SOS represents a group of residents who are opposed to plans to build a new house on the historic Old Spring Tavern property.
What does the Old Spring Tavern mean to the neighborhood?
In 1854 – shortly before the beginning of the Civil War – the Old Spring Hotel/Tavern, built in Greek Revival style, was a stage-coach stop on the Madison-Monroe road for travelers to and from the western part of Wisconsin.
“A 1929 marker by the John Bell Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution occupies a place on the wall of the Old Spring Hotel/Tavern. Another marker was erected on March 20, 1972, by the City of Madison Landmarks Commission. In 1974, this property was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of the Interior. This hotel/tavern and the property surrounding it has been repeatedly valued and acknowledged by our city, state and nation as a critical part of our heritage,” said Myra Schultz.
Why is it important for neighbors to keep the property as it is today?
The Old Spring Hotel/Tavern is a beautiful building and its adjacent property is beautifully landscaped. A Black Walnut Tree – perhaps 300 years old – sits on the property. It would be threatened, and most probably eliminated, by plans for a buildable lot by the developer, Mr. Gordon. The adjacent land and the landmark tree connects the Old Spring Hotel/Tavern site to the early indigenous inhabitants of the area. “A landmark is not just brick and mortar, but the land and all the stories that happened there. Thus, we are very concerned that any effort to reconfigure the parcel for construction in close quarters to the original entrance of the Hotel/Tavern, and excise key parts of the landscape, such as the landmark tree, will significantly affect the historical nature of the site. We believe in the safe-keeping of our collective heritage, and believe that the landmark is threatened by the lot line changes and any subsequent construction proposed by Mr. Gordon,” said Tom Kuech.
Does the neighborhood experience much new construction?
There is considerable remodeling and renovations of residential homes in Nakoma, but new construction on an empty lot from the ground up would be rare, especially on an historic landmark site.
How does the neighborhood intend to oppose building on the vacant lot?
Neighbors within 200 feet of the property received a postcard notification of a public hearing of the Madison Landmarks Commission. The neighborhood created a petition in opposition to the request by Mr. David Gordon for a Certificate of Appropriateness for land division of the property. The petition was signed by 170 individuals. 167 individuals registered in opposition, and 17 citizens spoke in opposition at the July 11 Landmark Commission meeting. In a tie-breaking vote, with two commissioners absent, the request was approved, with the conditions that the landmark designation remain on the newly configured lots and the applicant submit an archaeological monitoring report for an excavation of the buildable area on the proposed western lot/parcel.
On August 29, Madison’s Plan Commission considered approval of a Certified Survey Map. 160 individuals registered against the proposal. To be respectful of the Commission’s time, three speakers, representing the neighborhood and Madison’s preservation community, addressed the Commission.
We intend to continue to oppose building on Lot 2, as we believe that building a home in close proximity to the Old Spring Hotel/Tavern’s quarters and the Hotel/Tavern’s original entrance, erasing key elements of the landscape, including the historic tree, significantly harms the public’s interest in protecting and conserving historic resources.
We will be placing yard signs to alert people about this issue, and we will be continuing to inform people with a vigorous campaign on social media and via email. This will also be discussed at neighborhood association meetings.
Why would city officials deny a new structure now?
We are hopeful that all decision makers will come and look at the property. Staff have indicated that it had “no information to suggest the resulting lots will not be aesthetically pleasing building sites or a proper architectural setting for the building contemplated on Lot 2.” When you look at the site, you can see the significant and adverse impact that Mr. Gordon’s proposal will have on the historic property.
“We feel it is imperative that staff and commissioners actually visit the site so they can envision how the property would be changed by Mr. Gordon’s proposal.
Maps and photos cannot convey the full negative impact of the proposed new house on Lot 2. Decision makers should see this property in person before making a decision that would irrevocably damage this unique historic site,” said Kevin Pomeroy.