Razing ahead?

The former Frank Allis home, now known as San Damiano, could soon be razed if the owners receive a demolition permit. A public hearing on the request will be held Dec. 11.

A 14-room home built in 1888 and listed as a Monona landmark could become the target of a wrecking ball, while the future of the 9.8 acres of land, known as San Damiano, is unknown.

Neither city officials nor the property owners, the Norbertine Order in De Pere, are willing to talk about the future of the site.

Terry Ellenbecker of Hoffman Construction is representing the Norbertine Order and requesting a permit to demolish the house at 4123 Monona Drive.

City Planner Doug Plowman said the local landmarks commission will hold a public hearing on the permit request. The meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, in the conference room at city hall.

“Because it is a local Monona landmark, the request has to go through the landmarks commission,” he said. “They will review the request, and if it is approved, it will be forwarded to the building inspector.”

He said approval by the city council is not necessary; however, if the permit is denied, it can be appealed to the council.

Plowman said the permit is straightforward and does not include any potential plans for the property.

The Norbertines are saying even less.

“St. Norbert Abbey will not be making any statements regarding the property on Monona Drive until after the public hearing,” according to a statement from the abbey’s communications office.

Four years ago, it was rumored the Norbertines were considering selling the property, and city officials expressed an interest in either buying part of it or having a portion deeded to the city for park use.

Nothing ever came of the rumors.

San Damiano was used by Capuchin friars for several decades. Over time, many died or moved away, and the last remaining friar moved away in the spring of 2015 for an assignment in Montana.

The Norbertines were given the property around 1929 and used it for 10 or 20 years.

It encompasses 9.8 acres of land and more than 1,000 of shoreline on Lake Monona.

The house has been altered several times over the years, which prohibited it from earning a state or national historical designation. It was originally an estate built by Allis-Chalmers heir Frank Allis.

According to the Historic Blooming Grove Historical Society, the building on the property was designed in an eclectic style. The Dutch Colonial Revival house fits into a time period when revival styles were popularized. It possesses many Georgian characteristics, such as dormer, fanlights, columns and decorative pilasters. Other unique features include seven fireplaces, an open carved oak staircase and ballroom on the third floor.

In its time, the Allis home was among the first year-round dwellings on the lakeshore beyond the city limits of Madison.

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