New Beginnings

A couple trades one quintessentially Madison neighborhood for another

Steve and Shirley Crocker's colorful and eclectic living room. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE CROCKER HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Steve and Shirley Crocker's colorful and eclectic living room. SEE MORE PHOTOS OF THE CROCKER HOME IN THE SLIDESHOW BELOW.

Steve and Shirley Crocker’s last house was classically Madison. A large historic home Steve grew up in, it was full of character like those around it in the Vilas neighborhood, and close enough to the zoo that they could hear the lions roar.

But as their daughter Sarah prepared to leave for college at Northwestern, they saw their lives transitioning and decided it was time to downsize.

Given their jobs—he’s the U.S. Magistrate Judge with the U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin; she works from home as a computer consultant with Virtual Partners in Seattle—the Crockers decided to do some downtown condo hunting.

After checking out several developments in fall of 2007, they took a look at the Alexander Company’s new Capitol West project and decided it was for them. The location, the concept and the price all appealed to them, so they were among the first to sign on. “We were in on the ground floor,” Steve says.

The couple moved in August 18 along with their one-year-old golden retriever, Lefty. And although they had no qualms about downsizing—4,000 square feet to 1,800—Shirley took some time adjusting. She missed the sounds and smells of her old home.

That is, until the benefits of downtown living began to work their charms.

Each morning, sunlight streams into their bedroom, and they can see sunsets from their bedroom balcony along with a close-up view of the Capitol. Then, when night falls, Overture Center and the city light up all around them.

Shirley’s home office boasts views of Lake Mendota, while Steve’s colleagues joke that he should install a zipline to commute from home to the federal courthouse. They’re having fun walking to shows and giving all the Capitol Square restaurants a try. And they discovered they can be a one-car family.

The Crockers have also learned their new home is great for entertaining. They hosted their first party this summer to celebrate Shirley’s completing the Ironman Wisconsin triathlon.

And Lefty’s made himself at home, too. He likes lounging on the balconies, and Steve and Shirley take him for walks to nearby parks. “We taught him elevator manners,” he says.

In considering their urban home, Steve and Shirley realize they’ve come full circle. Early on in their relationship they lived in high-rises in Chicago and Washington, D.C., so living at Capitol West feels right.

“We started this way,” he says. “We’re downtown people.”

Katie Vaughn is associate editor of Madison Magazine.

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