Despite multiple hurdles, couple continues efforts to convert historic Deen House to preschool

Thomas and Madison Brawner just got another "no" in response to their idea to turn Lakeland's historic Deen House into a preschool.

The couple is under contract to buy the residential home that was built in the early 1900s, but it hasn't been easy going.

The Brawners went before the zoning board to see if they could move ahead on their dream.

"It was a 'no,'" Thomas told FOX 13 on Tuesday. "A 'no' with caveats. It was not an all-out 'no.'"

So they are still hopeful and plan to forge ahead.

Recently, they went before Lakeland’s Historic Preservation Board and asked if they could install fire escapes on the building. They got a thumbs down on that, as well.

Dealing with the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association has been a challenge for the Brawners, too. The group has put up hundreds of lawn signs protesting the preschool.

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"It’s the traffic. It’s the parking. It’s the deterioration of the exterior from the fire escapes," said Julie Townsend, a past president of the Lake Morton Neighborhood Association.

The Brawners admit they would need more parking spots. So they have been talking with St. Joseph’s Academy, which is right across the street, about leasing parking spaces.

The zoning board told the Brawners to come back if they work something out.

"We’re not so naïve to put all our eggs in one basket," said Thomas. "We continue talks with other property owners throughout this entire process. We’d love for this location to work out, but if it doesn’t, we have other options."