My name is Janelle Gramling. I have a busy and colorful life that I have built with my husband here on Layton Boulevard. The story of how we ended up in our big, beautiful home over a decade ago is pretty interesting.
In 2004, while looking for a fixer-upper to move into, my husband, Matthew, and his brother, Jeremy, had found a home named after their family on the register of historic places. The Manegold/Gramling home, a beautiful brick and stucco Tudor built in 1913, was for sale after being boarded up for several years due to damage from arson. The Historic Layton Boulevard Association had saved the home from being condemned by working to add it to the historic registry. It was designed by A.C. Eschweiler and was the home of a prominent doctor in the community for over 30 years, Matthew’s great-grandfather.
Matthew and Jeremy bought the home together and began working on it day and night. I had helped too, but I was limited in what I could safely do since I was pregnant. We had been restoring the home from total dilapidation, and there were a lot of dirty, dangerous and overwhelming projects.
In March 2005, after eight months of work, electric wires were still hanging out of the walls and ceilings, building materials were tucked in the closets of most rooms, and the backyard was full of old shingles and nails. We moved in a few pieces of handed-down furniture, began sleeping there, and three days later welcomed our daughter into the world.
In the past decade we have gotten married, welcomed more children, and completed many, many more home projects. My brother-in-law has moved out, as myself, Matthew and our four children have completely filled our home up with lots of love, noise and messes.
In addition to building our home and our family, Matthew and I have both started and built up our own businesses while living here on the boulevard. Now we work in a shared studio/shop nearby on 23rd and Scott Street. I am a fiber and ceramic artist and Matthew is a woodworker.
The thing we love most about our neighborhood is the authenticity. There are real caring and hard-working families here, and there are a lot of residents who work tirelessly to keep a sense of community and make positive things happen for everyone. We love the beautiful architecture of all the century-old homes on the boulevard. We love Mitchell Park, and visiting the Domes year round. At least once a week during the summer, the whole family will hop on our bikes and take the Hank Aaron Trail through Three Bridges Park and into West Allis. We also take the path east along the river up to Freshwater Way to grab an ice cream cone at Purple Door.
During the winter there is less to do outside, of course. We get a little stir-crazy. So when we were asked to do this photo story project, and got the suggestion of going for a walk up the boulevard, I was happy to oblige. Our 10-year-old, Mara, and I bundled up and took my camera south. We didn’t make it as far as we had hoped because a cold rain started and we hastily ran back home. But we did snap some pictures and had a good time doing it. We hope you enjoy them.