Years of weathering and vandalism took a toll on the piece of the China Wall located at Pioneer Park in Clintonville.
Antigo mason Tom Dahlke,recently restored the wall to much of its original state.
Mary Beth Kuester, with the Clintonville Area Historical Society, worked with her sister Kay Kuester-Doran to find a mason who could tackle the project.
Dahlke was willing and able, so the society hired him to restore the wall.
Kuester said the society’s maintenance chairperson, Rich Beggs, helped make sure Dahlke had what he needed to get the project done.
“Tom kept as much of the original wall as possible,” Kuester said. “He worked on it for about four days. He fixed the lions and the capstones, as well as the structure underneath. He did a very nice job, and we’re very pleased.”
Kuester said the society will probably put some kind of roof over the wall to protect it from precipitation.
“This wall means a lot to a lot of people,” said Kuester. “We want to do what we can to protect it and keep it looking as wonderful as it does now.”
History of the wall
Though many refer to the wall as part of the Great Wall of China, Kuester said that may not be accurate.
“There is some question about whether or not the piece of wall we have was ever a part of the Great Wall of China,” said Kuester. “A nameplate attached to the wall notes that the wall came from Canton, which is in the southeast portion of China. The Great Wall of China was built to defend the northern borders of China. In any event, the wall is made from ancient stones, and it did come from China.”
Walter A. Olen was delivering trucks to China in 1922 when he saw a portion of the wall that was likely going to be destroyed. He asked if he could bring them back to the United States, and was given permission. The pieces of the wall were packed in crates marked “truck parts” and made their way to the United States. The pieces were reassembled in Clintonville and placed in what is now W.A. Olen Park. The wall was later moved to the Clintonville Area Historical Society grounds.
Pioneer Park is open on Saturdays from 1-4 p.m. during the summer. The China Wall is outside, and can be viewed at any time.