• 63°

On the fence: Lee Wagoner breaks up boulevard monotony

SALISBURY — If you’ve ever driven along Jake Alexander Boulevard — and who in Rowan County hasn’t? — you might have noticed Lee Wagoner’s long fence, stretching toward the Faith Road intersection.

The fence is Wagoner’s canvas. Most people are drawn to the bicycle attached to it and marvel at the unusual, three-dimensional texture Wagoner has given the fence. Since 2016, she has decorated it with seasonal and holiday themes — and even heartfelt prayers.

Last October, for example, Wagoner affixed 100 signed, pink hearts to the fence so her daughter-in-law, Amy Wagoner, who was dealing with breast cancer, could see them every day from her house across the five-lane highway.

“I thought it would cheer her to see the hearts up there,” Wagoner says.

Amy is doing great, by the way.

Lee and her husband, Bobby, put up their tall fence along Jake Alexander Boulevard about 10 years ago, mostly to serve as a trash and sound buffer. But Lee’s creativity and craftiness finally could not resist doing something more with the mundane barrier.

“Why do we have to be boring?” Lee asks. “… The fence is cool, and I like pretty things.”

Now people see her around town and say, “Oh, you’re the fence lady.”

It’s not unusual for motorists to slow down or stop for a closer look at the fence, and the more curious frequently try to find the Wagoner house off Vine Street to talk more about it.

“I’m happy that my husband’s so tolerant,” Lee says. “I told him I made him a star.”

The Wagoners also have handsomely landscaped the small embankment next to the fence, and the city of Salisbury’s Community Appearance Commission once named it the residential “Landscape of the Month.”

“I get such a great reaction,” says Wagoner, a former accountant and retired caterer.

Once a neighbor left her four handmade birdhouses to go with her fence’s spring/Easter theme. He left them for her to find, tucked behind the fence. Wagoner was touched.

“They’re beautiful,” she says. “I just thought that was so kind.”

The texture of the fence comes from boards that provided a long ramp for her late mother, who had lived with the Wagoners for 10 years.

Instead of discarding the wood after her mother’s death, Lee used various saws in Bobby’s shop to cut the boards into different sized pieces, which she then nailed to the fence in a random, but somehow beautiful, way.

“It kind of fit where it fit,” Wagoner says.

She also painted much of her fence black, which is unusual but striking. In a few sections, Wagoner left the pieces of wood unpainted, and many people seem to like that touch, too.

“It seems every month or so there are different colors, items attached on this fencing,” Madeline J. Zieverink said in an email to the Post “… I enjoy riding by there and seeing what is new and creative on the fence.”

This whole thing with the fence started in about April 2016, and it was partly inspired by a sermon Lee Wagoner heard from the Rev. Rhodes Woolly, pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church. He had talked one Sunday about Adam and Eve and how “it started in a garden.”

In a way, the fence is Lee’s garden.

The bicycle represents one of the fence’s conversation pieces. Lee says she saw it discarded in some trash along the street and decided to incorporate it. Depending on her fence theme, the bicycle has been painted purple, pink and white.

It once was stolen off the fence, but someone called the Wagoners and told them the bicycle had been left on a corner not far from the house.

“It’s cut — you can’t ride it,” Lee says.

Wagoner apologizes for the state the fence is in right now. She’s preparing to change everything for the holidays. Look for Santas and elves in the days and weeks ahead. Further in the future, Wagoner thinks she’ll turn to mosaic and a carousel horse theme for at least four sections of the fence.

“Sometimes my ideas are years ahead of me,” she says.

Meanwhile, Wagoner is sharpening her skills and learning how to weld from Bobby. She has never thought she was the artist in her family, “but I can build or make anything, and if I can’t I have someone show me.”

As for her fence, you keep coming back to Wagoner’s simple canon: Why do we have to be boring?

“I get joy out of it,” Wagoner says. “I’m glad it’s appreciated more than anything.”

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263 or mark.wineka@salisburypost.com.

Comments

Local

‘Meet the need’: Rowan County Health Department looks to add to vaccination options

Local

Seaford is first woman in county hired for town manager position since the ’90s

Local

Colonial Spring Frolic makes a comeback to kick off museum’s year

Local

Concord City Council wants to name bridge for fallen officer, Rowan native

Education

RSS administration will recommend selling Faith Elementary property to charter school

Business

Inspired by advice from father-in-law, Angela Mills launches her own business in memory of him

Local

Rowan County Democrats re-elect leaders, pass resolutions

Local

Baseball: Memories come alive in Ferebee book

Local

During Child Abuse Prevention Month, professionals reflect on detecting abuse in a virtual world

Business

Biz Roundup: Small Business Center announces spring slate of workshop for business owners

Clubs

Kiwanis Pancake Festival starts Friday

Local

Rowan fire marshal seeks to clear up confusion, worry caused by solicitation letter

Education

Fun every day: Fifth anniversary for Yadkin Path Montessori School

Nation/World

Charles: Royal family ‘deeply grateful’ for support for Philip

News

North Carolina sites to resume J&J vaccines after CDC review

News

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Playoff time means get ready for ‘big-boy football’

High School

High school football: Hornets overpower South to secure playoff spot

Crime

Jeffrey MacDonald won’t be released despite deteriorating health

Business

Amazon warehouse workers reject union in Alabama

Nation/World

Ex-NFL player’s brain to be probed for trauma-related harm after Rock Hill shootings

Education

Duke University to require COVID vaccinations for fall term

Education

Cooper OKs bill offering K-12 students summer school option

High School

High school football: Record night for Pinckney as East cruises; Carson wins thriller in OT