East side Milwaukee's iconic 'Boat House' for sale

90-year-old owner ready to part ways
Posted at 3:02 PM, Jun 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-06-05 19:56:21-04

MILWAUKEE -- A piece of east side Milwaukee history could be your next home. The home, commonly called "The Boat House," is being offered for a cool $389,000.

The Kortsch family has owned the home for decades but says it's time to set sail and pass the home on to someone else. 

Built in 1922, the house is on the city’s register of historic places as the Edmund B. Gustorf House. It sits on the banks of the Milwaukee River, in the 3100 block of Cambridge Ave.

"There will never be another like it," said Dr. William Kortsch, who purchased the Boat House in 1985. Before that, Samuel Burns owned the home for 35 years. 

The original builder, Edmund Gustorf was a traveling salesman. He began construction at 52-years-old and got the wood for the hull and deck cabin from a Green Bay boatyard. 

Gustorf lived in the home with his wife Lotta until 1939. He died in 1940. 

Kortsch has fond memories growing up on the east side along the river, near the iconic Boat House. 

When it went up for sale, Kortsch says he worried someone would tear it down. 

"I had to buy it to keep this from happening," he said. "It did not have a bright future from a physical standpoint, it was falling down." 

His wife didn't want to live in the home, so instead they lived next door for 40 years. Together, they have six kids and the boat house clocks in at just 550 square feet. 

But it does have two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small kitchen, a dining room, a fireplace and a lighthouse. 

Over the years, Kortsch renovated the home with help from friends and tenants. It has original hardwood floors, oak paneling and a new roof. 

The downstairs also has terrazzo flooring that Kortsch's grandfather installed. Kortsch says he hopes the next buyer will either live in the home, or open it up to the public. He doesn't want someone who is going to try and profit off the house. 

"Even if they didn't want to live there, if they wanted to buy it and have the public see it," he said. "Because everybody asks me 'can we see the inside,' well sure!"

Kortsch is now 90-years-old. He lost his wife a few months ago and said he realized it's time to pull up anchor on the Boat House. 

"I'm coming to the end of my life," he said. "It was a great place to grow up and that's why I want to see it stay that way." 

Because it's on the historic register, the home can never be torn down. The property is offered by Milwaukee Executive Realty. See the full listing here.

If you'd like more information, contact Carole Wehner with Milwaukee Executive Realty by emailing