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Historic Steensland House At Bethel Lutheran Church Back In News

August 19, 2013


In January 2011 I wrote the following.

…Bethel Lutheran Church is looking to build ‘bigger and better’ and in so doing move a historic house from the Victorian age that sits on their property. I read in the Wisconsin State Journal this morning that the Steensland House that was constructed in 1896 ‘stands’ in the way of the church’s desire to build a multi-story building with 3 or 4 levels of underground parking.   After reading the story I instantly took the side of the forces working to see that the interest of the house be represented. When I read that  Bethel Lutheran Church had fought against the placement of the house on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974 I felt sad and also embarrassed for the lack of perspective that church leadership had displayed.  The building is also listed as a city landmark.

Now comes the latest news about this wonderful old building that so many around the city care about.

The latest plan for the historic Steensland House in Downtown Madison would  still move the city landmark but only within the block where it now sits.

Historic preservationists, while not thrilled with the idea of moving the  117-year-old structure at all, say it’s an option they can live with. A previous  plan, opposed by many in the neighborhood, called for moving the house to a  vacant lot on a nearby block.

“It seems like a good compromise,” said Fred Mohs, who represented the  Mansion Hill Historic Neighborhood during recent talks on the house’s fate.

The 1896 home, 315 N. Carroll St., is owned by Bethel Lutheran Church, which  is on the same block and wants to move the house to make way for a $15 million  expansion.  

It is a sad state of affairs that it is not just a common reaction to take the steps needed to preserve and care for these wonderful old homes, and not resort to the lengthy and needless maneuvers that Bethel has tried to employ regarding this matter.  I get the fact they are growing larger than they can handle and need more space.  But the care for historic homes needs to come first.

One Comment
  1. Solly permalink
    August 21, 2013 9:43 PM

    damn them for trying to manage their own property!

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