Saturday, December 19, 2015

State Normal School at River Falls

Not long after Wisconsin became a state its' legislature enacted laws providing for the establishment of state schools.  The University of Wisconsin at Madison was inaugurated in 1849 as well as a school for the blind in Janesville and in 1852 a school for the deaf opened in Delavan.  The state of Wisconsin also founded Normal Schools or teacher colleges, throughout the state the forth one of which was built in River Falls in 1875.  River Falls was a small town in western Wisconsin just east of Minneapolis, St Paul.  The academe was successful and both the city and school thrived.  On a winter's night in 1897 the building burned almost entirely but the community pull together helping to set up class rooms in churches, lodge halls and other venues such that only a half day of class time was lost.   The Normal School Board of Regents took up the matter of rebuilding and other cities wished to move the school but the citizens of River Falls prevailed with the regents calling for architects to submit plans for a new building.  Dozens of proposals were received from architect in Milwaukee, Racine, Janesville, La Cross, Superior and Ashland but in the end Oshkosh architect William Waters’ plans was judged the best.
Mr. Waters paid a visit to River Falls in February of 1898 to view the site and assess what might be salvaged.  A week later a notice for contractor to submit bids was published with Bonnett, Michele and Company of Milwaukee winning the contract.  But April construction was well under way and the new school finished by September in time for the fall term.  For many years there was but one building on campus but in 1914 North Hall was built.  The building designed by Waters became known as South Hall and by the 1970’s had become run down to the point that there was serious talk of razing the structure and building anew.  An effort to save the building was launched and in 1976 a newly refurbished South Hall was added to The National Register of Historic Places.    


Monday, December 7, 2015

Wisconsin Goes to the Fair

Exposition Universelle de 1889, held in Paris was a great success and showed the world the greatness of France. Many countries exhibited in Paris, promoting there goods and manufacturing prowess, the United States mounted a halfhearted effort, coming off as unsophisticated hicks unready to be a world power. It was therefore decided that the United States would host a World's Fair in 1893, honoring the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the new world by Christopher Columbus but what city would host this gala face saving event? New York, Washington DC, Chicago and St. Louis all vied for the privilege of being the venue for the big show and the matter was to be resolved by the US House of Representatives. Chicago's city counsel formed a committee of powerful citizens to insure the city would prevail and it did. Architects Daniel Burnham and John W. Root were put in charge of bringing the whole thing together using Root's creative genius and Burnham's organizational skills. Burnham assembled a fraternity of the county's best architects such as, George Post, Henry Van Brunt, Charles McKim and enlisted Frederick Law Olmsted to transform the marshy Jackson Park into a suitable fair grounds. All the states and territories were to have a presence at the fair in the form of a pavilion.

By July of 1891 the state of Wisconsin had appointed a board of managers to oversee all matter concerning the state's presents at the fair. The board specified that the building was to be constructed entirely of materials from Wisconsin, have no less 10,000 square feet of floor space at a coast exceed $30,000 and plans were to be submitted by September 15,1891. The winning architect would receive a prize of $300 and there was to be a second prize of $200. There were four competing plans from; Messrs. Ferry and Clas, Mr. Holbrook, Mr. Douglas all of Milwaukee and William Waters of Oshkosh. The board announced their decision on October 21, 1891, naming Mr. Waters as the winner and James Douglas as taking second prize. On February 21, 1892 a notice for bids for contractors was placed in the Oshkosh Times with announcement coming in early April that Houle Bros. of Oshkosh would build the structure. And so it was that by the opening of the fair, Wisconsin had a fine building and exhibition hall. Only after the fair was open a few months did the bickering start. The Milwaukee Journal praised the hall, claiming it to have won first prize and took the Milwaukee Sentinel to task for making no mention of it. The Sentinel replied that several state buildings received awards but all where of the same degree with no first place being recognized. As final accounts were taken several sources noted that the Wisconsin State Building was singled
out as architecturally unique, well built and commodious for the visitors.  

