Madison City Council voted Tuesday night to protect the views to and from the historical Frank Lloyd Wright Lamp House from further development of the surrounding block.

While the preservation of the view of Lamp House was not controversial, the proposal to preserve the views of Lake Mendota from Lamp House was met with some disagreement.

Bruce Bosben, owner of Lamp House and other properties on the block, spoke against the preservation, arguing the development limitations could stifle economic growth in the area.

“By protecting the lamp house’s external view and imposing a restrictive height limits, I’m concerned the report as written would have unintended consequences inhibiting future developments,” Bosben said.

Ald. Marsha Rummel, District 6, said it is not uncommon elsewhere in the country to preserve external views. She said Lamp House is an asset to the city, especially with its unique location.

Ald. John Strasser, District 14, said he disagreed with preserving the view from the house.

“What I can’t get past is that the view is more valuable because the architect who built the house is Frank Lloyd Wright,” Strasser said. “I have a great view from my living room, and the person who built my house did not create the view. Frank Lloyd Wright did not create the lakes, the trees, put the other buildings around it. The view is secondary.”

Ald. Lisa Subeck, District 1, said the view is part of the house’s historic context and should be preserved as part of the location’s significance.

Ald. Denise DeMarb, District 16, was also in support of preserving the view. DeMarb said part of preserving the view from Lamp House is about giving others the chance to see the house in an environment similar to the original environment it was built in.

“There is a story to be told, and a story to be preserved,” DeMarb said. “I have been to other historic sites – and I’m sure many of you have too – where you’re asked to imagine because you can no longer see. Imagining something because you can no longer see it is not the same. We have the opportunity to preserve the story the way it is meant to be told. I think it’s really important that we don’t destroy the possibility.”

Other city motions Tuesday included the approval of the Alcohol License Review Committee’s decision to extend the Alcohol License Density Ordinance until July 1, and to refer the Vending Oversight Committee’s recommendations on late night vendors until March 18.

 

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