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Reasoning behind the palisade

June 6, 2012
The Journal

To the editor:

I am writing in regard to the fence that has been erected at Kiesling Park in downtown.

This fence is a part of a plan that was created with money from a Preserve America grant received by the HPC and the City in 2008. The plan has been reviewed by the State of Minnesota Historical Society and they have approved the recommendations in this plan. The plan has also been vetted by many others, including the Heritage Preservation Commission and the New Ulm Area Foundation, the organization providing funding for this project.

The recommendations for the fence itself came from Dr. Thomas Woods, an experienced historic site interpreter and current president of an organization called Making Sense of Place. Dr. Woods has consulting with more than 30 large and small living historic sites, including the Oliver Kelly Farm and Old World Wisconsin.

Dr. Woods made a number of trips to New Ulm and his suggestion was that if Kiesling Park was to have any semblance of its history we needed to create a sense of place for this small park. His recommendation was to use a period fence, a palisade style fence, to frame in the park to allow other historic interpretations to take place within the park. Later this summer a replica of the 1862 barricade will be placed next to the house along with an interpretive marker.

A primary goal in this park plan was to return the park to its purpose when it was acquired and opened in the 1970s. That includes interpretation of the events of the U.S.-Dakota War (1970s interpretive panels were removed.) When the park opened, the side with the current fence was enclosed by a historic building and a tall fence.

Here are Dr. Woods words related to why this kind of fence as opposed to another kind of fence:

"So there are really two reasons for the palisade fence: simulate the siege and block out the significant intrusions of the bank drive-thruthe palisade sections symbolically communicate the siege, while also eliminating significant intrusions. A picket fence would not mitigate the drive-thru view or suggest the siege/war activity. Our plan makes the site historically suggestive, while a picket fence would go too far to make the site pretty and suggest a domestic setting..."

While I know some will not like the fence that was chosen, I hope that this information is helpful in understanding how the choice of fence was made for this historic site.

Anne G. Makepeace

New Ulm



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