Interviewed by Stephanie Geaslin
To find your passion in life is one of the most rewarding things to experience. Geoff Grohowski, believes he has been fortunate enough to discover his passion for art and design and to implement that love into his everyday life.
As a young boy, Grohowski remembers riding the bus down Sherman Boulevard with his grandmother and admiring all of the beautiful homes. He even remembers seeing his current residence and liking the exposed rafter tails in the building. This childhood admiration for the beautiful homes in the neighborhood led to a distinct educational trajectory for Grohowski. He attended Peckham Junior High School. (The school was renamed Jackie Robinson Middle School and today, the building houses the Sherman Park Senior Living Community.) Later, he attended Custer High School, now Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education. Here, he became aware of his love for art and design. After high school, Mr. Grohowski went on to attend UW-Milwaukee to study art. Afterwards, he continued his education at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) where he studied architectural technology. When he was young, he wanted to be an architect or industrial designer, but was told that he wasn’t good enough at math to make it in those careers. Now, he chuckles lightheartedly at this thought, saying “Hey, there are engineers for that part!” After college, he became an architectural drafter and continues to maintain a love for architecture and design.
Grohowski’s passion for architecture led to his love for his neighborhood. Mr. Grohowski is part of the Sherman Park Community Association (SPCA). His involvement with this group extends to activities around preservation and care for the built environment of this neighborhood. He participates in the annual housing survey which helps identify issues of home maintenance. Surveyors record homes that need tending and repairs. SPCA sends letters to homeowners whose home need repair. The organization tries to be supportive of the people who want to maintain their homes but may not be able to afford it through securing home-improvement grants. The annual survey also helps identify patterns of home repair and investments within the neighborhood. Grohowski believes that, as a community, a push to maintain the character of the streetscape is essential to the betterment of this neighborhood. He appreciates responsible landlords and credits them for maintaining the physical quality of the neighborhood by tending to their homes and streets.
Grohowski talked about designated historic districts in the area and compared Sherman Boulevard to Grant Boulevard, a district deemed historically significant in the early 1990’s. He worked with others in crafting the Historical Designation of Sherman Boulevard. On January 24, 1995, North Sherman Boulevard became a Local Historic Preservation District. This designation extends from Keefe Avenue at the north end to Lloyd Street defining the south border. Mr. Grohowski is also involved with the Milwaukee Preservation Alliance, a non-profit organization that focuses on restoring buildings to their original glory. He has become an excellent spokesperson for the neighborhood and a historic preservation activist in Milwaukee.
As a friendly neighbor, a preservation guide, and a technical architectural connoisseur, Geoff Grohowski and his story provide a powerful insight into the community. When asked what he would tell perspective homeowners in order to persuade them to move to Sherman Park, Grohowski referenced the increasing diversity of the neighborhood, stating “It’s better for everybody to have a mix.” He praised the beauty, historic significance, and affordability of the homes, and mentioned the many residents who are dedicated to making the neighborhood a better place. Grohowski has a vision for Sherman Park’s future. He wants it to thrive in its diversity. He would love to see more businesses come in to enhance that diversity. He envisions shops and restaurants that would make the people feel at home and provide them with entertainment. He wants the commercial streets to become destinations. Grohowski’s knowledge makes him a great representative for this increasingly powerful and thriving neighborhood. He chuckles at the thought of becoming a tour guide of the area. As he states, “It looks good and it feels good to be a part of the community.”