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Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 31.0° F  Overcast
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Edgewater looms over historic Steensland House
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The Steensland House
The Steensland House

The question for Bethel Lutheran Church, which wants to move the historic Steensland House, next to the church at 315 N. Carroll St., in order to build a $12 million community center, is where to put it.

The church owns the house, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. "We don't have any [locations that are] unbelievably promising, but there are some possibilities," says the Rev. Bill White, Bethel's pastor. "There may be one or two."

The Landmarks Commission can approve moving the house anywhere, but it would ideally be moved to a spot in one of the city's five historic districts, says commission member Stu Levitan.

"You stick it in the middle of Westmorland [and] it will completely lose its historic context and look woefully out of place," Levitan says. "As with anything else in real estate, location matters."

If the church cannot move the house, White says, it will scuttle plans for the community center because the project would become too expensive.

Levitan fears that political battles will erupt - including an appeal to the Common Council - if the Landmarks Commission denies a request to move the house to spot it deems inappropriate.

"Here's where we start to see the legacy of Edgewater," he says, referring to the council overturning the Landmarks Commission's vote against the hotel redevelopment last year. "Anyone involved in historic preservation for next generation will have Edgewater in the back of their minds."

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