City of Monona takes over ownership of historic San Damiano property

Madison Skyline From Olin Park

MONONA, Wis. — Nearly nine months after agreeing to purchase the historic San Damiano property located on lake Monona, the City of Monona has officially taken ownership of the land.

The city announced in Sept. 2020 plans to purchase the property to give the public greater access to the lakefront. The land was bought from the St. Norbert Abbey of De Pere for $8.6 million. Dane County leaders contributed $2 million to put toward the purchase.

“There has been an incredible cooperative effort in our community to purchase, protect and preserve what is an unequalled asset on the shores of Lake Monona,” Monona Mayor Mary O’Connor said. “While today warrants a celebration, we also want to take a cue from the property itself to pause, take a deep breath and listen: it is of utmost importance that the process of transforming San Damiano into an asset for Monona and the surrounding region be deliberate, thoughtful and intentional, as well as sustainable in every sense of the word.”

City leaders are working to create a committee that will guide the planning process for the property’s future use. In the weeks to come, Monona Parks & Recreation Department workers will start clean-up efforts including trimming trees, clearing bushes and securing the house that sits on the property.

Friends of San Damiano, a non-profit created to raise money for the site’s development, will hold a community clean-up event on June 19.

“While there is lots to be done in terms of planning for the future of San Damiano, we believe there can be a balance between short-term use and enjoyment as we shape a generational vision for that future,” O’Connor said.

An official celebration is being planned for later this month.