The Society of St. Vincent de Paul — Madison will conduct a building project near the intersection of Williamson Street and S. Baldwin Street in Madison. The zone currently hosts the St. Vincent de Paul Williamson Street Thrift Store and the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program office.
The intent is to demolish two structurally compromised buildings along Baldwin Street – as well as the Williamson Street store’s book room, which shares the lot with one of those buildings. A two-story building at the Baldwin Williamson corner will be erected and a single-story building will be expanded retail space, while the new corner building’s second floor will house the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Program, supportive services for single parents of minor children to stabilize their housing and lives.
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The core mission of the District Council of Madison – Society of St. Vincent de Paul is helping Dane County neighbors in need. A nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the Society has been engaged in that mission in Madison since 1925 and has had a physical locus in the Williamson-Marquette neighborhood since 1941, when SVdP Madison opened a store on Baldwin Street. From that location, St. Vincent de Paul’s retail and service complex grew organically around the Baldwin corner to Williamson Street to become the Society’s local flagship thrift store. The parcel at the corner of Williamson and Baldwin streets has since served as the Society’s busy food pantry and then as the office location of the Seton House women’s transitional housing program – as well the site of the adjoining Willy Street store’s bookroom.
The Williamson-Baldwin corner property and the original Baldwin Street portion of the thrift-store complex have clearly reached their end of life. SVdP Madison has been advised that the corner “Seton 2” building, an old balloon-frame structure, is not sound enough to salvage and remodel. Compromised wooden roof trusses of the Baldwin retail property have led the Society to empty that space and leave it unused for its usual purpose. The century-old concrete structure of the Baldwin store space is of unknown design capacity. After carefully considering options, St. Vincent de Paul is seeking to rebuild in the footprint of these two parcels. New construction designed to sensitively honor the look and feel of the local traditional shopping street and historic district will best serve the interest of safety, modern code compliance, energy efficiency, sustainability, and avoidance of unintended consequences.
These are key objectives for the future of properties SVdP Madison intends to continue using for purposes toward which the site has long been put. Those purposes are supporting and meeting the Society’s mission by selling and giving away donated goods and by offering other charitable services to local households in need. Through new, historically sensitive construction, SVdP Madison’s plan is to devote almost all first-floor space to retail and – for the corner – parcel create second-floor space focused on serving neighbors in need through SVdP Madison charitable programming.
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