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A tall order for the Tallman House

The historic Tallman House in Janesville. (Photo courtesy of visitbeloit.com)

Fundraising efforts are under way to give the historic Tallman House in Janesville a makeover. (Photo courtesy of visitbeloit.com)

By Keith Barber

A plan is under way to increase business and attendance at the historic Tallman House in Janesville.

Revenues and attendance have been dropping over the years, and the city has decided that a new business plan is needed. A city committee has been established to study several scenarios for the house/museum, including the possibility of renting portions of the house for business meetings, weddings and receptions, and hiring a part-time employee to write grants and oversee events.

It may be necessary to expand fundraising efforts to include art shows on the Tallman grounds, conduct holiday tours, offer lawn concerts and other community events, offer community picnics and antique shows, and conduct Mother’s Day and Father’s Day events. It has also been suggested that the carriage barn on the property be renovated to include a prep kitchen to cater gatherings. That renovation is estimated at $280,000.

Other needed work includes lighting alterations in the Tallman House, bathroom renovations, adding an accessible lift, signage work, complete re-roofing, exterior painting, retaining wall repairs and gutter improvements.

The House is owned by the city of Janesville, and operated by the Rock County Historical Society.

The Tallman House, also known as the Lincoln-Tallman House, became famous after U.S. President Abraham Lincoln slept there for two days after speaking at the Wisconsin State Fair in Beloit on Oct. 1, 1859 (one year before his presidency). It is the only known house still standing in Wisconsin in which Lincoln sought lodging.

The Tallman House was constructed by William Tallman, a lawyer, in 1855. The home is at 440 N. Jackson St. in Janesville. The house is 60-feet tall, and has 20 rooms. The cost of construction in 1855 was $33,000 in gold.

You can support fundraising efforts by attending the Tallman Festival from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 8. The festival will include outdoor music, wine tasting, an ice cream social, local food establishments, a kid’s art project, and an art show featuring regional artists. Admission is $3 for adults and children are free. Bring a non-perishable food item for the ECHO pantry. The fundraiser is presented by the Rock County Historical Society. For more information, call (608) 756-4509.

Keith Barber is a data reporter at The Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (414) 225-1821.

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