6/20/2013 12:55:00 PM It's the little stuff that counts
John Barowy helped June 13, fitting loafer rails onto the top of the fencing at the Memorial Community Center.
August of 1908 an iron railing was installed along the sidewalk running from the Taylors Falls depot down to First Street separating the pedestrian sidewalk from a timber viaduct that extended across First Street carrying the railroad tracks toward a rail-car turntable at the north end of town. This railing was topped with blunt-toothed cast iron strips and “Eagle Claw” finials. These ¾ inch high “teeth” earned them the name, “loafer rail” and hints of its purpose. They were commonly used on railings around public or private buildings in the early part of the 1900s to discourage people from sitting on the railings. Due to new code requirements, in 1994 the City removed the 86-year-old railing and it was cut up for scrap.
Community volunteers removed and rescued the finials and loafer rails from the pipe rails and stored them for future restoration. Special thanks are due to T.F. Historical Society members Bill Scott, for his historic restoration vision, and Clayton Rivard for his skills and work in separating loafer rails and finials from the pile of railings destined for scrap. Nearly all of the finials were rescued intact and most of the loafer rails were rescued. The City Council recently gave its approval to install the loafer rails and finials to the top of the current railing.
The Taylors Falls Women’s Civic League, the Taylors Falls Heritage Preservation Commission, and the Taylors Falls Historical Society have officially supported the project. Members of the volunteer steering committee for the restoration are Joanne Frank, Susan Heaven, and Clarence Nelson. Any broken loafer rails have been welded together and they are being rethreaded in preparation for mounting, and the railing itself must be sanded and painted. The Women’s Civic League, founded in 1912, voted as one of its last projects before disbanding in 2012, to make a major donation of remaining funds to the railing restoration project. One of the commitments made by the steering committee is that no Taylors Falls City tax monies would be involved and the community, and public at large, would raise the $600 of additional funding needed to complete the project, over and above the Women’s Civic League donation.
In 1948 the railroad depot closed, and with the financial assistance and hard work of nearly every man, woman and child in Taylors Falls, this historic building was converted into the Memorial Community Center.