San Damiano Monona

Frequently asked questions

Background and timeline

What was the city’s timeline in deciding to purchase the San Damiano property?

On March 3, 2020, the owners of the property gave the city four months to determine whether it could gather sufficient resources to purchase the property. The deadline was extended by two months due to COVID-19. On September 8, the city council voted unanimously to purchase the property for $8.6 million and control the future of the property.

When will the city actually own the San Damiano property?

The City of Monona closed on the San Damiano property on June 1, 2021. The city now legally owns the property.

Is the public allowed to visit San Damiano now that the city owns it?

Yes, the City and the Friends of San Damiano want the public to experience this one-of-a-kind property. San Damiano is open to the public.

I'm interested in San Damiano, how can I help?

The city and the Friends of San Damiano are very grateful to many in our community who are supportive of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to conserve this iconic property for all to enjoy. Here are ways you can contribute:

If you have a specific skill or way in which you’d like to be helpful now, please contact us at

The purchase

What was the purchase price?

The city purchased the property for $8.6 million.

What is the appraised value of the property?

In 2011, the property was appraised at $10.3 million. In 2016, it was appraised at $8.6 million. In 2020, the property was appraised at $9.82 million. You can view the 2020 appraisal on the City of Monona website.

Where can I see a copy of the 2020 appraisal?

The 2020 appraisal of the San Damiano property is available on the City of Monona's website, at

How will the city pay for the property?

The city is seeking other public funds to supplement the city funds that will be used to purchase the property. $2 million has already been secured from Dane County towards the purchase. Funds are being pursued from the State of Wisconsin through the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program. The city is also partnering with the Friends of San Damiano to reach out to individuals, foundations, and other organizations who have an interest in protecting and conserving this property.

What will happen if the city cannot secure additional funds for the purchase?

At this point, the city controls the future of the property and has secured time to make the right decision. Developing a plan for the property will inform the long-term financial impact to the city and ultimately the city will need to make a decision about whether it can afford to maintain the property as a city asset or go another direction.

Feasibility study

Who was hired for the feasibility study, and when?

On March 16, 2020, the city council voted to retain David Allen and Development for Conservation, LLC, a sole proprietorship, to conduct a feasibility study on what level of private support might be available to aid in purchasing the San Damiano property.

What was the purpose of the feasibility study?

The city retained Development for Conservation to test the feasibility of raising $12,000,000 privately to protect San Damiano as a public asset. Particularly, the study focused on individuals willing to make private financial commitments.

What was the conclusion of the feasibility study?

There were nine conclusions reached in the report, three of them were central to the city’s decision to purchase the property.

  • First, while challenging, it stated a campaign of $1.5 million was feasible.
  • Second, it also reinforced the desire by residents that the city needed to find a way to save San Damiano from development.
  • Finally, it stressed that the only way to do so and control the fate of the property is by owning it.

View the full report

The project

What is the timeline for feedback and the master planning process?

The planning process is scheduled to take place from late summer 2022 through the end of 2023. We encourage community members to visit and experience the property. It is a truly unique place. The San Damiano Project Steering Committee will be soliciting feedback from the community for 12-18 months.

How can I share my feedback or ideas?

Right now, you can email or please fill out a short form with your vision and ideas for the property. In late summer 2022 through the end of 2023, there will be a specific process to provide input developed by the steering committee. Some examples of ways you will be able to provide your input are by attending community engagement sessions and filling out surveys.

Is there a Steering Committee for this project?

The City of Monona, in conjunction with the Friends of San Damiano, established the San Damiano Project Steering Committee in August of 2021. The mission of the steering committee is to engage the community in the development of a financially feasible master plan that conserves San Damiano as a public asset. Its task will be to solicit community input and guide the city through the master planning process. Ultimately, the steering committee will make a recommendation to the city for action and/or improvements to the property.

Why not start the public engagement process now?

Public engagement is one of the most critical elements of the future planning process for San Damiano. The intent is to conduct a robust community engagement process, in conjunction with a master planning process. Through fall 2021 and spring 2022 fundraising campaigns, Friends of San Damiano raised the funds required to hire a professional firm. Currently, the steering committee recommended to the City of Monona the hiring of MSA Professionals to launch the community engagement and master planning process. City Council approved the hiring of MSA in June 2022. Community engagement and the master planning process will take place from late summer of 2022 through the end of 2023.

Will the house on San Damiano be restored?

We don’t know. While the historic manor on San Damiano was designated a Monona landmark in 1979, it had not seen care in recent years. In 2007, it was determined by the Wisconsin Historical Society that it is not eligible for state or national landmark status because its interior and exterior had been extensively altered since its construction in 1894. A full assessment of the condition of the house was commissioned by the city and can be read by clicking the bold link above.

Does the property's presence on the Wisconsin Archaeological Inventory impact any potential development and master plan?

Yes. Its presence on the State inventory is due to Ho-Chunk ancestral mounds that may have once been on the property and the potential of burial remains, all of which are protected by State statute.  The city has commissioned an archaeological survey to be completed prior to or during the master planning process.

Friends of San Damiano

Why was the Friends of San Damiano created?

Knowing the city did not have the capacity to fundraise at a larger level required by the size and cost of this property and project, this nonprofit was established to provide a tax-exempt organization to accept gifts and the people power to make this effort a success.

Does the city have other "Friends" groups?

Yes. There are similar groups like the Friends of San Damiano, including the Friends of the Monona Public Library, Friends of the Senior Center, Monona Public Library Foundation, Friends of WVMO, etc.

What is the purpose of the Friends of San Damiano?

The purpose of the Friends is to garner financial resources for the purchase, master planning, property improvements, and maintenance of the property. It is the city’s goal that the San Damiano property be self-sustaining. Aside from the purchase and surveys of the property, the Friends must raise any other necessary funds needed.

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