█ Getting to Know ... Shorewood Hills
So what do you know about Shorewood Hills?
Some Wisconsinites confuse Shorewood Hills with, well, just plain Shorewood. Both are villages, but the latter is in Milwaukee County along the shores of Lake Michigan. Shorewood Hills, on the other hand, is a Dane County community nestled between the city of Madison and Lake Mendota. If you’re looking for a new home in the Madison area, Shorewood Hills would be a far better choice!
This small suburb is a quiet community — home to roughly 2,100 residents. The median household income is $125,000 and the median property value is $627,300. The lowest “sold” price in December 2019 was $360,000 and the highest $2,025,000. The median age of residents is 42.7 and 74% of them are homeowners. Centrally located, the average commute time from Shorewood Hills is just 15 minutes.
Homes here reflect a variety of styles, making the village unique in terms of its architectural style. You’ll find homes designed by — or in the style of — many famous architects, with styles including Prairie, Modern, International and Tudor. Many are on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood is made up of tree-lined winding roads and hills. There are no sidewalks, giving the area and almost rural feel. Situated on the southern shore of Lake Mendota, there are lake homes with expansive shoreline and fantastic views. While some of the other homes may be smaller in size, they all exhibit quality workmanship with an appeal of their own.
If that isn’t enough, consider this, Niche.com ranked Shorewood Hills the #1 Place to Raise a Family in the Madison Area with an overall grade of A+. How can you get better than that? Literally within steps of Madison, you’ll find restaurants, shopping, parks, recreation and more right at your fingertips. The village is especially known for its good schools (the Madison Metropolitan School District), health and fitness, outdoor activities and safety.
Due to its small size — both geographically and population-wise — Shorewood Hills is basically one large neighborhood. As noted above, it’s definitely a great place to raise a family. But due to the older established homes in this area, Shorewood Hills is also attractive to retirees and empty-nesters who may have raised their own families here — and remained in the family home long after the kids have left the nest.
Although most families here have 2 cars, many here also make use of public transportation — especially buses heading to the UW Campus or Capitol Square.
From unique housing styles and great amenities to a warm neighborhood feel, Shorewood Hills has a lot to offer. Take a look — you may feel right at home!
█ Living in Shorewood Hills
Why live in Shorewood Hills? Well, why not?
This Village of 2,100 residents is close to all the amenities of Madison, yet small enough for you to know your neighbors. As a fully-incorporated Village, Shorewood Hills has its own Police, Public Works, Water & Sewer, Utilities, and Administration Departments all right there in the community. Because of its small size, they contract with Madison for Fire Protection and Emergency Medical Services for the safety and security of their residents. And UW Hospital is literally just steps away.
Smaller communities often rely on volunteers to get things done – and that definitely has its benefits. It promotes involvement and a sense of community among the residents. The bond between residents, volunteers and city government is something that Shorewood Hills takes great pride in.
Shorewood Hills’ close proximity to the University of Wisconsin makes it especially popular with anyone that attends the school or works there. Others may just be attracted to the Village’s convenient central near-west side location. And still others may be seeking a lakefront property or simply enjoy the idea of a particular architectural style or an older home brimming with history.
Home prices cover a wide range — depending on location, size of home, and most importantly whether it sits on prime lakeshore frontage. It’s not unusual for homes to range from $300,000 all the way up to a high end of $2 million, with an average of $1,250,000.
The population has grown 32% since 2010. There’s much to like about this small community. The average commute time is a short 15 minutes. One drawback, however, is the cost of living, which bestplaces.net ranks as higher than the US average.
Residents raising a young family are lucky to have an elementary school (a part of the MMSD) located right in the Village. And Shorewood Hills spends roughly $2,000 more per student than the US average. The Village is close to two public libraries — the Central Library downtown and the Sequoia Branch on Midvale Blvd.
There’s a lake, a nice park, a community pool and Blackhawk Country Club all within city limits. And you can’t beat the convenient access to a wide variety of restaurants up and down University Avenue and beyond. With easy driving through town or quick access to the Beltline, it’s easy to get just about anywhere in the greater Madison area. There are several nearby grocery stores — Pick N Save, Metcalfe’s Market, Target, Hy-Vee and Whole Foods. And the recently re-developed Hilldale Shopping Center is a great place to shop and eat — with a wide selection of choices for both. The Center is anchored by Macy’s Department Store and complemented with smaller stores ranging from The North Face to Kate Spade, Anthropologie, Sur La Table and many more.
In short, if you’re looking for a great place to call home, Shorewood may just fit the bill. The Village has it all – a small town feel and big city amenities, combined with wooded lots, unique architecture, and things to entertain and enrich your family all year round.
█ Things to Do in & Around the Village
It’s strange to think that Shorewood Hills was once in a remote location. But that was before Madison began to expand westward, eventually surrounding the Village on three sides. Lake Mendota is on the other. Now it’s in the heart of Madison – and close to all the amenities the larger city has to offer.
Shorewood Hills has an active group of residents, who along with Village departments and administration, work tirelessly to bring the community together.
The Shorewood Hills Community League is a volunteer organization focused on making the Village a better place to live and raise a family.
They sponsor social events, special interest groups, classes and serve as a Village welcoming committee for new residents. They also put together a neighborhood directory. You’re sure to find something among the special interest groups that will strike your fancy. Groups include: book club, bowling, bridge, garden club, cooking, dancing, and a senior group. Events are held throughout the year, including a fall coffee at Blackhawk, a holiday sing-along, an ice-skating party and an ice cream social.
Gardeners may be especially interested in the community Garden Club.
In existence for over 70 years, members meet both to exchange ideas about their own residential gardens and to volunteer to tend the more than 20 flower gardens within the Village.
