Sunday, December 5, 2010

William Waters and the early Oshkosh Schools

On January first 1867 William Waters found himself newly arrived, newly wed and newly established as an architect in Oshkosh Wisconsin, just nineteen days before he had married Catherine Follett after traveling from New York State. The young professional set about the practice of architecture. Two jobs were to come his way that first year: the Harding Opera House and St. Peter's Church. Both projects were plagued by funding woes and lingered for years before completion. But young William had a great deal going for him; he was twenty four years old, handsome, well schooled and experienced with a strong work ethic. His wife's father had been the third mayor of the city and although deceased, the former mayors' family was still politically influential. It was not long before Waters developed a relationship with the city and its' school board, a relationship that would serve him well to end of his days.

At that time there were seven public schools in the city. The notated map above shows location and gives a brief explanation of the structures under consideration. In May of 1868 the city was in need of a new school house in the 4th ward to replace a building on corner of Jefferson and Merritt Streets. Mr. Waters was given the job of designing the new building to be located on lots between Jefferson and Mt. Vernon Sts. just north of Merritt. By early September it was nearly complete. The two story frame structure fronted on Jefferson St. and was transverse in form with three front entrances and a tower at the center. There were two main rooms on each floor measuring 32' x 33' x 15' high. The school board further decided to relieve overcrowding down in the second ward. To that end, it was proposed to move the vacant school house on the corner of Merritt and Jefferson about a half mile to the corner of Otter and Mill Sts. where it would be joined with a building already on the site. Mr. Waters was given the job of overseeing the move and refurbishing of the two schools.

Come 1869 the school board was dealing with a number of over crowed schools. That May another school was being considered for the forth ward with drawings supplied by Waters. The site was the corner of Jefferson and Irving Sts. The newspapers of the time are silent as to appearance of the building and its size. Also a mystery was if it was intended to augment or replace the building from the previous year. Another problem was the fifth ward, which covered a great deal of real estate and was served by two schools, both in need of improvement. The first of these was at the south east corner of Elm and Vine Sts. and the other in the remote suburb of Algoma. The board opted for additions to both locations and Waters drew plans as well as served as superintendent of construction. Here again there are no descriptions in the press. On the south side of the river the 3rd Ward School was said to be a well lighted, ventilated and warmed building but badly crowed. The school boards committee recommended an addition rather than a new building. Lots adjoining the school were purchased and Mr. Waters drew plans for a sympathetic addition. Construction was started in June and was completed by September, the addition and wing more than doubled the size of the school. Above is an image of the completed Third Ward School as well as a wood cut of the First Ward School from the collection of the Oshkosh Public Museum. Of interest is the similar architectural style of both schools. Perhaps the original architect of the Third Ward Schools and the First Ward School were one and the same.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Tale of Two Banks

Oshkosh came into the twentieth century as an economic power house and the city was showing it. The wealthy in town were replacing unfashionable older homes and the newly rich were building large stylish dwellings along Washington Avenue, Algoma Blvd. and Jackson St. The well to do yachtsmen built a new club house that was the envy of all other clubs. Businesses were in a mood to update as well. In 1903 the Oshkosh Logging Tool Company built a substantial factory on the south side of the Fox River. That same year the German American Bank was considering a new building and the State Bank of Oshkosh was incorporated.
Bank buildings had long been a specialty of William Waters, over the years he'd designed seventeen structures devoted to that purpose. It was not surprising the German American Bank turned to Mr. Water for its new building. The bank was in need of more space and decided to build on the west side of Main St. between Peal and High Sts. The construction contract was awarded to C. R. Meyer Company. Mr. Waters presented an elegant classical style building replete this Corinthian columns flanking the front doors. Waters had done a number of structures in that style since 1900; the Oshkosh Public Library and the Oshkosh Yacht Club, both were classically inspired. The bank opened in 1904 as the New German American Bank and occupied the space until the late 1960's when a new building was put up and the old was demolished. An early photo of the bank show "New German American Bank" inscribed in the frieze just below the cornice. A later image reveals a change; the inscription reads "New American Bank". The anti-German sentiment engendered by the war forced the change.