Sunday, November 29, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Eight

On June 6, 1902 the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern reported under the head line “New Power House”, the intention of the Oshkosh Electric Light and Power Company to build a new power plant. The report stated B.E. Sunney of the General Electric Company was in town and with member of the Oshkosh electric company were going over rough sketches of the new building, as prepared by architect William Waters.  The meeting was to make suggestion and changes before the plans for the new fireproof brick plant were drafted.  Notice of the letting of bids for contracts was published in mid-July of that year and by October came the announcement that Meyer, Domke and J. T. Raycraft had been awarded the contracts for the building’s construction.  The new plant was to be located on Marion Street on the site of the old plant, adjacent to the Cook and Brown brick yard.  A brisk construction schedule was planned with occupancy to occur by January 15, 1903. There were to be two parts to the building, the main building measuring 133’ x 79’ and 18’ at the eaves was to house the office, bath and toilet rooms, shop and dynamo room.  There were tile floors and a steep angle state roof.  The boiler room was located in a portion 72’ x 45’ with the ceiling 36’ above the floor.  Eight foot high arched topped window on all sides of the building allowed for much natural light and the front entrance was like that of the Winnebago Traction company’s car barn and power house.    
The electric power company was formed in 1884 with exclusive rights to electrically light the city streets.  A power house was built in 1885 and by 1902 needed to be upgraded, the fact that the company had gone into receivership in the autumn of 1901 seemed to make no difference.  In 1904 a Boston man named W. H. Whitney foreclosed on the business and continued to operate it, merging with Oshkosh Gas Light in 1907.  Cook and Brown Lime Company bought the building in 1920 and used it for a number of proposes including a showroom for a large kitchen appliances.  The building was razed in the late 1960’s to make way for the construction of Park Plaza, a shopping mall.   

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oshkosh Houses, 1877

It was in March of 2015 that I posted an article about Joshua Dalton's residence. I was sure the house was the work of Mr. Waters but was unsure of construction date. A reader of this blog told me of a newspaper write up from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of December 14, 1877 which described the past season construction activity in Oshkosh and mentions the Dalton home. The article also reported that architect Waters drew plans for James G. Clark's Washington Street residence as well as the dwelling of attorney Henry Bailey on Otter Street.   I was unable to find an image of the Clark house but did to locate a picture of Mr. Bailey's place. The house, which no longer stands was very near the old Courthouse which would have been convenient for an attorney.  It was of Italianate Style, two stories high, measured 30' x 60', was built of wood and coast $2,500.  On the left of the front elevation was a flight of steps up to a small porch and front door. Above the porch and set back was a single window, to the right on both the first and second floors were sets of double windows. The roof was of a shallow pitch with extensive overhangs supported by brackets.  The building was razed in the early 1980's.

As for James G. Clark, a partner in a dry goods business, there are no images of his home.  There was no description of his house other than to say it was two stories with basement and was 35' x 65'. The house was reported to have central heat, hot and cold water and coast Mr. Clark $2,500. The residence was likely situated near the corner of Washington and Mount Vernon Streets where the Masonic Temple now stands but any traces of the dwelling have since vanished. 

Monday, October 19, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Seven

The turn of the twentieth century also brought to Oshkosh the expansion of manufacturing facilities.
 In 1898 Diamond Match was considering building a large factory on High Street and in 1902 The Oshkosh Logging Tool Company announced intentions to building a large new plant just south of the river adjacent to Main Street.  The tool company was started by Elmer Leach who had been employed as secretary for the A. Sanford Logging Tool Company of Oshkosh, which had been around since 1853.  Early in 1887 Mr. Leach built a small factory on Pearl Street and commenced business as The Oshkosh Logging Tool Company and by 1906 Sanford Logging Tool merged with  Leach's firm to form Oshkosh Tool Manufacturing.
 The company's quality tools made them popular and accounted for the firm's rapid growth.  A capacious, modern factory was caller for and Mr. Leach enlisted the services of architect William Water to draw the plans. The company's intention to build was first reported in September of 1902 along with the location of the parcel of land. Early in 1903 came reports of  the several buildings which would comprise the new factory.  These early reports indicated that the largest building was to three stories high next to the river but not front on Main Street.  By July of that year work was started with a four story edifice just south of the Main Street bridge.  The logging industry reached it's zenith at about this time, the last spring log run down the Wolf River took place in 1911.  The Leach Company saw that changes were coming and in 1932 began to manufacture garbage trucks.  By the early 1960's the company had out grown the aging building on the river and so built a new plant north of the city, the old factory was demolished in 1966.  The company was purchased by another firm has long since moved all production to Canada.    

