Waupaca and its’ environs presented William Waters with many design opportunities. There was one building I’d always suspected of being a “Waters Job” and that would be a rundown bar on Union Street just east of Main Street. I first glimpsed a picture of it in “Illustrated Waupaca” and thought at once that it may have been the work of Mr. Waters. A more recent photograph was part of the Waupaca building survey, which I found online at the Wisconsin Historical Society. The
accompanying description called it the Post Office Block, built in 1880 but
there was no mention of the architect.
The block was not part of the Main Street Historic District so it wasn’t
There seemed to be a dearth of information on the building but still I
believed it to be designed by architect Waters and here’s why; It is of the template so often used by the architect,
that being two stores on either side of a stair way to the second floor. The other reason is the intricate brick work
and details. The drawing in “Illustrated Waupaca”, which was based on the
photograph shows parapets rising from the brick work cornice, a feature common
for Mr. Waters commercial building from that time. Much of that detail was
removed over the years, perhaps for maintenance reasons. There were some uncommon design elements as
well, first the peaked window arches of the second floor were unusual and the chamfered corner of the front door of what must have been the post office, in other buildings the cut
corner would have extended to the second floor. By 1893 the post office had moved to the
Roberts block and what had been the post office became Nelson’s Bar, serving
Saturday, April 15, 2017
The decade of the 1880’s saw much activity in Wisconsin’s north country. Immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia and eastern Europe found a fresh start in the forests of Wisconsin. The city of Waupaca was growing rapidly, and as the county seat required all manner of buildings, it too became a center of industry and commerce. Fine brick buildings lined either side of Main Street and a new ornate court house dominated the square at the center of town.
Another job in Waupaca undertaken by Mr. Waters was in 1909. Attorney Irving P. Lord hired Waters to design a business block with two retail spaces on the first floor and offices on the second floor. Architect Waters planed in the Neo-classic Style, built of red brick with limestone trim and metal cornice, complete with dentils. Large windows on the second floor were favored as they admitted much light and ventilation. Over the years some changes were made; the large second story windows were exchanged for smaller casements and the decorative cornice was removed. At some point the retail space on the ground floor was joined with that of the building next door and a large opening on the Granite Street side was bricked in.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Early on in his career, William Waters had aggressively pursued work away from Oshkosh. By the 1880’s the north woods had become more populated and commercialized with Waupaca county being an area of rapid growth. New London, on the banks of the Wolf River was a fast growing city, ripe with opportunity. In the Oshkosh Times of July 3, 1880 there was a brief article about the new hardware store of J. C. Hoxie in New London. The point of the article however was to point out the several Oshkosh individuals and companies that had played a part in the building’s construction. First to be mentioned was G. F. Stroud who had gone to New London to install two large plate glass windows. The missive goes on to say that J. R. Porter of Oshkosh was the contractor and that William Waters was the architect of the 30’ x 100’, two story structure.
It was indeed an edifice worthy of mention as it added greatly to prestige of North Water Street. It boasted of two of the largest plate glass window in the state, which measure 8’2” x 11’6”. The building was of cream colored brick with three sets of double windows on the second floor the arches of which had keystones and springers with craved rosettes. Intricate brick work capped the top of the building’s front elevation with the rosette motif repeated in the limestone blocks along the parapet and at the tops of pilasters. The building remained a hardware store but changed ownership several times before being replaced by a new, modern building
Monday, March 27, 2017
William Waters also found work in Green Bay. In 1873, on July, 17 the Oshkosh Weekly Northwesters reported that architect Waters was working on plans for an office and business block commissioned by E. J. Shaylor. The article reported that the offices of the Green Bay and Lake Pepin Rail Road were to occupy a three-story section of the building that was to measure 80 x 44 and commercial spaces were to be housed in a two story 80 x 36 section of the $32,000 building. The building as described in the newspaper was not built, what was constructed on the corner of Pine and Adams Streets was a handsome edifice of red brick, with limestone trim and a larger ornate cornice. It was two and half stories high and measured 80 x 44. The building sat on a high foundation with the basement housing shops, large window let in ample light. Access two the first floor was gained by flight of stairs at the front and side of the building. The Shaylor block remains to this day although greatly altered.
Yet another proposal was announced in the Oshkosh Times of May 20, 1893, in a notice to contractors for sealed bids for the construction of a factory for Fred F. Bischoff near Green Bay.
Fred F. Bischoff Manufacturing made sheet metal products and was based in Chicago.
Reports from the Green Bay Press Gazette gave a clear account of what happened; April 28, Messrs. Bischoff and architect Waters visited site proposed by the Allouez Improvement Co., Mr. Bischoff approved the location. May 8, 1893, Mr. Bischoff announced the name of the company would be, Allouez Cycle and Novelty Company. June 26, 1893, Mr. Bischoff dispelled rumors that the new factory was to be located elsewhere. July 12, 1893, Mr. James Elmore, secretary of the Allouez Improvement Company explained to an assembled group how the sale of land worked and the introduced Mr. Bischoff who spoke of his plans for the factory. August 9, 1893, Mr. Elmore told the press that the contractor hadn’t been paid and had ceased work on the factory. The upshot of all of this was that the factory was never built, if it had it was to be three stories high, measuring 350’ x 60’ with the front entrance at the center on River Road and would have employed seven hundred people.