The State Bank of Oshkosh was newly incorporated in 1903, working out of offices on Oregon St. between 8th and 9th Streets. By 1910 the bank could afford to erect a new building. Plans were drawn by Waters and construction was started by C. R. Meyer as contractor. The edifice was to be be rough-hewn limestone, a building material Waters had used successfully in so many impressive structures such as Trinity Episcopal Church, Moses Hooper residence and the Algoma Street Methodist Church. These two bank buildings were unalike in style and surface texture but identical in fenestration. All of the New German American Bank's building was given over to bank business. It was the intention of the State Bank to rent the second floor as a way to generate income. After sometime a tenant was found. At the Library Board meeting of October 1, 1912 it was decided to open a south side branch library on the second floor the State Bank of Oshkosh. After the bank failed the library stayed and occupied the entire building.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Appleton residences Part Two

In "Appleton residences part one" three houses from the 1880's were reviewed. This post will deal with three more dwellings from later dates. As the decade of the 80's came into full flower Mr. Waters altered his approach to the Queen Anne style. These later works show a more ornate and delicate nature. The same elements; porches, bay windows and chimneys are prominent but feel different as does the mass of the structure. There is a greater variety of surface texture and ornamentation. Varied fenestration adds visual appeal.

The dwellings under consideration were all of wooden frame construction, two date from 1885 and one from 1890, all have been razed. They are the Peabody home, A. W. Patton residence and the Stimson house. Mr. Peabody was a successful merchant, operator of the Pettibone and Peabody dry goods store. In 1885 he had a charming Queen Anne style house built near the Lawrence campus. A porch rapped around two sides and access was gained by steps on either side. The first story was clad with clapboards and the second with shingles. There is a bay which rises from the second floor to the attic and there is an elegant oval window above the porch. An ornate cartouche occupies the space between two gable windows and the gables are supported gracefully curved brackets. At sometime Lawrence acquired the place and used it for a while and later demolished it to accommodate a new building.
A. W. Patton was the president of the Patton Paper Co. and resident of Neenah prior to having a home built in 1885 on Appleton's Park St. The structure was covered with clapboard siding and had porches at both ends and a small entry porch with a bay above at the center of the front elevation. To the left, a second story bay window extended to the attic floor. The gable at that end of the house was bolstered by four small brackets and the gable was filled with two windows and decorative wood work. At the far right was a pavilion with a projecting second floor bay, the gable of which was braced by curved brackets and adorned with a long, narrow, hooded window.
Mr. and Mrs. Stimson had a large home built on North St in 1890. J. E. H. Stimson was a successful photographer and needed a big place to raise their seven children, The dwelling had an intimate feel to it. The form was much like that of the English cottage Waters designed for R. P. Finney of Oshkosh, mentioned in an earlier post. The building had clapboard siding on the first story and shingles on the upper floors To the right on the front was a pavilion, the second story projecting over a bay on the first floor. The gable featured a hooded triplet window.
A transverse pavilion formed the main body of the structure the roof line of which swept down past the second floor to cover the front entry porch. Just above the porch was a balcony with an arched opening to the side as well as the front. Just beyond the balcony opening was the bay which accommodated the stairway. At the rear of the house was side porch and entrance.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Appleton residences Part One

Appleton played an important part in the development of northeastern Wisconsin. As early as 1847 it was established as a seat of learning with the charter of Lawrence University and the seat of county government in 1851. In the early 1870's the city was already a hub of commerce and manufacturing. William Waters found the aggressive community a good place to do business.

An earlier post mentions Waters' Italianate residential work but there was much more to architectural activities in that fair city. He designed not only dwellings but banks, stories, hotels, churches and schools, Mr. Waters was responsible for the design of some thirty two buildings in Appleton. That is the number that can be verified. There are probably more undocumented commercial and residential works yet to be discovered.

Waters initial efforts besides the
Goff and Whorton residences were for
the most part commercial structures
including one for Mr. Whorton and his business partner. As the 1880's bloomed William Waters was doing more residential work. Eleven homes can be attributed to Mr. Waters. This post will feature three dwellings from the years 1881 and 1882. They are the homes of H. J. Rogers, J. R. Wood and H. D. Smith. All are the Queen Anne style and are of a large and
robust nature. Architectural
features to note are large porches,
bay windows and prominent chimneys.
Consider first the Rogers home, situated on a bluff above the For River and fronting on Prospect Avenue, the house was built of brick with porches on three sides. It could have been regarded as the finest dwelling built in 1881. Rogers a mill operator also owned the Appleton
Gas Light utility and was convinced in 1882 to have his mill and new house wired for electricity, thus becoming the first house in America to be lighted with electric lights.

