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.