|The Florence County jail, which was designed by James E. Clancey,
an early northwoods architect, may become the focus of an extensive restoration
FLORENCE COUNTY JAIL, DESIGNED BY LOCAL ARCHITECT,
MAY BE RESTORED
A building designed by an Antigo architect may be the focus
of an expansive restoration effort in Florence County.
The Jeffris Family Foundation of Janesville has awarded
a matching grant to Florence County and the Florence County Historical
Society to formulate an architectural plan on the old jail that stands
next to the Florence County courthouse.
The jail was designed by James E. Clancey, who had an
office in Antigo in the 1880s. Clancey also designed the first Langlade
County lockup, a two-story combined jail and sheriff's residence.
The Florence County courthouse and jail were placed on
the National Register of Historic Sites in 1985. Since that time, there
was an addition to the courthouse and renovation to many of the original
offices. The jail was an addition to the courthouse complex in 1889. For
over a quarter of a century it served the county in helping to hold law
and order in the busy logging and mining era.
Through the years only a few attempts have been made to
maintain the old jail and it is currently in structural danger.
Officials from the Florence County Historical Society
said they hoped that this project will be a catalyst to involve the county
citizens, seasonal property owners and any interested historians to become
involved with the preservation of the history of Florence County and raising
funds to meet the requirements of a Jeffris Family Foundation challenge
grant that will possibly be awarded after the structural study has been
The Jeffris Family Foundation was founded in Janesville
in 1979 and is a nationally recognized Midwestern foundation that focuses
on Wisconsin preservation. Since 1979 the foundation has been involved
in the preservation of many regionally and nationally significant historic
buildings and decorative art projects. Some of its more notable projects
have been Villa Louis in Prairie du Chien, Fairlawn Mansion in Superior,
Valentine Wolf Home in Germantown and Frank Lloyd Wright's Seth Peterson
Cottage on Mirror Lake.
According to Tom Jeffris, the foundation is currently
seeking quality projects throughout Wisconsin. Typically the foundation
likes to do projects in smaller communities.
"The foundation is excited about the Florence County jail
restoration project and looks forward to seeing the project evolve from
the study stage to the actual restoration," Jeffris said. "We haven't had
the opportunity to participate in a project of this type in this area of
the state and have found the historic Florence County jail to be worthy
of study and restoration. The Florence County Board and Historical Society
should be commended for their efforts in seeking out avenues to preserve
as well as maintain this unique piece of Midwestern history."
The architectural plan was started in late January by
Art Chadek of Wauwatosa and will be completed by May 2001.
[FOLLOW-UP: I spoke with Debra DeMuri of the Florence Historical
Society and the county jail is a true treasure. It has all of the
original fixtures and features and well worth preserving. They've
gotten the official "go-ahead" but could use your help. I'm including
the Historical Society's address here if you would like more information
or would like to help out and make this project happen. They'd appreciate
hearing from you!
|Florence County Historical Society
c/o Debra DeMuri
P.O. Box 162
Florence, Wisconsin 54121