Saturday, October 3, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Seven

At the turn of the twentieth century there were many dry goods stores in Oshkosh.  One such retailer was Seymour Heymann, proprietor S. Heymann and Company.  In 1903 Mr Heymann announced a plan that would greatly enlarge his store by entering into a long term lease for several properties on Main Street and building an addition.  That same year his competitor, the Plummer Company disclosed that it's store would undergo a massive make over and a forth floor would be added. The two stores were next to each other and the new Plummer building was truly grand.  Not long after completion, early in 1904 the place caught fire and was a total loss.  A large four story replacement, grander than the first soon took it's place.  Improvement were made to the Heymann store but must have seemed paltry in comparison to the large attractive building next door.  Five years later there came another announcement, the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of April 11, 1908 under the head line “New Store of an Oshkosh Dry Goods House.” displayed a drawing of a large new building for the S. Heymann and Co.

Two buildings on Main Street were to be remodeled in to the largest department store north of Milwaukee.  The plans for the job were prepared by architect William Waters and work was to commence on the first of May.  The remodeled store was to occupy the space between the Plummer Company and the Commercial Bank, extending from Main Street to Division Street. Three floor and the basement were to be devoted to merchandise and the forth floor would be storage of reserve stock.  
Mr. Heymann was born in Germany and came to the United States at age twenty, settling first in Michigan then Indiana before coming to Wisconsin.  For a number of years Heymann peddled his merchandise throughout the Fox river valley, finally in the 1880's he was able to open a store in Oshkosh.  He was a savvy  businessman, who's motto was "Profits are made by turnover, not left overs."  Heymann's business flourished and in 1923 he retired, selling the store to Henderson and Hoyt who had purchased the Plummer Company some years earlier.  Henderson - Hoyt moved to the larger store and sold the Plummer building to W. T. Grant.  In 1945 Henderson - Hoyt was sold to the Boston Store of Milwaukee.  Sometime in the late 1950's Boston Store sold the Oshkosh store to Johnson Hills and after W. T. Grant went out of business the company purchased the building, combining the two and remodeling the facade and making one large department store.  The building has long since ceased to be used for retail. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Six

 It has been stated in this blog on other occasions that by the turn of the twentieth century Oshkosh was well established as a center of commerce and population and working to cast off vestiges of the past century. Many of the Italianate or Second Empire style homes were replaced by more fashionable trends in architecture and commercial buildings experienced changes in appearance as well. One such business was S. M. Hay Hardware, located at the corner of Pearl and Main Streets. The company had occupied the corner since 1848 and put up a new building after the fire of 1875 which was most likely the work of William Waters in as much as Mr. Waters was the architect of Mr. Hay's 1873 residence built on Algoma Blvd.
By 1903 Hay Hardware, a purveyor of stoves and other large goods wanted a better display space. The old building had three arched opening along the front on the first floor which were not conducive to product display and the company decided the remodel the building. An article in The Daily Northwestern of May 26, 1903 there was a detailed description of what was to be done; the front of the building was to be removed. The three arched openings which hindered the proper display of merchandise were to be replaced by large plate glass windows. An attractive entrance with display windows was to be add to the Division St. side of the building. The missive further states that the plans were drawn by a local architect, it was not until August 8 in another release that Mr. Waters was named as the planner.  
What emerged after the remodeling was a three story red brick building with large display window on the first floor and oversize widows on the upper floors. Classical details such as a cornice with dentils adorned the top of the structure. The first floor was occupied by the hardware company and the second and third floors were offices. After the Hay Company closed other retailers took over the first floor. The building was razed in the 1960's.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Twentieth Century Club

