Janesville25.1°

Tours offer stroll through city’s history

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
April 28, 2008
— Everybody likes a bargain.

So Rich Fletcher, chairman of the Janesville Historic Commission, wants everybody to know the group’s historic walking tours that start in May and end in October are free.


What walkers will learn about their community, roots and architecture is priceless.


The first walk is Saturday, May 10, at the corner of Dodge and High streets in front of the Armory and loop through the Old Fourth Ward Historic District down Academy Street, up Lincoln Street and back to the Armory.


“The Fourth Ward was the one area of the city that was really the immigrant part,” Fletcher said.


That’s why three churches will be points of interests on the tour.


“All Saints started as the German Lutheran Church, and St. Patrick’s was the seat of the Irish heritage, while First Church of Christ Scientist is a very interesting building and based on a very elegant Roman classical type of architecture,” Fletcher said.


Academy Street has many houses where immigrant workers would have lived. The houses are good examples of the architecture of the modest homes typical of the late 1800s, but the neighborhood also has a few bigger homes built by wealthier residents, Fletcher said.


Also on the tour will be the old Tallman perfume factory, Fletcher said.


“I concentrate on the architectural history and add a few people highlights,” Fletcher said.


He’s started conducting the historic walking tours of South Main Street two years ago during the Farmers Market.


“I figured if people are going to an area they should know the history of the street they are on,’’ Fletcher said.


From there, he expanded the tour to the Courthouse Hill Historic District and others.


“Seventy-five people were on the Columbus Circle Historic District tour, and the number of those on the Look West Historic District tour was approaching 50,’’ he said.


“I just think people have this interest in the history in the city and want to know what’s up,’’ Fletcher said.


Other Saturday walking tours are June 21, July 12, July 26, Aug. 2, Sept. 6 and Oct. 18. All start at 9 a.m. except the 7 p.m. Summer Solstice evening walk June 21.


What people learn on these tours they can apply anywhere, Fletcher said.


“By generalizing my tours about architecture, they can get in their mind what makes each style different,” he said, “and by learning they can have better appreciation.’’


IF YOU GO

Who: Janesville Historic Commission.


What: Walking Tour of the Old Fourth Ward Historic District.


When: 9 a.m., Saturday, May 10. Other Saturday walking tours are June 21, July 12, July 26, Aug. 2, Sept. 6 and Oct. 18. All start at 9 a.m. except the 7 p.m. Summer Solstice evening walk June 21.


Where: Starts in front of the Armory, 10 S. High St. Park in the parking lot, at the corner of High and Dodge streets.


Cost: Free. No registration required.



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