People still angry over changes to historic building

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Neighbors and local businesses were shocked on Tuesday when an iconic State St. building, formerly home to Sacred Feather, was painted black. On Sunday, most of the paint was gone, but local employees said painting it in the first place was disrespectful.

"It's so iconic, everybody knows the Sacred Feather," said Beki Yopek. "Suddenly it was black, the whole building."

Yopek works at Mimosa, a store on State St. right across from the former Sacred Feather shop. The new tenant in the former Sacred Feather building wants to open a coffee shop, and they had the building painted.

Yopek said she was astonished that it happened so quickly.

"It's just sad. There's so much history here that they just painted over like it was nothing," she said.

According to housing inspector supervisor Kyle Bunnow, the owners of the building, SCK Investment, needed permission from Madison's Urban Design Commission before making any changes, because of the building's location. NBC15 could not reach the owners for comment.

The city inspector's office told the owners to restore the building to its original condition by April 5.

"It will never be fully brought back. Once you paint Cream City brick from the 1880s, 1890s with latex spray paint, it will never come fully back," said Stu Levitan, chair of the Madison Landmarks Commission.

Levitan said the building is a critical part of the city's history and the history of State St.

"We have benefited from previous generations creating and preserving these architectural wonders, and it's our obligation to do the same for future generations," he said.

Even though most of the paint has now been removed, Yopek said the building is not the same.

"It looks green. It looks like it’s been through a fire and then through some water damage. It looks musty. It doesn’t have the same old, rustic feel to it," she said.

On Monday, the Madison Landmarks Commission will discuss making State St. a historic district. Levitan said that would add another level of regulation for those wanting to make changes to historic buildings.