The story of the Twentieth Century Club’s meeting place is long and convoluted, its start with the home of Joel Mead, a lumberman and partner in the Mead and Ripley Company. Mr. Mead built his Italianate house circa 1860 on the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and High Street, his partner Sylvanus Ripley built his house around the corner on Algoma Blvd. In 1900 the heirs of Joel Mead either sold or bequeathed the house to The Ladies Benevolent Society. The group had been around for many years and maintained the Home for the Friendless a home for elderly and indigent old women. The home was a small old house located on Main Street and it was the hope of some the club members to convert the Mead place into the groups’ headquarters and home for the friendless. The leaders of the society even went so far as to hier William Waters to draw plans for an eight room addition and other improvements. The next monthly meeting was poorly attended but the society voted any way to move ahead with the renovation plan. The next week there was yet another meeting where it was reviled that a $10,000 bequest from the estate of the Senator Sawyer was only good if a new building were to be constructed. The senator’s son Edger assured the ladies that an endowment of $10.000 would be set aside should the society ever decide to build a new home. A few days later those members against the plan made their opposition known.

So great was the argument stated that Ladies Benevolent Society abandoned plan to renovation the Mead House and sold it to the Twentieth Century Association for $5,000. The Twentieth Century Association was formed in 1898 to promote music and art in the community. Their plan was to renovate the house, making it into a modern club house to be used by various clubs. By April of 1901 the firm of William Waters & Son had drawn plans and bids were let for the remodeling which was expected to cost $10.000.  The club house was completed by mid October of 1901 with the first use coming on the last day of that month.  The club sold the building in 1968 and has since been converted to student housing.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Winnebago Gun Club

In March of 1899 the Winnebago Gun Club, at its' regular meeting decided to build a club house. Architect William Waters was there and presented plans for a utilitarian building to accommodated the club's needs. The Winnebago Gun Club was organized by shooter to improve and promote the sport of marksmanship. In the summer of 1899 the club was to have the second annual shooting tournament to be held at the Heisinger Farm across from Riverside cemetery and a suitable building was needed. The plan called for a structure one story high, 16' x 32' with the front portion devoted to a large open veranda. The enclosed portion of the building was to have lockers and gun racks, all for the expenditure of $200. The contract for construction went to Fluor Brothers and the club house was to be finished in two weeks.   

By early July of that summer everything was ready for the big tournament. The new club house was finished and painted and a chimney was added for the preparation of lunch. By all accounts the building was perfect for club's needs. The tournament that summer was also a great success, the club made enough money to erase all its' debts. It's unclear what became of the Winnebago Gun Club and it's diminutive club house. The farmland was developed as a neighborhood and the Winnebago Gun Club ceased to be.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Could be the Union Club.

I have in my collection a rendering of what appears to be a club house.  It isn't labeled in any way except to say it came from the office of Wm. Waters and Son.  That is significant as it dates the drawing to 1900.  For many years I've tried to identify the building, asking groups in Fond du Lac, Appleton and Green Bay if it was in their city.  No one could recognize it.  I concluded the place was never built.  That still left unanswered the question “What was it?”   Recently I decided to revisit my quest to ascertain the identity of the building and turned to the book “A Compilation of Articles Pertaining to the Works of William Waters”   There in the section about Oshkosh Societies, Clubs and Organizations were several newspapers write-ups about the Union Club.  This organization was brought about with the merger of the Crescent Club and Business Man Club and was housed on the second floor of the building on the south east corner of Main Street and Washington Ave. The space had proven to be inadequate and unattractive. 
The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of February 5, 1901 reported on the proceeding of the annual meeting of the Union Club and highlighted the discussion of a club house.  There had been some talk of building some years earlier but nothing came of it.  There seemed to be renewed enthusiasm for the project and William Waters and his son were in attendance to present their plans for a suitable club house.  The plan called for a building of stone and pressed brick at a cost of $15,000 but no location was reviled for the proposed structure.   Over the next few weeks more articles appeared in the press and seem to urge the Union Club and the Elks to build a club house that would be an ornament to the city especially given the wealthy members of the clubs.  Again nothing came of this attempt to construct a club house and the Union Club eventually disbanded.  I can not say for a certainty the rendering here is the proposed Union Club, but it could be.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

St. Paul's, Neenah

At the turn of the twentieth century there were five Lutheran Churches in Neenah and not one of them worshiped in english.   By 1912 a group of english speaking lutherans decided to form their own congration.  The church rented a small chapel on Bond Street from The Norwegian Lutherans but it wasn't long before the group realized the need for a bigger house of worship.  In the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of October 3,1914, under the headline; "A PROPOSED TWIN CITY CHRUCH." there appeared a rendering of a beautiful new edifice.  The accompanying article told of the congregations need and described the new building designed by William Water of Oshkosh.