More work in Green Bay and Stevens Point came to Mr. Waters early in the twentieth century with the planning of depots in both those cities for the Green Bay and Western Rail Road. This fact was briefly noted in the Oshkosh Observer of April 11, 1902 in a piece about the firm of Wm. Waters and Son. The Green Bay depot was grand, befitting the rail road’s home town. It was a two-story brick structure set on a high limestone foundation, capped by a tile, hip roof with large dormers, the platform was also shielded by tile clad roofs. As for the Stevens Point depot, it was more pedestrian, a simple one story brick building which served the needs adequately.
Friday, March 10, 2017
Of all Mr. Waters' Appleton, commercial buildings there were five I had trouble pin pointing. They were; the Moore and Galpin block, Dr. Sutherlands Block, the Smith Block, the Bertschy Block and Mr. Tisher's Store. I had no clue about the Tischer store, what it looked like or where it may have been, the others I was able speculate as to which building they were.
I'll start with the Moore and Galpin block, built in 1871. Per the 1887 Appleton city directory, Harold and Algernon Galpin maintain an office above White’s Hardware store, the same directory give the location of White’s store as “n s College av., 8 w Durkee.” Indeed, an 1883 fire insurance map show a hardware store at that location. The brick building exhibits many of the features that are hall marks of a Waters’ designed business block, most notably two stores flanking a central stairway to the second floor. There is also an intricate brick work cornice and parapet along the top of the structure.
There are references to the Sutherland Block in the early city directories and one in “Ryan’s History of Outagamie County” in the biography of Gilbert Ullman. Other than being on College Avenue there were no clues to guide me in my search for the building. I knew the building was constructed in 1871 and that was all. There was one building on the north side of the avenue however that was an exact duplicate of a building on Main St. in Oshkosh, the Weston Block. The brick work in both the Appleton and Oshkosh buildings were nearly identical to the brick work of Mr. Waters’ Phoenix Fire, also built in 1871. I thus concluded that the building on the north side of College Ave., one building west of the corner of Morrison St. to be the Sutherland Block.
I was stymied by the Smith Block, a building erected by A. L. Smith in 1873. Where was it located and what did it look like? While perusing the Appleton city directory of 1877, I notice an advertisement for the Appleton Crescent which state their office to be on the third floor of the Smith Block. A listing of attorneys and physicians show that many of these professionals had offices in the Smith Block. I went back to the photo collection of the Appleton Public Library and looked for a large, three story building that look as if it was built in 1873. I noticed just such a structure in a postcard of the north side of College between Morrison and Oneida. Upon closer inspection, I could see the familiar Waters traits, it was two side by side, three story versions of the arrangement so often used by the architect, that being a stairway to the upper floors between two stores. Mystery solved.
There was no mystery to the Bertschy Block, the 1877 city directory lists P. H. Bertschy and E. N. Johnson as having a dry goods store at 143 College Avenue and the fire insurance map of 1883 confirms that there was indeed a dry goods store at that address. The building exhibited many features that marked as the work of William Waters, the rosettes carved in the keystone and springers of the center pediment were the most obvious. Opportunities in Appleton provided Mr. Waters with much work early in his career and he continued getting commissions in that fair city.
Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Listed among the Appleton buildings designed by William Waters in 1873 was Mr. H. A. Foster's Drug Store. A truly impressive building as an anonymous reporter for The Oshkosh Times told of his trip to Appleton in the September 3, 1873 edition of the paper. The author was asked to accompany Messrs. White and Alexander, proprietor of an Appleton livery stable, to that city. The report tells of the fast growing town and what a credit to the city were the many fine business block erected along College Avenue.
Of particular interest was the Foster Drug Store, which the author describes as being “One of the handsomest that we’ve seen in the west, outside of Chicago”. He goes on to note that the plans were drawn by William Waters who was superintendent of construction. The stores furniture was provided by Brand and Cole of Oshkosh with counters and display case made of Walnut and Oak. The writer goes on to laud everyone who made for a successful business block and encourages visitors to Appleton to call at Foster’s store.
Over the years there were alteration made to the building before it was demolished. There were other commercial buildings in Appleton that came from Mr. Waters drawing board and these have been the object of previous posts: they include the First National, Manufacturer’s and Commercial Banks as well as the Sherman House and Framer’s Hotel.Architect Waters also drew plans for several other commercial building which be the subject of subsequent posts.
Thursday, February 9, 2017
The origins of Appleton's nineteenth century commercial building are not always easy to trace. There are two building surveys, one from 1978 and another from 1989, also the Wisconsin State Historical Society has an online photo inventory of many Appleton building with some notation about architects, such as William Waters.
Of the ten commercial building listed in the 1871 Winnebago County Press and 1873 Oshkosh Daily Northwestern newspaper articles, I’ve positively identified five of them. There were other buildings by Mr. Waters not listed in these articles, the Sherman House, Farmer's Hotel and the George Walter's Brewery. The First National Bank and Manufactures Bank were both described in a post entitled Bill's Banks, Part Two from May of 2014. I will start with the ones that are validated as coming from the drawing board of architect Waters. On the south side of E. College Ave. not far from the campus there are several old shops. The oldest of these are the Smith stores, two identical building built in 1871. They were not architecturally extraordinary but rather plain. In each structure there is a store front with a stairway at the side leading to the second floor. There were three windows across the upper floor and modest brick work on the cornice. At some point the second stories windows of one of the building were altered, detracting from the original harmony.
To the east of the Smith buildings was the Warner and Whorton block. Constructed in 1873 the block employed a familiar template; two store fronts on either side of a stairway to the upper floor. The building displayed Gothic details in the windows and featured on ornate metal cornice,
the building survived with few alterations. Mr. Waters was also the architect of Mr. Whorton's house, built in 1871.