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Iron Fence

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John Seaton



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In 1891 the Board of Regents,in an effort to add dignity and beauty to the University campus, authorized the construction of a decorative iron fence to surround the original city campus. The iron fence ran the length of R street from 10th to 12th, 10th and 12th streets from R to T, and along T street from 10th to 12th. This formed an enclosure for the original campus that existed until 1925.

The fence was constructed of iron with decorative posts and gates. Popular stories suggest that the fence was constructed to keep cows from grazing on the University grounds. More likely, the fence was added to give the University a sense of place, and to control sometimes hazardous wagon and buggy traffic. A formal arrangement of driveways and sidewalks was also developed at this time. By the time Chancellor Canfield arrived in July 1891, work was underway to transform the campus from a raw and ragged prairie to an area more closely resembling a campus. The University used the delineated area to define the campus and set it apart from downtown Lincoln and the nearby neighborhoods. Specific rules of conduct applied within the fence, where smoking and drinking were forbidden.

As the University grew, first to the north, and later to the east, the iron fence became more of an impediment than an asset. When a serious fire occured and fire engines were not able to pass through the width of the old gates, the decision was made to remove the fence.

The fence was dismantled in 1925, and was placed around Wyuka Cemetery, where it is still in use.

Source Information:
Archives and Special Collections, UNL Libraries