In March of 1915 there were a series of notices in the Oshkosh press concerning the letting of bids for the construction of the new church, the paper didn't mention who got the job.  St. Paul's was similar to other churches that Waters design during the early decades of the twentieth century, gone were the scoring steeples of the mid 1800's.  Instead architect Waters employed an English County church style as seen in Oshkosh's First Congregational Church of 1910 and St. John's of 1914(See Oshkosh Churches Part Three, 61,2012.  St. Paul's cornerstone was placed on July 12,1915 and the building served as designed until 1956.  It was in that year a massive remodeling project was undertaken; both ends of the church were removed and rebuilt such that the congregation would face east instead of west, and the entrance was moved from N. Commercial Street to the W. North Water Street side of the church.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Appleton Churches

I've posted entries on all Mr. Waters' Oshkosh churches and a surprise in Waupaca, it seems as good a time as any to report on churches in other cities.  Mr. Waters' religious works outside of Oshkosh were confined to Waupaca,  Neenah and Appleton.  The architect designed two houses of worship in Appleton, namely St. Joseph Catholic and The Methodist Episcopal Church.  Both commissions came at about the same time too.
St. Joseph Roman Catholic Church was formed 1867 when the growing number of German Katholishers wished to have their own parish.  The group received permission from the bishop to start a congregation and so purchased the old Third Ward School House for $150, moved it to Elm Street and turned it into a church.  By 1870 a building committee was assembled to consider plans for a building. Young architect William Waters had made a reputation with two important Wisconsin State jobs; the architect of the new Oshkosh Normal School and superintendent of construction of the Northern State Hospital for the Insane and it was his plan selected by the committee. Construction began in 1871 and cost $21,140 to build.  The church was dedicated on the first Sunday of November 1872. Over the years there were some remodeling projects, a major one in 1889 with the addition of two pillars and expansion of the sanctuary.  Later the front entrance was changed but what had remained constant was the steeple.  Many churches would for maintenance reasons remove the towering spires for something easier to re-roof.

The Methodist Church in Appleton was there with the founding of Lawrence University and the 
Methodists worshiped in college buildings until 1854 when a church was built across the street from the main college building.  On the morning of March 9, 1872, just before service the church burned down, holy smoke!  The congregation was  eager to rebuild, a lot on the corner of Lawrence and Morrison was acquired and William Waters was engaged as architect and the corner stone for a new church was laid in October of that same year.   That building served the congregation for more fifty years but was replaced in 1925.  The old church was sold to The Knights of Pythias and remodeled to look more like a castle and serve as their meeting hall,late the building was turned to retail use.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Waupaca Surprise

