In November of 1869, the William M. Tallman family enjoyed gas lighting for the first time at the Lincoln-Tallman House in Janesville, changing their world forever. Now, nearly 150 years later, the home is once again illuminated, thanks to generous donors who contributed to the Rock County Historical Society’s “Light the Way” campaign.
“In 2015, the Rock County Historical Society invited businesses and community members to help us to restore and illuminate the interior fixtures of the Lincoln-Tallman House by donating financially and through services,” explained Mike Reuter, Executive Director of the Rock County Historical Society. “Through generous donations and a passion to see the Lincoln-Tallman House re-illuminated, the Society successfully raised the funds needed within six months of launching the campaign, in June of 2015.”
Donors’ generous support lit the way for nine gasoliers, twelve wall sconces and the Mercury statue to be restored and electrified. All the updated lights are wired through a module to allow the bulbs to flicker to represent burning gas. This helps visitors to understand what the house would truly look like during the Tallman family residency.
“The Society initially estimated the project to cost close to $100,000, but in partnership with donors, the City of Janesville, and Society vendors and in-kind partners, the actual cost was nearly half that amount,” Reuter said.
The Tallman family residence and homestead is operated by the Rock County Historical Society, yet owned by the City of Janesville. It was donated in 1948 for use as a museum for the community’s benefit.