Historical society seeks help for Tallman renovation

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Shelly Birkelo
Thursday, January 31, 2013

— When renovation of the Charles Tallman House is complete, storage space for collections and research will double for the Rock County Genealogical Society and Rock County Historical Society archives.

Work on the 1915 stucco house at 430 N. Jackson St. started nearly three years ago. When finished it will officially become the Charles Tallman Archives and Research Center.

Total cost of the project is $300,000. To date, $100,000 has been raised and another $100,000 has been donated in time and materials.

Historical and genealogical society volunteers have contributed more than 10,000 work hours. Still, money, master painters, carpenters, plumbers and general contractors are being sought to donate time and materials to finish this project, said Michael Reuter, historical society executive director.

"We're taking the campaign public to raise the last third and final $100,000 now that we're on the home stretch of this project," said Reuter, noting work should be done by year's end.

Completed projects include waterproofing the basement and installing a handicap accessible ramp, a new roof, collapsible storage in the basement, bathroom tile flooring, lighting throughout the first floor and all new electrical wiring. Original hardwood floors on the first and second floors of the house also have been refinished.

Refurbishing projects left on the list include installing a toilet and fixtures in the first-floor bathroom, an air conditioning unit and antique period hardware on doors and antique period lighting fixtures. In addition, the home's interior and exterior need painting, the parking lot needs resurfacing, and landscaping work remains in front of the house.

Reuter explained why public support is so important to the project.

"We're providing more value to the community than just being a store house for our old stuff," Reuter said. "We will be seen as a destination for people to come for local history as it relates to Rock County."

According to Reuter, other community benefits of the archives and research include:

-- Providing a permanent place for all archival materials that pertain to Rock County history.

-- The society's dedication to hosting lectures, historic house research, and educational programs focused on genealogy, oral histories, and photograph and document care.

-- Inclusion of touch screen and Smart board technology connected to area research center databases and classrooms.

"To keep a project's momentum going for so long is an amazing feat given the economy," Reuter said.

"It's really a testament to the efforts of the historical society staff, board members, genealogy society members and other community volunteers, who are passionate about preserving these artifacts, have worked on this project to keep it going and to see it completed."


1. Lincoln-Tallman House

Built: 1855-57

Use now: Guided tours are offered daily.

Restoration work completed at a cost of $1.2 million: The city of Janesville and the Rock County Historical Society have worked together on the restoration of this facility since 2009. Improvements made include a new roof, restoration of external doors and hardware, renovation of carriage and portico/front porch, renovation and re-installation of front side storm windows, installation of a handicapped-accessible lift.

Restoration work planned at a cost of $812,500: Costs include hiring a museum experience/design firm to assist in developing participatory and multi-sensory experiences so guests can immerse themselves in the time period the house represents. Also, planning, develop and implementation of an exterior lighting and landscape plan for house and the rest of the historical society campus; restoration of the house's conservatory; fence restoration and addition; cast-iron crown and sill restoration; remaining storm window restoration; foundation and masonry re-pointing repairs on the house; and endowment to keep up with ongoing maintenance.

2. Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center

Year built: 1915

Use now: Historical society administrative offices, gift shop and four exhibit galleries.

Restoration work completed at a cost of $960,000: In 1996, money was raised to create the addition to the Stanley Tallman House, which became the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center. Almost 20 years later, it is in need of improvements.

Restoration work planned at a cost of $105,000: Update signage in front and back of the center; re-deck and paint the center's observation deck; install a new roof; and create an endowment to keep up with ongoing maintenance.

3. Charles Tallman House

Year built: 1915

Use now: Will become the home of the historical society's archives and research center.

Restoration work completed at a cost of $200,000: Purchase of the building, installation of handicapped-accessible ramp; new roof installation; hardwood floors refinishing; basement waterproofing; compact shelving and drop ceiling installation; new cabinetry in kitchen; removal of a steel fire escape; sanding and painting of first and second floor; and sanding and staining of the main staircase.

Restoration work planned at a cost of $100,000: New asphalt drive and parking lot; new painted exterior; exterior landscaping; front entry capping and rail installation; purchase and installation of a new air conditioning system; installation of historic light fixtures for the public reading room and historic hardware for first floor doors; and establishment of an endowment to keep up with ongoing maintenance.

4. Wilson-King Stone House

Year built: 1845. Moved to historical society campus in 1964.

Use now: Currently houses historical society archives and the Rock County Genealogical Society.

Restoration work completed and cost to date: None.

Restoration work planned at a cost of $205,000: Program development; implementation and fabrication; capital improvements such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, plus electric and IT upgrades.

5. Tallman Carriage House

Year built: 1857

Use now: Not currently in use.

Restoration work completed to date at a cost of $80,000: Electrical service installed in facility; architectural assessment of capital improvement priorities.

Restoration work planned at a cost of $475,000: Implementation of museum exhibits/experiences that promote the commercial, industrial and entrepreneurial success of Rock County businesses; structural, electrical, plumbing and HVAC improvements; and establishment of an endowment to keep up with ongoing maintenance.

To help

Donations can be made online at www.rchs.us/preserving-our-legacy-the-charles-tallman-project-an-introduction, by phone at 608-756-4509 and in person at the Helen Jeffris Wood Museum Center, 426 N. Jackson St., Janesville.

All donations of money and supplies are tax-deductible. These contributions, in addition to donations of time, will be recognized during the grand opening open house event and on a memorial board in the facility's reading room.

Last updated: 8:09 am Monday, April 29, 2013

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