The subject of my last post, the Plymouth Congregational Church of Oshkosh was unusual yet familiar to me.  There was something about the bell tower that resonated with me, as if I'd seen it somewhere else in a different context.  I decided to check the on line reproduction of “Illustrated Waupaca” a book published in 1888.  The original book had no photographs but instead drawings based on photographs.  There was a fine drawing of the Methodist Episcopal Church with a steeple identical to that of the Plymouth Church in Oshkosh. It also bore a resemblance to Oshkosh's 1873 First Congregational church.  I contacted the Waupaca Historical Society and received friendly and informative response from the groups' president.  He sent a photo for the Methodist Church with a truncated steeple and a newspaper article as to how it got that way.    
The article was dated February 20, 1875 told of a thunder storm and a bolt of lightening which struck the 110' spire, destroying it but it seems unlikely that a thunder storm of such ferocity would occur in the winter.  Further investigation was needed so I contacted the church and the pastor sent a copy of the church history.  According to the church history, in 1875 pastor Rev. Moses Alley advocated for a new church in the Gothic style.  A building committee was formed with R. N. Roberts, A. Gordon, Winfield Scott and William West, with Mr. West being credited with raising money, picking committees and drawing plans.  The claim that Mr. West drew plans notwithstanding I believe William Waters to have been the architect of the church.  As for lightening struck steeple there were a few inconsistencies between the newspaper article and the church history.   The church history places the event in 1890 which is more credible for the 1888 “Illustrated Waupaca” pictured the church with a tall steeple, after the mishap the bell tower was considerably abbreviated.  The building served the congregation until 1961 when it was replaced.              
P. S. Just for fun I went, via Google to William Waters' home town of Franklin in Delaware County New York.  There was St. Paul Episcopal Church with a steeple looking much like that of the churches in Waupaca and Oshkosh.  The top of the tower also resembles that of Appleton's 1873 First Methodist Church.   St. Paul's church, built 1865 was the work of Richard Upjohn a prominent eastern architect. Mr. Waters may have been in Franklin at that time and may well have been influenced by what he saw.  

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Another Oshkosh Church

Some time ago I did a series of posts on William Waters' Oshkosh churches and I thought I'd covered all of them. That was not the case, for not long ago while perusing the photos on Oshkosh Past perfect, I saw a church which was unfamiliar to me. The image was identified as the Plymouth Congregational Church, located on the corner of Church and Franklin Streets. I studied the image carefully, surly it must have been designed by William Waters I thought.

 The building was a wooden frame structure and rather unusual with what appeared to be large bays on the side walls. The steeple featured fancy woodwork reminiscent of Stick Style and a roof very much like that of St. Joseph in Appleton. After a short time it occurred to me I'd seen a sketch of the church among the drawing in “Willie's Book” and I search it out. There it was, a front elevation and floor plan which explained the large bays on the side walls.

Further research of church histories reveled a contradiction as to when the building was constructed. All the accounts agree the original church was built 1856 but differ as to weather this church, its' replacement was put up in 1868 or in 1876. Mr. Waters was in Oshkosh by 1868 and this could have been a very early job. The drawing collected by the architects' son and affixed to a discarded magazine, "Willie's Book", date from the mid 1870's which makes the 1876 date likely.  I believe the 1876 date to be more accurate.  The small wooden church served until 1894 when it was replaced by a large red brick house of worship designed by prominent Minneapolis architect Warren Howard Hays.   

Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Five

Many new commercial structures were erected in Oshkosh in the last decades of the nineteenth century. One, the Uhlien Block was of particular grace and beauty with a engaging history.  The first mention of the building was made in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of March 16, 1886 which tells of the purchase by Wm. Dichmann form Mr. Forbes of property at the corner of Washington and Shonaon or State Street as it was later known.  Mr. Dichmann paid $5,000 for the land and intended to put up a handsome building of two or three stories with several stores the first floor.  A few days later it was reported that Mr. Forbes wanted to back out of the deal but the contract was upheld.  Not long after that Mr. Dichmann was denying rumors that the purchase was made on behalf of the Schlitz Brewing Company but was made with an interested friend.  He also denied a claim by a temperance group that the building would house a saloon.
 The project seemed to disappear until late October of 1889 when it was reviled that a hotel might be erected on the spot with Charles Josslyn as landlord.  Architect Waters had drawn plans which were to be approved by Mr. Uhlien of Milwaukee with the hope that hotel could be completed soon after the new government building was finished.  Another year past before there was word that Mr. Dichmann had just returned from Milwaukee and a meeting with Mr. Uhlien where it was decided to erect a building of three or four stories.  Just two days later the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of January 29, 1891 ran a headline, “ Five or Six Stories High.  A magnificent structure to be erected on Washington and State.”  The article went on to talk about Mr. Waters estimating stone block and that it was to be built of red pressed brick.  It was also said the Crescent Lodge of the Knight of Honor would have apartments of the upper floors.  On April 13, 1891 final plans were announced.  The Crescent Club opted to stay where they were which precluded the need for more than two floors.  It was to have 100' frontage on Washington Street and a large dome at the northeast corner. 