H. D. Smith a banker and investor
built his house on East John Street
next to J. R. Wood. Mr Wood was an
Appleton pioneer and banker with
large holdings in the Upper Peninsula.
His home was designed to accommodate a large family. It was a spacious wooden frame structure with a porch and a baloney above.
There was a small
porch at the side of the
house. Next door, the Smith place was also of wooden frame construction and boasted a large front porch and bay window. Three large chimneys
tower over the roof line which is crowned with decorative iron work.
Some years after Mr. Smiths' death his widow donated the house to Lawrence University.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Intricate brick work

The commercial buildings designed by William
Waters in the late 1860's and early 1870's featured
some fairly intricate brick work. Many of these devises seem to serve as hallmarks to him as architect and date of design. That is not to say other architects didn't employ the same elements
but they are often seen in Mr Waters' buildings.

As noted in other posts Waters used a design template for some commercial buildings that consisted of two stores with a stairway to the second floor between them. The front elevation
of this design would have walls each side of the building and two more walls on either side of the central stairway. The end of these walls, although not a broad expanse, provided ample room for
ornamentation. In some cases the bricks would be stepped out to form a small plain. Within that plain some bricks were recessed to form a cross as seen in example one.

Most of the fancy brick work was confined to the wall surfaces on the second or third floors. Often Waters would add recessed panels to fill the space between the window openings, shown in example two. Example three shows another aspect worthy of note, the inverted corners of the window openings. These were the same height as the recessed wall panels. The effect was to give the wall a rhythmic segmented look. In some instances the architect chose to add brick bands of contrasting color as well as courses and caps of limestone. Other limestone trim might include keystones above the window or a plinth block at the base of a decorative lintel.

Other architects would sometime add a cornice of wood to a brick structure. Mr Waters used brick to create the cornice. By stepping the bricks away from the wall he was able to fashion niches and recessed panels as in example five. Mr Waters was fond of incorporating a central pediment, see example six. these too were achieved by building out from the wall and recessing certain areas.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The fire of 1874

The fire in August of 1874 consumed the buildings along both sides of Main St. from Algoma St. north to Irving St. and east to Broad St. Many of the structures designed by William Waters and erected after that blaze remain to this day.


An imposing edifice is the Wagner Opera House at the corner of Main and Merritt Streets. Wagner had maintained an establishment on that corner since the late 1860's. To the left is an image of the hall as it appeared in 1872. The fire destroyed the original structure and Wagner rebuilt using plans drawn by Waters. Not long after construction was finished Mr. Wagner decided to get out of the opera house business and sold the place the the First Methodist Episcopal Church.

The Methodists
must have liked the
hall for they remained there until the 1960's. After the Methodists moved the building had many different uses. There have been some alteration over the years; enlarged window on the south elevation, the tower and front pediment were removed and the building was re-roofed some time early in the twentieth century but still remains much as it was when constructed. One curious aspect is its color. Many years ago the brick on first and second stories and cleaned but the third floor was left a dark brown giving an odd appearance.

The Harding Opera house also went up in flames. It was a Waters designed and was erected in fits and starts. Located just north the the First National Bank, construction began in 1867 but was halted dew to lack of funds. Work resumed in 1870 and was completed by 1872. There were two stores flanking a central entrance to the auditorium on the second floor like that seen in Wagner's hall. There are no images of this structure that I know of. After the fire the Fraker Opera house was built on the same lot but was not of Waters' design.
Is is ironical that another building affected by the
conflagration was the Phoenix fire house. Built in 1871, it shared the same basic design as that of the Brooklyn fire house just across the river on Sixth St. The Phoenix however lay in the path of the blaze and was left a burnt out shell. Rising from the ashes like its name sake the fire house was rebuilt and served for many years. Eventually
the building ceased to server the fire department and was sold. By the 1940's the structure had been converted to retail space, sans the tower and observatory. In the photo montage above, with images from the collection of the Oshkosh Public Museum, is pictured the house shortly after construction with a brave fire fighter standing at the peak of the gable. Just below is seen the aftermath of the fire and to the right of that the rebuilt Phoenix with an observatory added atop the tower. There is also a picture of the wallpaper store it became. The building withstood the test of fire but not the test of time. It fell to the wrecker's ball in the 1970's to make way for a parking lot.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

