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

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.