Civil War-Era Home Saved In Madison


I was very pleased to read in a newspaper today that one of Madison’s Civil War- era commercial buildings will be saved.  I know this flies in the face of those who have no passion for preserving the past and seem rooted to the idea that nothing old has enough value to retain.

This news concerning the building at 502 W. Main Street will be greeted with much applause and support from those who do understand the importance of making thoughtful decisions about such structures.

To think that some condemned the building and wanted it destroyed was simply unacceptable.  I certainly weighed in with my thoughts to the city and made my voice one of the many who recognized what could be gained by preserving it.  As such I want to thank those who also raised a voice and also to the ones with power over the matter to make the correct decisions.

One has to be glad that downtown Alderperson Mike Vereer was a part of the process to find a solution, and for that he deserves our thanks.   What he said truly underscores what many have been saying for months about this building.

With all of the new development that’s gone on in the Bassett neighborhood it’s wonderful we’ve been able to save one of the city’s oldest remaining buildings and put it in a place where the context is not lost,” Verveer said.

The moral of the story, is of course, that preservationists just need to do what is right, and by so doing make others see the light.

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The real estate company Urban Land Interests has agreed to move the house from 502 W. Main St. about two blocks to a vacant parcel of ULI-owned land at 151 Proudfit St. in front of its Tobacco Lofts apartments.

“This is a valuable piece of Madison history we thought could be an asset for that block,” says ULI’s Anne Neujahr Morrison.

The plan is to move the two-story brick building the last week of August, renovate the interior and eventually rent it out as a two-bedroom single family house.

Constructed in 1866, the tidy building has served as a family residence, a hotel, a grocery store, a pizza parlor and a liquor store. Most recently it’s been home to a florist shop with apartments upstairs.

The building is owned by the Keller Real Estate Group, which is looking to develop a $2.5 million four-story mixed use apartment at the corner of West Main and South Bassett streets.

The 18-unit project with first floor commercial space was approved by the city Plan Commission in June but the panel delayed a demolition permit until Aug. 31 to give historic preservationists a chance to save the building, which is being referred to as the Lannon-Hill Home & Store after its 19th century owners.

Developer Bob Keller agreed to work with preservationists and offered to donate the building and contribute the $30,000 cost of demolition to relocating the structure. ULI is picking up the balance of the moving costs which are estimated at over $60,000.

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