Dinner proceeds to help fund Lincoln-Tallman House fence restoration

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Shelly Birkelo
Tuesday, June 3, 2014

JANESVILLE--Michael Reuter cringes every time someone drives by or mentions the dilapidated condition of the decorative white wood fence in front of the Lincoln-Tallman House.

Spindles are missing, wood is rotting, and paint is chipping on the more-than- 20-year-old fence that stretches between the driveways of the historic 1855-57 Italianate mansion, 440 N. Jackson St, said the executive director of the Rock County Historical Society.

“The bottom plate that holds the fence together is treated with redwood and solid. Its design allows water to settle and has rotted the entire lower area and loosened the spindles of the fence,” he said.

The top of the fence is good because its curvature allows water and moisture to run off. However, with shade from the trees, lichen and moss have grown on it, he said.

 Money to help restore the fence will be raised during a Summer Solstice Dinner on Sunday, June 22, at Aglio Ristorante, 19 N. High St.

That's also when the Fix Our Fence campaign starts, Reuter said.

The goal is to raise $10,000 through the dinner and private community donations, he said.

The public is invited to enjoy an evening of culinary delight, Reuter said.

“It will be casual and information gathering where people can learn a bit more about the history and traditions surrounding the summer solstice,” he said.

Sutterlin Restorations, Janesville, will restore the fence, which is a symbol of the deferred maintenance and infrastructure decay that has plagued the campus over the last few years, Reuter said.

The historical society is creating a comprehensive maintenance plan to demonstrate to the city of Janesville, the community and visitors that “we take historic preservation seriously,” he said.

Volunteers will maintain the fence annually “so we won't run into the problem again in the next 10 to 15 years,” Reuter said.

The historical society has leased the Tallman House from the city since 1950 and been maintaining and operating the property since.

The 3.5-acre campus features the Lincoln-Tallman House, Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center and Charles Tallman Archives and Research Center, where programs, exhibits and special events take place.

“With all the momentum with programs, the time is right to address how our fence looks on campus,” Reuter said.

“It is a one of the first things people see and a symbol of the quality of caretakers and stewards we are on campus.”

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