Monday, May 22, 2017

115 Algoma Blvd.

I’ve written pieces about every building I know to have been designed by William Waters. My last two missives were speculative in that I had no confirmation of Mr. Waters’ affiliation with the design of the structures, just my intuition, this and future post will just as intuitive and many posts will focus on architect Waters’ earlier work.
A few years ago, I asked Dan Radig, an artist, historian, archivist and Facebook friend if he had any photos of some of the houses demolished to make way the phone company’s new building on Algoma Boulevard.  In return he sent some great pictures I’d not seen before.  One was of number 115 Algoma, the address before the renumbering of 1957, which was across the street from what is now Oshkosh City Hall.  Many design elements were familiar, like those of Joshua Daltons residence on Central Street. (See post from March 30, 2015.)  The layout of both houses was the same and the front porches were small with an enclosed vestibule.  A look back at the sketches collected by young William Waters Jr. in the mid 1870’s reviled the gable and window trim details to be the work of the elder Waters, I was sure of it.  The Oshkosh city directory of 1890 was the first to list street addresses and occupants name,  115 Algoma is listed as the residence of T. J. Gannon, a commercial traveler, it also the first-time Mr. Gannon’s name appears in the city directories.  A Herculean task I’m not up for, would be to go through the appropriate directories name by name to ascertain for whom the house was built.  For now, the name of the dwelling’s first resident will remain a mystery.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pratt's Block of Ripon

Many years ago, I traveled to Ripon Wisconsin to research some buildings there designed by William Waters.  My destination was the public library and the archive on local history.  I found an image of the town square and one of the buildings pictured there was to my thinking the work of Mr. Waters.  It bore many of the hallmarks of a “Waters job”; a chamfered corner entrance with a set of triplet windows just below the pediment, an intricate brick work cornice and stairways to the second floor between store fronts.  I finished up at the library and drove to the town square and found the building I’d seen in the picture with the inscription just below the pediment, “Pratt’s Block”.
 Perhaps I should have returned to the library that day and researched the Pratt block but time would not allow that.  Over the next many years, I tried to ascertain if indeed Mr. Waters was the architect of the block but my efforts never yielded an answer.  I did discover that the building contributed to the Watson Street historic district of Ripon but none of the research on the building named the designer.  In that research, there’s a was a lengthy description and a brief history of the building which revealed it was built in 1885 as a replacement for a structure destroyed by fire.  There were newspaper accounts of the fire and how a company of firefighters from Oshkosh was dispatch to help extinguish the blaze but no mention in the subsequent months of a replacement building.  Given the Pratt’s Blocks great resemblance to other buildings by Mr. Waters from that time I continue to believe it to be his work and I shall persist in my search.                 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waupaca Suspect

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 researched.
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 Pabst beer.             

Saturday, April 15, 2017

More Work in Waupaca

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. 
 One of the most conspicuous commercial buildings on Main St. was the Roberts Block, the first section of which was constructed in 1884 using plans drawn by William Waters.  The building was of dark red brick with courses of black brick as accent, bands of lime stone and tale also adorn the fa├žade.  Pictorial evidence conflicts with written time lines, the 1888 publication “Illustrated Waupaca” indicated that an addition to the south end of the building had already been erected.  This expansion was of three stories and employed the same decorative motifs as the original block and incorporated a diminutive tower at the building’s terminus.  The Wisconsin State Historical Society’s records suggest that the annex of 1893 included that portion which housed the Post Office plus another two store fronts to the south.  The actual construction date is left to conjecture, whatever took place the completed Roberts Block was an impressive piece of architecture.
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

New London Business

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

Commercial Buildings in Green Bay

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

Appleton Commercial Buildings, Part 3

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.