La Crosse officials stress importance of preserving historic buildings

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) – City officials in La Crosse are trying to preserve as many historic buildings in the community as possible.

Dozens of buildings across La Crosse are listed on both the Local and National Register of Historic Places.

The chair of the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission, Mackenzie Mindel, says maintaining these sites helps keep La Crosse vibrant.

“Historic places and historic buildings add to the local economies of downtown, to the local economies of communities, and they add to tourism,” Mindel said.

That’s why Mindel thinks the loss of the more than 100-year-old Mueller Building to a fire last week was a blow to the city.

“This building was still historic even though it was not on our historic register,” Mindel said. “Your downtown La Crosse experience will never be the same.”

The fire leads curators to raise awareness of other historic buildings the city is in danger of losing.

The Heritage Preservation Commission has released its second annual list of Historic properties most at risk at La Crosse.

“Maybe these buildings aren’t being used to their best use, they’re vacant, they’ve been neglected,” said planning administrator Tim Acklin. “They may also be part of an area of ​​the city that could be considered for a larger redevelopment project, and we fear losing them that way.”

Buildings on the 2022 list include the old Casino Bar at 304 Pearl Street, the JP Koller Building and John Halverson House on the 600 block of 4th Street South, and Fire Station No. 4 on Gillette Street.

Acklin says saving these sites could benefit La Crosse in a number of ways.

“Historic preservation can turn into a neighborhood element, it can turn into a housing element, it can turn into economic development,” Acklin detailed. “That’s kind of the versatility of historic preservation is that it can apply to so many other parts of a city.”

Acklin and Mindel say the purpose of the list of threatened properties is to raise awareness of the importance of these buildings to the city.

Acklin hopes city officials will consider keeping these sites intact when planning for La Crosse’s future.

Copyright 2022 WEAU. All rights reserved.


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