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Judge to hear Octagon House lawsuit Wednesday

FOND DU LAC – A hearing on Wednesday could determine the fate of Fond du Lac’s historic Octagon House, which is facing foreclosure.

BMO Harris Bank is suing Marlene Hansen, owner of the Octagon House, over an unpaid home equity mortgage. At a hearing Wednesday, a Fond du Lac County judge will weigh arguments for and against foreclosure of the 160-year-old property, once a stop on the underground railroad.

“If the bank forecloses, who knows what will become of the home,” Hansen said Thursday. “I’m still hopeful that this can be settled.”

RELATED: Fate of Octagon House uncertain as suit looms

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In its foreclosure lawsuit, BMO Harris Bank argues Hansen failed to pay back an $85,000 loan that she took out in 1999 to pay for repairs to the home. BMO bought MI Bank in 2009, taking ownership of the debt. Hansen’s attorney, Dan Kaminsky, argues that the bank can’t account for how much she owes, citing a debt that fluctuates between $59,000 and $83,000.

It’s unclear from court documents how much remains on the loan. Each side claims the other is misreading the size of Hansen’s debt. While BMO argues the case is a clear-cut foreclosure, Kaminsky argues the bank lost Hansen’s paperwork in the acquisition of MI.

Both sides have filed paperwork appealing to Fond du Lac County Circuit Court Judge Richard Nuss for a ruling in their favor.

Hansen has owned the home since 1975, when she bought the home outright for $25,000, saving the property from demolition by the state. Hansen said she has been trying to sell the home for years, but no buyer has surfaced.

Built by Isaac Brown, the first mayor of Fond du Lac, the Octagon House was once a stop on the Underground Railroad. The home’s secret passageways helped ferry slaves to the Fond du Lac River, and to freedom from there. A Go Fund Me Page surfaced on Nov. 9, seeking to raise $85,000 for the lawsuit and outstanding loans. As of Thursday, no one had donated to that effort.

Reach Nate Beck at 920-858-9657 or nbeck@gannett.com; on Twitter: @NateBeck9

Article source: http://www.fdlreporter.com/story/news/2016/12/29/judge-hear-octagon-house-lawsuit-wednesday/95957280/

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