After the fire

By the early 1870's Oshkosh was well on it's way to becoming an important city of manufacturing and commerce. It did suffer a few set backs, however. With a reliance on wood as a construction material and the fire fighting technology of the time the city was prone to destruction by fire. Five times; 1859, 1866, twice in 1874 and finally in 1875 major portion of the business district were consumed by flames and subsequently rebuilt. I will devote the next few entries to Waters' post conflagration works.

The fires of 1859 and 1866 destroyed
much of what was the business district
to varying degrees. The first fire in May of 1874 had no effect on the businesses along Main St. In August another conflagration consumed a large area from Main and Algoma / Washington Sts. north to Irving and as far east as Broad St. There is a dearth of information about reconstruction after these four fires. The blaze of 1875 and its aftermath was the subject of much newspaper print. Starting a few blocks west of Main St. near the river the flames, pushed by strong winds moved to the east and north destroying much of what lay in its path from Ceape St. to Washington St. and to the east well past the Court House.

Reconstruction started soon after, as the newspaper account will attest. Mr. Waters office was drawing "Plan by the yard" as draftsman J.P. Jensen put it. Waters had under his purview some 35 commercial structures that year. Perhaps one of the most interesting undertakings was the east side of Main St. from Ceape to Otter St. Misters Griffin, Ernst and Hubbard owned adjoining lots and were convinced to build identical buildings. In this row of stores the architect uses a form described in an earlier post, two stores with a stairways leading to the second floor between them. The row consists of four such buildings with single slightly larger store between the last two at the right, as seen in the first image. In the next block up Waters designed buildings for H. Bammessell and R. McKenzie, as well as others. The buildings were not adjacent as implied by the second image. All but one of the building on the east side the next block north were of Waters' design.


A structure of particular beauty was the Union Bank located on the northwest corner of Main and High Sts. It featured a cut corner entrance with an arched opening and recessed doors. Above the doors was arched window flanked by columns supporting a cornice upon which rested an arched pediment. Beyond the pediment was something like a plinth inscribed with the word bank. On the Main St. elevation pilasters either side of a large arched window supported small ledge. There were pilasters as well on the second floor bolstering a cornice. A set of double window filled the center of the wall. The fenestration along the the south elevation was regular with rows of four windows from foundation to the second floor. Pilasters at the west end the the building define another commercial space with a window and entrance gained by a small flight of steps. There were two window on the second floor.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Waters and the Italianate style

In the late 1860's and early 1870's the Italianate style was very popular with the wealthy home builder. William Waters designed many fine dwellings in this style both of brick and wood. In such cities as Oshkosh he designed the S. M. Hay residence, Appleton the homes of E. C. Goff and J. H. Whorton and in Neenah the same design served both C. B. Clark and Frank Shattuck.

Mr. Hay's brick house was situated near the corner of Algoma Blvd. and Jackson St. A three and a half story tower with observation window at the top was flanked to the right by a pavilion with a low pitch roof supported by decorative brackets. A transverse pavilion flanks the other side. The fenestration was regular with double windows from the foundation to the second floor at the front of the house. The tower held the front entrance which is gained by a flight of seven steps. Above the doors was balcony in front of a set of double windows which were shaded by a decorative canopy. Beyond the canopy was a set of triplet windows just below a projecting railing surrounding the observatory at the top. The tower was capped by a low pitch roof bolstered by twenty brackets and crowned with a small spire. Along the first floor of transverse pavilion was a porch which was accessed from the tower. There were two single window on the porch which were echoed on the floor above. Around the corner on the first floor was a six window bay with a set of double windows above it.

E. C. Goff's house on Prospect Avenue in Appleton was nearly a mirror image of the Hay residence with exception of the bay which was on the front of the house. The building underwent extensive remodeling early in the twentieth century and would not be recognized now as the same structure. Just down the street from the Goff place is the residence of J. H. Whorton. It has remained unchanged since the alteration of the front porch. There is a three story tower to the right, the front of which has a single arch topped window on the first and second floors just below a frieze. Above the frieze, the third floor has two arch topped window on each side. Yet another frieze is above the window with four sets of paired brackets on each side bracing a low pitch roof. Here as with the other designs a spindly spire finishes it off.
At the center of the building is the front door that was originally cover by a small porch and above that a window. Sometime in the 1890's perhaps the front porch was expanded and cover the entire front of the house. To the left is a pavilion with sets of arch top double window on the first and second floors. A small balcony once graced the front of the widows of the first floor but was removed to make way for the porch. At the top of the gable wall is a round window ringed by four keystones like the points of a compass rose. There is a frieze with paired brackets supporting cornice returns and a low pitch roof. Smaller bracket ascend to the peek of the roof on the under side of the eaves on both sides.

An image of the C. B. Clark and Frank Shattuck residences can be seen in an earlier post "Two for the price of one"

Saturday, July 31, 2010

What about Fond Du Lac?

In my early research on William Waters, I carefully noted every city in which Mr. Waters worked.
It was apparent that Oshkosh, Appleton and Neenah and Menasha were fertile ground for the architect's talents. It seemed however that
the city of Fond Du Lac was fallow as there was never any mention made of his work in that city. As research opportunities broadened, an article from 1902 came to my attention. The notice was regarding the departure of William Waters Jr.
from the firm in order to take a position with the army in the Philippines. A short list of cities where the firm had worked included; Green Bay, New Lisbon and Fond Du Lac. The hunt was on, I scoured every online photo archive I could think of looking for any residential, commercial, religious or governmental building that had the look of a "Waters' Job".

Eventually my research lead me to the State of Wisconsin Collection and the Fond Du Lac archives. There in "A Souvenir of Fond Du Lac County Wisconsin", published by C. O. Stiles some time around 1904, I saw a picture of the P. B. Haber residence. Something about the house in the picture was reminiscent of a Waters design. I thought of the George Bergstrom home in Neenah. It shares some of the same characteristics with the Haber home. The gambrel roof that extends to the first floor is found on both structures. The upper porch railings are similar. The
treatment of the gable end while not found on the Bergstrom house is seen in other Waters designs from about that time.

I also considered the time line. No image of the
Haber place appears in an 1898 photo review
of Fond Du Lac, just the 1904 souvenir. Then there is the matter of the written record. An extensive article on Waters published in 1893 lists nearly all the important structures by him to that date. Fond Du Lac and Haber's residence are absent. The city only comes up in the 1902 article. This all leads me to believe the Haber house was built about 1900.

I asked a friend living in Fond Du Lac to see if the Haber place was still there and if so send me pictures. Indeed the house is still there, sans a portion of the front porch and resided top to bottom with beige siding. It is once again a private dwelling after many years as the property of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Now I must find proof that Waters drew the plans for this once graceful building.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Commercial building mystery

It is often easy to recognize certain commercial structures as being the work of William Waters if one know what to look for. Many banks or retail buildings planned for a conner location feature a forty five degree angle cut corner providing another surface for doors, windows and ornamentation. This can be
seen in all the images in this post.

The first image is that of the Commercial Bank of Oshkosh,
from digital collection of the Oshkosh Public Library.
It was built in 1883 and still stands on the southwest corner of
High and Main Sts. although the front of the building has been
altered. The second bank pictured is the Commercial Nation Bank of Appleton, from the collection of the Appleton Public Library. Constructed in 1885, it was destroyed by fire
in the 1920's. Next is the Peterman Block in Merrill
which original housed a bank and several retail concerns. Today it's an Ace Hardware store. All three of these building came form
the drawing board of William Waters. The similarities are
obvious.

Characteristically the entrance is emphasized with a pediment above the door supported by columns. The second or third floors have large windows. A set of small triplet windows occupy the space just below another pediment at the top of the wall. These pediments generally bear an inscription regarding date of construction, name of builder or building purpose. The fenestration of the building is regular often with large double windows set within an arched niche. Decorative brick work such as contrasting courses or bricks set diagonally add visual interest to exterior wall.

The last two buildings pictured here may also be the work of
Mr. Waters. However my inquires about the architect have gone unanswered.
The first of the two is the Pratt block which still stands in downtown Ripon. The second was an office building commissioned by Henry Sherry of Neenah. The Sherry building stood on the corner of W. Wisconsin Av. and Church St. and was demolished many years ago. Waters had many commissions in Ripon including residences, a school, bank and opera house. He certainly may have found other work as well. As for Mr. Sherry's office building, Waters designed the Sherry residence, he may well have been asked to do the office too.
The similarities between the Pratt Block and the Sherry office are too great to be coincidental. The five building are so much alike one can easily conclude that Waters was architect for all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

William Waters and Tudor style Part II

Architectural change is a gradual progression, by the coming
of the twentieth century myriad stylistic changes had become popular. The ornate features of Queen Anne were no longer in fashion. The less cluttered look of colonial revival, foursquare and prairie school were in vogue. Mr. Waters embraced the new trends, satisfying client's desires for au courant designs.

On April 22, 1905 the Northwestern Weekly announced that J. H. Wall, president of Wall-Spalding Lumber Co. was to build a sixteen room dwelling at a cost of $8,000 on the corner of Algoma Blvd. and Light St. from plans drawn by Waters. The paper makes no mention of the style to be used. The original structures ground floor has siding of clapboards and a large front porch with a brick arch feature adjacent to the front entrance. The second floor is clad with cedar shingles above which rise gables with a half timber look. The building is still there and was expanded about one hundred years after construction to better serve as a domestic abuse refuge.
In September of 1906 the Northwester Weekly reports that Phil Sawyer has started construction of a fine home on Algoma Blvd. at a cost of $16,000. Mr. Sawyer was the son of Senator Philetus Sawyer and Edger Sawyer's brother. He served as secretary-treasure for the Oshkosh Gas Light Co. The report goes on to say the plans were done by William Waters in the old English style and will be the first of its kind in Winnebago County. "The walls of the first story are of large paving brick and the walls from there to the roof a combination of timbers and plaster, the timber dividing the plaster into panels for the windows." The dimensions of the house are 51 x 54 feet. On the front elevation, to the left is a pavilion, the second floor of which projects over a large bay window. At center is an arched entry with set triplet windows above.
The entrance is flanked on one side by long porch and to the right is a porte-cochere.
Included here is an elevation for a house much like that of Mr. Sawyer. It is from the archives of the Oshkosh Public museum and is by the hand of William Waters. Perhaps it is a preliminary
idea for the Sawyer residence.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

William Waters and Tudor style Part I

The Tudor Revival style in America had reached its zenith by the mid to late 1920's. It was the choice of the well to do and many fine examples can be seen throughout the country. The style is typified by a ground floor of either brick or stone block and the second floor of half timber construction. A fully developed style by the start of the great depression, its roots can be seen in buildings of the late nineteenth century.
In the 1880's the predominate style for most of the better class of residential architecture was Queen Anne.
It is within this form William Waters first features some Tudor design elements. In the H. J. Rogers house of Appleton a half timber like construction is seen on a portion of the second story. Later with the highly Queen Anne design of H. Babcock's residence in Neenah Waters again employs the half timber look on the upper part of the tower as well as the second floor of the front pavilion.

It was not uncommon to update ageing structures by altering or
adding porches. Sometime around 1900 the front porch and porte-cochere of the Babcock house were remodeled, giving it an even greater Tudor appearance. The changes may well have been the work of Mr. Waters. This top image is of the Babcock residence after alterations were made. The other two sketches are from the archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum and were likely done by Waters himself as preliminary ideas for clients.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Two for the price of one.

In an article about William Waters published in the North- western Weekly on June 25th 1893, the list of works include residences for C.B. Clark and Frank Shattuck of Neenah. The two men were business partners as well as good friends and neighbors. Waters was the architect of many fine homes on East Wisconsin Avenue as well as Forest Avenue. I was eager to know what these houses looked like. A picture of the original Clark residence appears in Suzanne Hart O'Regan's book "Ghosts in Sunlight". The photo is of a large Italianate dwelling, which had been replaced in 1894 and moved to a new location just down the street. That answered my questions about the Clark house. But what did Frank Shattuck's house look like? I looked over the online collections of both Neenah's public library and the historical society. In two images of E. Wisconsin, there where the Shattuck house should be, stood what appears to be the Clark place. I was confused and shared my confusion with someone at the Neenah Historical Society. The news was that the two men had identical houses built side by side. There are however no pictures showing both buildings together.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Early Research

Much of what I learned in my early research on William Waters was taken from three doc-uments; Mr. Waters' obituary, Beer's Commemorative Biographical Record and an article published in the Weekly Northwestern of 6/25/1891. This last document has a long list of Waters' accomplishments. One of the residences listed is that of C. C. Bowles in De Pere. My effort to find an image of the house was finally rewarded with a response from the good people at the De Pere Historical Society. It was not the C. C. Bowles residence however but that of E. E. Bolles, no doubt an error in the original transcription. Later with the publication of the book "A Complication of Articles Pertaining to the Works of William Waters", I found that such misprints were common place. Mr. Bolles owned and operated a wooden ware company. His residence was built in 1882 and was remodeled in the early twentieth century. This large home still stands at 721 North Broadway along the Fox River in De Pere.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Waters' Residential Work

The greatest part of William Waters' practice was devoted to residential architecture. The plans for many fine homes in Oshkosh, Neenah and Appleton came off his drawing board. In this posting I will talk about one particular design template. It is a design Waters started using in the late 188o's and employed for the next fifteen years and is typified by the R.P. Finny residence. Examples of it may be seen throughout Oshkosh and other cities. On December 16 th of 1888 The Sunday Times published a recap of the past season's construction. The Finny home is described in great detail and is referred to as a "Queen Anne Cottage". The house measures 41' X 26' and is a gabled structure with a transverse gable at one side. The roof of the main section sloops past the second story to cover a small porch. This roof is adorned with a decorative dormer, other variations have no dormer. The fenestration of these designs is irregular and may include a bay window under a projecting second floor as in the Charles Babcock home. Exterior surfaces are cover with a combination of clapboards and shingles.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Oshkosh City Hall


The decades following the civil war were marked by great economic growth. The nations westward expansion called for more manufactured goods. By the 1880's Oshkosh had become an important Wisconsin center of population,commerce and manufacturing. Only Milwaukee had more inhabitants. The city was well connected politically as well. U. S. Senator Philetus Sawyer and Congressman Richard Guenther both called Oshkosh home. In 1886 the city leaders decided it was high time Wisconsin's second city have a city hall which reflected its lofty position. "A substantial and ornamental" edifice was needed, the call went out for architects to submit appropriate plans. Architects from Milwaukee, St. Louis and two from Detroit competed for the job. In the end the council awarded the contract to William Waters.

As the plans were made public objections arose regarding the style of the new hall. A newspaper description from the time of construction cites critics as favoring the Romanesque style over the Queen Anne style. The plans detractors considered the Queen Anne style suitable for residential architecture but hardly appropriate for a structure intended to serve for many generations. The great civic buildings of the day were of the Romanesque style, Queen Anne was pass'e.

The hall was constructed in 1887 on the northwest corner of Otter and State Sts. Mr. Water provided plans for a most visual exciting building. City Hall displayed Romanesque styling with the arch windows and entry ways. The turret at the southeast corner of the building seems to be most Queen Anne feature of the design. Perhaps the structure would have looked more Romanesque had it been constructed solely of limestone. It was built of red brick with a high limestone foundation and arched entries on the south and east elevations. A slate roof capped it off. The asymmetry of the building made for a very playful fenestration with window having lintels of red sandstone. Other building trim was of the same red sandstone and the walls had bands of sandstone. One puzzling feature of the building was that the portion housing the council chamber was at a different angle to the rest of the structure. Some years later the entrance on State St. was altered, the arched entry removed and windows added on the second floor. The changes were sympathetic with the original architecture and may have been drawn by Waters.

The hall did serve for many generations. By the 1960's however it had become inadequate to the purposes of city business. The once proud building looked shabby and dilapidated. The tower roof was removed at the level of the bell deck. It fell to the wrecking ball to make way for a parking lot.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Three Sisters

It is easy to say that most church steeples dating from the 1870's were much the same. Some had louvered vents others had clocks. Some had finials, crockets or crosses, all were tall and inspiring. Here, are depicted three church steeples of Mr. Waters early works. Oshkosh's St. Peter and First Congregational and St. Joesph in Appleton. All of them date from the mid 1870's. I was baptized in the old St. Peter's. Before it was demolish the steeple had been rebuilt to about half of what once was. I can recall the old First Congratulation church. It too had its' steeple altered before it was razed in the 1960's . St. Joe's in Appleton still stands. The church has had some additions over the years but the alterations have been sympathetic to the original structure.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Commercial Structures
Commercial buildings were a large part of Waters' practice. Some of his earliest commissions were buildings devoted to business and he continued designing business blocks until the end of his career. Many of his early jobs in Appleton and the fires which destroyed Oshkosh's Main St. gave Mr. Waters ample opportunity to build his skill with regard to store front design. There was one design template in particular that served his clients well. This design consisted of one building with two stores with a stairway to the second floor between the stores. The store front layout depended on client need. Many had a central recessed entry flanked by large display windows. In some cases the entrance was to one side, as seen here in the Commercial Bank,
On the second floor twin or triplet windows provided light and ventilation to offices or flats. At the center of the structure, above the stairway was a single window. This design is well suited to long rows of buildings. A study of business houses from the 1870's will show a few examples of this design template. Mr Waters may not have been the genesis of this design but used extensively were it would work well.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The West Side School in Winne-conne was also built in 1901. The central pavilion has an arched entry flanked by two small windows. Above the entrance are three large arched topped windows. A bellcast hipped roof with a two window dormer is crowned by a small belfry. The main body of the structure has symmetrical fenestration with the first floor windows topped by jack arch lintels. This school is no longer standing.

This is the grade school in Edgar Wisconsin. Mr. Waters seemed to be working his way west. The year before, in 1900 he had designed a High School in New Lisbon. The Edgar school is built of brick and is topped with a bellcast hipped roof. Again, there is an arched entry and symmetry in the fenestration. There are distinctive jack arch lintels on the first floor window as well as those of the center pavilion.
This is an image of the Dartford School. The school was built in 1897 in the village of Dartford, later to become Green Lake. It was a wooden structure with a bellcast hipped roof. There was an arched entry in the center pavilion which was topped by a small belfry. The siding was of clapboard and shingles and the fenestration was much the same as that of Menasha's Forth Ward School. There were dormers at either end, a feature seen only on this school building. The building is no longer standing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Forth Ward School was built in 1891 and was the first of the small school buildings designed by Waters. It was constructed of a light colored brick and had contrasting courses of dark brick. The lintels, sills and pediment cap were cut of lime stone.
The building displays complete symmetry and is topped with Queen Anne style belfry. The structure is no longer standing.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Small Schools


Around the turn of the century Mr. Waters designed a number of small school buildings all based on the same plan. The first of these was Menasha's Forth Ward School built in 1891. This was followed in 1897 by the Dartford School
(Green Lake) and the Punhoqua School in Oshkosh. Winneconne's West side School and the Edgar grade school were built in 1901. The buildings were of an efficient and straight forward design which proved affordable and appealing to the clients. I will publish images of the other schools later.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Waters' birthplace

I've noticed that the current biographies of William Waters erroneously cite his birthplace as Franklin County New York. Mr. Waters was born in the village of Franklin in Delaware County New York. Delaware county is near Pennsylvania in southern part of the state and was in the late 1700's the destination for many migrants from New England. Waters' grandfather removed from Hebron Connecticut to Delaware county in 1798 and commenced to raise crops and children. Waters' father served as town clerk for a term or two and also became a well to do merchant with a local dry good store. William Waters Sr. and his wife Elizabeth had three children two sons and a daughter, William was the eldest.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Opening statement

I have for many years been interested in the history of Oshkosh, Wisconsin and in particular the architect William Waters, of that city. It is my hope that this blog will serve as a clearinghouse for information about Mr. Waters as well as a sounding board for any opinions on subjects under consideration. I intend to add images of building and engage in discussion about same. Perhaps there will be persons as interested in this subject as I am.