Lorie Koehler has lived in Thurston Woods since she purchased her family’s home in 1982 with the money earned working part-time as a cleaner for Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and while attending the
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee for a Fine Arts degree. Her 30 years in Thurston Woods have been spent involving herself within the community and enjoying what the neighborhood has to offer. When she first moved into the area, Lorie helped with the initial set-up of community gardens on the corner of Florist and 35th Street. In the 1970s, she fought for the preservation of Havenwoods State Forest, taking part in the sit-ins that occurred at City Hall. She was also one of many who fought to keep the Milwaukee County buses running to Thurston Woods.
Lorie, her husband and two children have grown to love their neighborhood and all that the area has to offer. Her sense of place has changed from one that was rooted within the home to one that identifies with the outdoors. This shift occurred after her retirement and as she became more connected within the community. Her family members are avid bike riders and lovers of nature. The four of them make regular trips to Havenwoods to cross-country ski, hike, snow shoe, picnic and watch the wildlife.
House HistoryLorie’s house was built in 1930. The house has six major rooms: three bedrooms, a living room, a dining room and a kitchen. The natural woodwork, decorative siding motif, curved front door and vaulted ceiling in the living and dining rooms represent a formal public front zone. The more private bedrooms serve as functional and intimate spaces. The entrance between dining and living room was possibly widened to give importance to the public areas of the house. The house has been re-modeled in the 1930s and again in the 1980s. We found evidence of re-surfaced wooden floors although much of the original oak and maple wooden floors in the living and dining rooms still remain. The second floor of the house was used as a rental unit during a housing shortage in 1950s. However we found no signs of a separate entry or independent heating controls for the second floor.
The house was empty for two years until the current owner purcased the house in 1982. The original foundation, iron heating vents, gates, mail chute, key holder, garage, shrubbery, the “snowball” plant at the front steps and vines in the back yard are some significant features of this house.