Monday, April 20, 2009

Keepers' Houses, Lower Fox River Navigational System

Ten of what had been at least a dozen Lock Keepers’ residences remain in place along the historic waterway between Menasha and De Pere. Nine of them are cited as contributing elements to their districts in a multiple-property NRHP listing, “Waterway Resources of the Lower Fox River, 1850-1941” (approved October 25, 1993).

Constructed between 1892 and 1928, the houses are integral to the lock sites at Appleton Locks 1 and 3, Cedars, Little Chute Guard Lock, Combined Locks, Kaukauna 1, Rapide Croche, Little Kaukauna and De Pere. All are unoccupied, and in most cases have been for more than twenty-five years. Their mothballed status has contributed to their deterioration, and they have become targets for vandalism due to their relative isolation.

The Fox River Navigational System Authority (FRNSA) is at about mid-point in the process of returning the locks of the Lower Fox River to operation and now would like to take the steps necessary to secure the future of the former keepers’ residences. In taking measures to protect them from further deterioration, the FRNSA proposes to (1) complete roof and foundation repairs, (2) repair exterior walls by tuckpointing, repairing and replacing materials in-kind, and painting, and (3) complete hazard materials abatement (lead and asbestos).

The FRNSA eventually plans to rehabilitate the houses to function as important interpretive or hospitality features along the operational waterway. Anticipating the restored locks and canals will provide a significant enhancement to tourism, the presence of these integral and historically significant houses will lend character to the navigational system and provide multiple, related attractions along its route.