Connect with us


Historic status for Lincoln Middle School upheld; appeal by La Crosse school district denied



The landmark designation for a La Crosse school building will stand.

La Crosse’s city council voted unanimously Thursday to deny an appeal of the historic status recently granted to Lincoln Middle School.

The La Crosse School Board voted months ago to close Lincoln at the end of this past school year and now is trying to sell the building.

School Board president Annie Baumann is unhappy that a landmark designation wasn’t approved until June.

“Since the board met in January, and voted to close Lincoln, no movement on the historic designation was made until the very last moment,” she said, “weeks before the board had projected seeking those qualifications from developers.”

Baumann called the designation process “reactionary” and “broken.”

District facilities director Joe Ledvina said the school system is not against preservation, noting that the former Eagles Club downtown is now being used as a school building.

Barbara Kooiman, president of the Preservation Alliance of La Crosse, said the process for making Lincoln a historic site was done by the book.

“It is historic,” she said about the 100-year-old school. “Now, what this appeal is doing is asking you all to say, it is not historic.”

School leaders also stated that a survey of people in the Lincoln neighborhood ranked preservation very low on the list of suggested priorities for the old school, with housing ranked first.

The city’s Heritage Preservation Commission approved historic status for Lincoln on June 22, after the Washburn Neighborhood Association submitted papers nominating it.

A week later, the School Board voted to appeal that decision.

“It is a deep injustice to property owners, to place their property on the local register of historic places after the property has gone up for sale,” La Crosse School Superintendent, Dr. Aaron Engel said, the week leading up to that appeal.

Heritage Preservation Commission member Laura Godden noted on La Crosse Talk PM that historic status might actually be more beneficial to the school district in selling the building.

And City Planner Tim Acklin, who’s worked for the city for 20 years and has only had one other appeal to a historic designation — which came in 2017 — said Wednesday on WIZM that Lincoln’s architectural style was a major reason for the approval of landmark status by a city committee in June.

Acklin also noted the former Roosevelt school on the north side already had landmark status before it was sold and converted into affordable housing.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

Continue Reading


  1. Kent Porter

    July 14, 2023 at 10:05 am


  2. Lucenut

    July 14, 2023 at 11:50 am

    Just put the property on the market and let it be part of the tax base again. Stop this social-engineering nonsense!

  3. walden

    July 14, 2023 at 9:49 pm

    Engel: “It is a deep injustice to property owners, to place their property on the local register of historic places after the property has gone up for sale.”

    Oh, really? Consider that Engel’s entire strategy on the closing of Lincoln neighborhood school was to bushwack Lincoln students and parents with a rushed last minute vote by an uninformed school board. It was a total embarrassment for the District and School Board; in other words business as usual for the District.

  4. Roger Benson

    July 15, 2023 at 7:56 am

    Engel, time to pack your bags!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *