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.