When Isral DeBruin, manager of communications and development for Schools That Can Milwaukee, and his wife, Joanna Love, set out in search of their first home, the two knew they wanted to move into one of Milwaukee’s historical keepsakes.
DeBruin and Love, who share a passion for urban renewal, liked the idea of finding something with a lot of potential and history behind it and transforming it to improve a small corner of Milwaukee.
They landed on a Bay View home built in 1914 and in need of significant upgrades. Among the home repair and renovation projects awaiting them were walls to be retouched and painted, hardwood floors to be restored, a furnace that needed replacing, and an exterior wooden pillar that also needed replacing.
While DeBruin and Love have hired contractors to handle some of the more ambitious home repairs, DeBruin has rolled up his own sleeves and gravitated toward renovation projects throughout the two-story house.
Perhaps his most significant do-it-yourself project to date has been the dismantling of a chimney that extended from the home’s first floor up through its roof. DeBruin completed the dismantling largely with the help of Google, where he searched for advice on the tools and process to employ.
In restoring a piece of Milwaukee’s history, DeBruin said he and Love are able to advance Milwaukee in a tangible way. While both have committed their careers to bettering elements of Milwaukee – Love is pursuing child psychology – they don’t always see the direct or instant impact of their work.
Their home renovations give them a chance to step back and soak in their progress.
The progress all takes place in real time and “you can see the results of your work immediately,” DeBruin said.