The Lannon-Hill house and store, located at 502 W. Main St. in the Bassett neighborhood, appears to have been built in 1866.
Urban Land Interests (ULI) hopes to move and renovate the historic Lannon-Hill house and store, one of Madison's few remaining Civil War-era buildings, which had been in danger of being razed.
The building is currently located at 502 W. Main St. in the Bassett neighborhood. ULI plans to move it -- possibly next week -- a few blocks away to the intersection of Proudfit Street and Lorillard Court, near its Tobacco Lofts and Seven27 developments.
Keller Real Estate Group, which owns the building, wants to build a four-story, mixed-use development on the site, which includes another house. The project is expected to include 18 apartment units and a small grocery store, although the latter has not been finalized.
Ald. Mike Verveer tells Isthmus he's been working on saving the house. "We don't have many Civil War buildings left in Madison so it would have been a shame to have it end up in a landfill."
According to a report prepared by historian Gary Tipler, the house appears to have been built in 1866 (technically after the Civil War, but still considered of the era) by Bridget Lannon, whose husband Patrick, fought and may have died in the conflict. Tipler says there are "maybe 30 buildings" left in Madison that were built in 1866 or before.
An addition was added to the Lannon-Hill house in 1875. Another Irish immigrant, Patrick Donovan, ran a grocery store there for many years -- for decades, the neighborhood was home to predominantly Irish immigrants. Built in the Greek Revival style, the building is an earlier version of a "mixed-use development," with a store on the ground floor and living quarters above. It was a typical arrangement for family-run businesses of the day.
Despite being one of the oldest buildings in Madison, it is not protected by landmark status. Tipler says this is partly because the building had been altered and for years was covered with pink aluminum siding. Says Tipler: "It was pretty hideous."
Keller renovated the building in the past decade, removing the siding and exposing the original brick.
Bob Keller could not be reached for comment. ULI's Anne Neujahr Morrison says although not all the details have been finalized, the company believes the building will be a great fit next to Seven27 and the Tobacco Lofts. It plans to renovate it as a two-bedroom, single unit house rental.
Many people had been encouraging ULI to take the building, Morrison says. "We want to make sure what happens on Proudfit complements the Tobacco lofts and Seven27," she says. "We look at it as the right thing to do for that building and to preserve Proudfit."
Asked how much it will cost to move the building five blocks, Morrison says, "We don't know yet. A lot." ULI is contracting with Wisconsin-based Heritage Movers for the project.
She says the company hopes to make the moving something of a community event. "It's a momentous thing to see a house go by."
Tipler is thrilled to have the house saved.
"It's to the credit of the owner, Ald. Verveer and ULI to make this effort, even though it's not a well-known historic building," he says. "For them to have spent the time on this is a great thing for the city. And it'll improve the profile of Proudfit a little bit."