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​The Notorious Past and Contentious Present of Mary Nohl's Iconic House

ribarnica, flickr


If you grew up in the Milwaukee area a few decades ago, you knew it as “The Witch’s House.”  Tucked down a dead end road in Fox Point, the wild rumors were put to rest ten or fifteen years ago, as more became known about the house’s inhabitant, artist Mary Nohl.

The house sits behind a forest of trees and concrete sculptures on one side, and Lake Michigan on the other.  It’s nothing like anything else on the block or in the area.

And therein lies the rub.  It’s become a de facto tourist attraction, and the neighbors say they’re tired of the street’s guests at all hours of the day.  They worry what would happen if the house was turned into a museum, which Nohl’s fans would like.

But that’s now a moot point, because Sheboygan’s John Michael Kohler Art Museum is moving the entire thing… somewhere, about 50 miles away.

Matthew Reddin, Assistant Editor of the Wisconsin Gazette, wrote about the saga of the house in the August issue of Milwaukee Magazine. It has received a lot of spotlight from the press because of the strong emotions that it has stirred up within the community.

"I think that it was the conflict that made it noteworthy," says Matthew Reddin. "It is a definitely an interesting piece in and of itself, especially with it being one of the only works outsider or vernacular art that was done by a woman. But I think what made it a magazine-worthy piece was the fact that there was such a strong reaction to it when they wanted to build it into a museum."

Dan Harmon was one of the original members of Lake Effect (formerly At Ten). He started at WUWM in November of 1998 and left December of 2015 after 17 years of production.