Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oshkosh Churches, P. S.

This missive will be two posts in one, both dealing with Trinity Episcopal Church.  The first part should have appeared in the post " Oshkosh Flats, Real or Imagined."   Of all the churches covered in the preceding entries Trinity Episcopal had the most colorful construction history.  The church had long occupied the corner 
of Algoma and Light Streets and also owned the the lot behind the church where the the Women's Guild Hall now stands.  Shortly after the new church was finished, in February of 1891 the vestry announced its intention to build a row of flats on the property.  William Waters drew up plans which called for four brick buildings of three floors each.  Each floors' flat would have a parlor, dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms and closets.  The monthly rent for the first floor was to be $8, the second $12 and the top floor for $10 thus making for a tidy income.  A fifth building with a hall for church event and rental space above was also part of the scheme.  The Oshkosh newspapers were enthusiastic supporters of the building project, citing the need for that style of housing and the general up building of the city.  However by May the project was abandoned and there was no reason given. Instead Mr. Waters was asked to plan a rectory for the site.  He drew a modified Queen Anne Style, 50' by 50' fronting on Light Street with verandas on the front and north sides of the house.  In early June there was another development; Capt Bowen offered to sell his house on Church St. for use as the rectory.  It was tempting offer and was accepted by the vestry in mid July.  In 1917 the Women's Guild Hall was built on the lot.  

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Trinity Episcopal Church is its uncanny resemblance to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lynchburg Virginia. St. Paul's was designed by prominent Philadelphia architect 
Frank Miles Day.  Architect Day was fourteen years the junior of Mr. Waters and received his early education at home, taught by his father.  In 1883 he graduated from the Towne School of the University of Pennsylvania and then went on to study in England, followed by apprenticeships under two architects.  He distinguished himself in 1885 by winning a prize from the Architectural Association of London.  In 1887 Mr. Day opened his own office in Philadelphia and soon became a sought after architect known for his Ivy League academic buildings and county homes.  Mr. Day was the architect of the Carnegie endowed Madison Public Library on Williamson St.built in 1904; now the Grieg Club. 

The St. Paul commission would have come early in Mr. Day's career for the decision to build the new church wasn't made until 1887 with the edifice being completed in 1895 and the steeple in 1906.  What connection if any Frank Miles Day had to William Waters is unclear.  Mr. Waters was a well established regional architect by the time Day commenced to practice his craft and Waters may have gained Day's notice.  Perhaps members of St. Paul's congregation had seen the exquisite Oshkosh church and asked that it serve as a model for their new structure, both are Episcopal churches.  It is impossible to say what accounts for the similarities but it's undeniable 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Oshkosh Churches, Part Three

In part one of the Churches of Oshkosh  I stated that Mr. Waters designed twelve and one half churches in that city.  That half church was his first religious building of the twentieth century and was more school than church; it was an addition to the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Church and Division Streets.  The  original structure built in 1893 was designed by W.A. Holbrook an architect who started out in Oshkosh but moved to Milwaukee and partnered with E. T. Mix.   The congregation was growing and by mid May of 1906 a committee announced it's intention to build an addition to hold Sunday school rooms.  William Waters was hired to provide a suitably plan.  The process moved rapidly; bids were accepted and the job was let to J. T. Raycraft and C. R. Meyer who had teamed up for the task.  Architect Waters was careful in his design and material selection in order to produce an addition that was harmonious with the rest of the building.  The addition measured thirty seven feet on Church Street and one hundred fifteen feet on the adjacent wall, holding twenty four class rooms and a kindergarten room.  In the recent past alterations were made but deftly handled  as to be sympathetic with the extant structure. 
The next two churches Waters designed in Oshkosh have an English appearance to them.  Both have short steeples when compared to his churches of the 1870's with their soaring spires.  The walls and towers are buttressed as of old, with Tudor or Gothic arched openings.  In 1908 the First Congregational Church once again sought the services of Waters for the plans of a new church.  The building planned by him in 1873 was only thirty five years old but the congregation needed more space.  As early as July of 1899 there were discussions of a new church or an addition.  Mr. Waters had even drawn plans for such an addition but nothing came of it.  The church seemed ready to proceed in 1908, the thought being to build a new church to the west and remodel the old as social hall and Sunday school,  In July of 1909 a description of the proposed edifice as drawn by Mr. Waters was published.  The building was said to be Gothic in style; 72' x 115' and connected to the old structure by two cloisters, front and back.  The next month saw the notice for sealed bids on the foundation work, with the job going to C. R. Meyer & Sons.  There was yet another notice posted in May of 1910 for the construction of the "superstructure".  Once again C. R. Meyer got the job and the building moved a pace.  By September of 1911 the interior work was nearly finished with the work being done by Mr. Raycraft.  The building remains much as it was with minor alterations; the porte cochere was removed from the west side of the church and the clock no longer grace the steeple.  In the 1960's the old church was razed and replaced by a new hall with class rooms and offices.      
St. John Evangelical Lutheran congregation was formed in September of 1907.  Needing a place to worship a house was purchased at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Union Street, in 1908 and re-purposed as a chapel.  By 1913 the congregants were ready for a more permanent home and asked William Waters to devise a plan for a new church to be located on the corner of North Main St. and Lincoln Avenue.  Ground was broken in April of 1914, followed in June by the laying of the corner stone.  The first service was held in the basement in December of that year. Work continued on the church for nearly another year, culminating with the dedication on Thanksgiving Day, 1915.     
Mr. Waters employed a building material he was familiar with, rough hewn lime stone.  The design showed an asymmetrical front elevation with a spire less steeple at the right.  The nave had a gabled roof and a large Gothic arched window occupied the front wall, below there was a three arched opening behind which were the front doors.  The design included buttresses at the corners of the nave and steeple as well as between each window along the side walls.  A modern hall and Sunday school stand adjacent to the church which remains as it was constructed.