“History comes alive when someone is able to not only read about the past, but is also able to visit the places, examine the artifacts, appreciate the images, and study the actual words. For most people, history starts with simply learning about their family or their community. A concerted effort to preserve our heritage is a vital link to our cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, and economic legacies — all of the things that quite literally make us who we are.

“History is not something obscure or unimportant. History plays a vital role in our everyday lives. We learn from our past in order to achieve greater influence over our future. History serves as a model not only of who and what we are to be, we learn what to champion and what to avoid. Everyday decision-making around the world is constantly based on what came before us.


“Because history matters.”
New York Times bestselling author Steve Barry. In 2009 he and his wife, Elizabeth, founded History Matters—a nonprofit organization dedicated to aiding the preservation of the reminders of our past.

Yes, history matters. That’s why in communities all across America neighborhood icons  like libraries and firehouses, parks, churches and museums are painstakingly kept alive.

And then there’s Franklin, where we crusade to save…a barn.

For some context, from the Franklin Historical Society (FHS) website:

The Franklin Historical Society has served the City of Franklin since 1969. Our mission has been to preserve the history of our great city by maintaining living museums in Lions Legend Park and educating the youth of our city’s history.

Franklin started as a farming community and still remains active as one. In our historic village we have the St. Peters Chapel, Franklin’s Town Hall, the Whelan School and the Sheehan-Godsell Cabin. What we do not have is a Franklin barn museum to represent the family farming life that is so important to our past. Four years ago the Wendt family offered a donation of a historic 1880’s Franklin family barn to the FHS.

This donation was both a great opportunity and challenge for the FHS. By disassembling the barn and reconstructing it in our village we can build a barn museum to display the many artifacts, tools and equipment we have to demonstrate the life style of a Franklin farming family in the 19th and 20th century.

From the very start this project was a “leap of faith” for it was well beyond our normal financial means. However, we considered the project essential to our mission to preserve Franklin’s history.

April 18, 2016:
In Franklin, is it a barn, a museum, or something else?

The barn discussion provided one of my favorite Franklin moments of 2016.

That was April. A lot happened since then. Again, from the FHS website:

On Thursday evening June 9th the City of Franklin Planning Commission approved the site plan for the building of the Franklin Historical Society’s historic barn museum.

The City of Franklin’s Common Council on June 26th passed the Barn Museum Capital Project Agreement between the Franklin Historical Society and the City of Franklin. The FHS Board of Directors has also approved the agreement and three of the FHS officers have signed the agreement.

What this means is that all financial terms to build the barn have been agreed upon..

The FHS and the City will work together on all aspects of this project.

After finding out the barn received a A-3 Museum construction classification from the State of Wisconsin an architect and a structural engineer had to be hired to design and reengineer the barn. We received a bid of $30,000 for this. Instead Mark Arndt of Franklin volunteered his professional services as an architect pro-bono. The only cost came as a $5,000 engineering consulting fee from Robert Lata a State certified engineer who discounted his fee.

On December 7 a groundbreaking ceremony was held for the barn museum.

Franklin Historical Society members and community members

The goal of the FHS is to have the barn museum artifacts display ready for a grand opening during the City’s 4th of July Celebration in 2017. reports the project still needs to raise $30,000.

Don’t get me wrong. I truly understand what the FHS is attempting to do. We certainly recognize the efforts of farmers then and now. But speaking objectively,  is this the best we can do, Franklin? And seriously, what impression does this leave with people who live outside of Franklin?


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8 thoughts on “THE TOP TEN FRANKLIN STORIES OF 2016: #5

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