The Fourth of July has long been a day of celebration in Shorewood Hills, culminating with fireworks at Blackhawk Country Club.
In fact, you don’t have to live here to appreciate the light show! Daytime activities, however, are for the benefit of residents, family and friends. Start your day on a sweet note at the bake sale and art show at the Fire Station. After lunch, it’s all about the kids – as they take part in the Fourth of July Parade starting around the school grounds and ending at the Fire Station. The fun continues with fire engine rides, balloons, games, water balloons and snacks. A family picnic takes place in the late afternoon, followed by the main event — the fireworks show!
Summer is a great time to be a Shorewood Hills resident.
The Shorewood Hills Pool is an 8-lane 50-meter Olympic size pool located in Post Farm Park. The Sharks Swim and Dive Team is part of Madison’s All City Swim league and offers competitive youth swimming for kids through high school. The pool also offers swim lessons, water aerobics, and organizes an annual youth water ballet show. Open swim and adult swim are also a part of each day at the pool. And watch for special events throughout the summer. Pool membership is open to residents and non-residents alike. There is also a Community Center located within the pool building where various Village functions are held.
Blackhawk Country Club is a private golf course located in Shorewood Hills.
This 18-hole course is well-known and respected, enjoyed by many in the Madison area. Because the club is located on Village grounds, lease terms allow Village residents have access to the club and grounds on a limited basis. This includes winter recreation such as cross-country skiing. In addition to the course itself, it’s worth a visit just to catch the breathtaking view of Lake Mendota.
If you’re more of a winter sports person, don’t worry.
Ice skating is available right in Shorewood Hills at the rink located on the Shorewood Hills School grounds. The Heiden family of Olympic speed skating fame, were raised in Shorewood Hills and today the Heiden Haus, named in their honor, serves as a warming house for chilly skaters.
If you enjoy history or architecture, you might want to simply walk or drive up and down the streets of Shorewood Hills to take in the array of architectural styles that can be found here.
From Tudor to modern, International to prairie, you’ll find it here. The most well-known exam-le of prairie style, of course, is Frank Lloyd Wright’s First Unitarian Meeting House. He also designed the John Pew House, built in 1940 along the lake, across from Blackhawk Country Club. Yet another example of a prairie style home is the Harold C. Bradley House. Built in 1916, it was designed by George Elmslie, a student of Louis Sullivan.
Children living in Shorewood attend Madison schools, with the elementary school conveniently located right here in the Village. Students come from not only Shorewood Hills, but nearby University House and Eagle Heights Apartments. Home to many visiting professors, this international element adds to both the educational and social mix of the student body.
And due to the close proximity to University Avenue and beyond, residents have access to a multitude of restaurants, coffee shops, and bars, as well as both grocery and retail shopping IT’s also a straight shot to the UW campus and Capitol Square — along with all the amenities of Lake Mendota.
In addition to community events and offerings, Shorewood Hills is in the perfect location to take advantage of everything that Madison has to offer.
█ VILLAGE HISTORY
It’s no real surprise that many Shorewood Hills homes have found themselves on the National Register of Historic Places. After all, the area got its start way back in the 1800s. There’s a lot of history in this village.
Like many other communities established along the shores of a sizeable lake, the area was originally settled by Native Americans. Here they could set up camp and find food in the nearby lake and forests. In 1936, after Madison became the capital of what was then the Wisconsin Territory, white settlers began arriving in the area as well. Because of its rich potential as farmland, property that would later become Shorewood Hills was quickly claimed for agricultural use.
Wisconsin, of course, became a state in 1848 – and the University of Wisconsin was founded that same year. These two events attracted more and more people to the area, and while many of them settled along the beautiful Lake Mendota shoreline, it took almost 80 years more before Shorewood Hills was officially founded as a village in 1927. Even then, it was in a relatively remote location, far from the Capital City center.
Some of the earliest history is still evident in the Indian Mounds found on the property of Blackhawk Country Club. Created in the shape of animals and birds, these mounds have been preserved and are also on the National Register of Historic Places. The Goose Mound, which overlooks the lake on Blackhawk Country Club grounds, is the most well-known of these. That’s no surprise — it’s one of the largest mounds in Wisconsin.
While Shorewood Hills is now considered one large neighborhood, the village was initially created from two smaller plats —Shorewood and College Hills. Both were thought to have come from the vision of John C. McKenna, one of the first developers in the Madison area. The latter, which was adjacent to the University, was created first beginning in 1912, but was ultimately interrupted by World War I. You can easily recognize that part of the village by its street names — which all bear the names of colleges and universities. After the War Shorewood was established a little further west on Blackhawk Hill along Lake Mendota. By July of 1927 the two plats totaled 52 houses and 206 residents — that then merged, creating the village of Shorewood Hills. In 1957 a small plat known as Garden Homes was also annexed from the Town of Madison.
You many already know that the First Unitarian Meeting House, at 900 University Bay Dr. in Shorewood Hills was designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. In fact, it’s one of his most famous — chosen by the American Institute of Architects as one of his designs that “best exemplifies his contribution to American Architecture.” But did you know that the Wisconsin native grew up near Madison and is known to have designed several other buildings in the area — including The Pew House at 3650, Lake Mendota Dr., also in Shorewood Hills? And of course his famous “prairie style” has cropped up in many local housing styles throughout Madison and Shorewood Hills as well.
But driving down the streets of Shorewood Hills, you’ll quickly notice that the architecture is much more varied than just prairie style. It’s represented by everything from early to mid-century styles, including prairie, craftsman, Tudor, modern and International.
From its earliest days, the residents of Shorewood Hills have prided themselves on the character of both the homes and village in general. And that pride and sense of responsibility continues today. From its storied beginnings to modern day, there’s no doubt that Shorewood is a beautiful place to live.