HPC to decide on new house downtown

Sarah Wibell News

In Madison’s Historic District, one new house may be built while one old house will receive long overdue repairs. Madison’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) reviewed two applications last week, one proposing a new house to be built upon a small lot behind Whidby’s Jewelers on Second Street and the other proposing desperately-needed repairs to the historic Foster-Thomason Miller house on Main Street.

The HPC was wary of the conceptual design for the new house on Second Street. While HPC Chair Flynn Clyburn shared that they had a 98 percent approval rate on proposals brought to them, the commission struggled over a conceptual review of a primary structure on Second Street. As a result, no decision was made.

In the proposal by Jeffery Royal, presented to the HPC by Everett Royal, the plan for a two story 40×40 foot residential home with a two-car basement-garage was deemed too large for the size of the 0.08-acre lot situated directly behind Whidby Jewelers. The style of the house was based on 172 North Main Street. However, City of Madison Preservation Planner and HPC Staff Ken Kocher did note that the modelled building’s original structure was only 24 feet wide.

All but two of the commissioners present – Jane Royal, who recused herself from the room, and Brad Rice – preferred a residence to be set back from the curb, which would cause planning difficulties based on the lot size.

Commissioner Charles Dorr shared, “I’m troubled by the size of the structure on that little lot. I think it’s still too big.”

Commissioner Cherie Vaughan concurred, “Visually, I don’t know if it’s appropriate for that lot.”

The commissioners shared ideas and possibilities with Everett Royal on the concept of the structure. As a residential home, the majority of the HPC wanted a style in keeping with Second Street and set back from the curb. However, if plans are altered to accommodate a small industrial building in the manner of the old livery stable or what was the cotton warehouse that now serves as the Bank of Madison’s accounting building, then a zero-lot line would more likely be approved by the HPC.

The property under consideration was only brought forward for a conceptual review. The HPC’s approval of the concept is required before an application for a Certificate of Appropriateness (COA) can be submitted.

The proposal for the Foster-Thomason-Miller house sailed through the HPC’s approval process.

The Madison-Morgan Conservancy’s repairs to the Foster-Thomason Miller House were approved by the Historic Preservation Commission (HPC). A short-term fix to the roof expected to last for two years, installation of plexiglass window, and adding a tarp to parts of the roof were the main requests.

Conservancy Chair Christine McCauley stated, “We are under contract and hope to close on May 7.” The stabilization of the house is being undertaken by the organization until a conservation-oriented buyer is found who will fully restore the structure.

McCauley clarified, “The Conservancy will require the new land owner to do certain renovations according to a set timeline. We want someone to buy it who will love and protect it. We won’t own it long, we hope.”

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