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Landmarks Commission delays friary demolition

The Monona Landmarks Commission delayed a demolition request for the 131-year-old San Damiano Friary at 4123 Monona Drive, so it can learn more about the historical home.

Representatives of the St. Norbert Abbey in DePere, which owns the building, were not present at the Dec. 11 meeting.

According to an updated Wisconsin State Journal report, the Commission is interested in learning more about the home, built in 1888, before putting the issue to a vote on demolition. The former home of Frank Allis, an heir to equipment manufacturer Allis-Chalmers, reportedly has structural issues beyond repair.

For years it was a home for men looking to enter the Norbertine priesthood. Later, it was leased to a Catholic-based organization in Detroit, which used it as a retreat and home for retired priests. The last priest left in 2015, and a couple of renters have maintained it since.

The Madison-based Freedom From Religion Foundation also contacted the city about San Damiano’s tax-exempt status.

St. Norbert Abbey wants to demolish the home, although its plans for the 10-acres of land on Lake Monona aren’t yet known.

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