loved, and it makes me sad,” she said.

Kelly, now 26, said she’s always loved old homes.

“I grew up in a Victorian farmhouse in Fennimore. I always loved old houses. After my dad (Jerry Kelly) and I moved to the south side of Milwaukee in 2014, we would take drives to look at old homes. We both loved Victorian homes, and we liked to look at all the different architecture. I love all the natural woodwork, the pocket doors and the charm and character of them. It was a fun pastime,” she said. 

On their drives, the Concordia neighborhood was always a favorite.

“I loved looking at all the homes here, especially the ones on State Street,” she said.

She would look at historic homes for sale on Zillow.com, too.

“I saw this one come up for sale. I hadn’t been thinking about buying a house at that time, but that triggered it. I talked to my dad and said I really wanted it — it was so beautiful. I knew it would be a lot of work, but I told him I knew I could do it. I told him that the cost of the mortgage would be the same as rent would cost,” she said.

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