Lincoln County Public Library
We often think of fences as barriers to keep us out.
But they can also capture our imaginations and invite us in.
They can hide secret gardens…
Or reveal all to the neighborhood.
They define borders.
And block out things we don’t want to see.
They can be functional.
They can make a personal statement.
Or inspire us to make a personal statement.
They can be living and green.
They can remind us of our past.
And tie our modern lives to it.
Gates can invite access
Or discourage it.
Gates can serve a simple purpose
Or provide a ceremonial entrance.
(Even if the fence is gone.)
In the past, fences were more common in our community than they are now.
Whitworth College was surrounded with a fence to keep the girls in and the boys out.
Fences were decorative—but they also kept the livestock out of the landscaping
And off the railroad tracks.
A decorative and functional fence surrounded the old court house and jail.
The decorative retaining wall of the modern-style replacement serves another purpose.
Even the cemetery had blocks framed with fences.
Which were removed for ease of maintenance as much as anything else.
Fences serve a variety of physical and psychological purposes, bringing us together or keeping us apart.
They tell the world how we see ourselves,
What we want others to see,
And what we’d just as soon keep hidden.
They can be strictly functional,
Or purely decorative,
Fences are woven into the fabric of our lives.