Four businesses could occupy the first floor and the second story would be office space.  The building was a great success, occupied by tenants such Medberry and Bemis and Schlitz Hall. The building at last became to Oshkosh offices of Wisconsin Public Service and was remodeled in the 1950’s.  The tower and dome were removed and replaced by polished red granite.   
In the Oshkosh Times of April 9, 1895 there appeared a notice the sealed bids for the construction of a store for J. E. Kennedy and Sons.  Plans could be viewed at the office of architect William Waters.  By mid-June of the year the first floor was nearly finished and would rise two more with cold store apartments.  Kennedy and Sons were wholesale grocers and this new building was the grandest for that purpose in the city.  The building was on High Street, just east of the Soo line tracks.  It was made of red press brick with a limestone foundation and limestone lintels and trim.  Three arches dominated the front elevation above which was a sill of stone and three sets of windows just below a cornice and parapet.  The store served other businesses as well, notably Bemis Hooper Hays, also a wholesale grocer.   In the 1960’s it was a marine supply store and was demolished to make way for a parking ramp.          
The Oshkosh newspapers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries often ignored the news from south of the river.  The Daily Northwestern of 2/4/1893 did however report plans to build a fine hall on Kansas and Ninth streets, undertaken by Joesph Stringham and designed by William Waters.   The description of the building to be called Columbine Hall, said it was to front 75 feet on Kansas Street and 90 feet on Ninth Street with marble pillars flanking the front door and three commercial spaces on the ground floor.   The hall on the second floor was to be 68 x 70 feet with a balcony and four foot high stage measuring 16 x 40 feet. The article also mentions that the land had been used as a garden for many years by Mr. Stringham and although rather low it would fine location for the hall.
1893 was the 400th anniversary of the discovery of the New World by Columbus and America celebrated in many ways, the World's Columbine Exposition, aka the Chicago’s World's Fair was one manifestation, Oshkosh was to get a new opera house on the south side.  The problem was that the fine building as described in the newspaper was not what was built.  The Columbine Hall was built on the west side of what now South Main Street, about half way between 9th and 10th  Streets.  The newspapers never mention the change of plans which were altered probably because the southeast corner where it was to be erected was too low and wet to support a large, heavy building.  The press also never offered a description of the amended plan.  The structure which was put up was just as grand as the first concept with three stores on the first floor and an arched entrance to second floor hall to the far left.  The size of the hall and stage are unknown for the building was turned to other uses after a short time.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

New London School

One of the earliest posts on this blog was “Small Schools” an exploration of of five school buildings built from 1891 through 1901, namely Menasha's Forth Ward School, Punhoqua School in Oshkosh, Dartford School in Green Lake, the Edgar Grade School, Edgar, Wisconsin and Winneconne's West Side School.  All the buildings were of a more diminutive scale, based on a similar floor plan and exterior features.   About a year ago I came across an old postcard of the Fifth Ward and Waupaca County Teacher's Training School in New London, Wisconsin and  there was something very familiar about the building.  The fenestration, arched entrance and bell cast hipped roof looked much like the 1900 grade school in Edgar Wisconsin.  I did as much online research as I could but found no information about the building.  In my frustration I turned to the director of the New London Public Museum, Christine Cross.  I sent her images of both the schools in Edgar and the 5th Ward School, asking her and her husband, archivist at the Oshkosh Public Museum, to compare the two.  Their conclusion was, given arraignment of the window, arched entry and roof shape that the buildings were by the same architect.  Ms. Cross went even further by locating an article in the New London Republican of 7/24/1907 crediting William Waters with the design and specifications for the new school building.    
The school was known as the Fifth Ward School or North Division School and was later renamed McKinley School.  It also served as the Waupaca County Teacher Training School.  As with the other schools of this pattern, there was central pavilion with an arched entrance flanked by windows.  Above the front door was a set of double windows with two windows on either side, all the window had jack arch lintels.  At the top of the wall, above the roof line was a dormer with a single arched window with an elongated keystone.  Wings on either side of the the central pavilion had nine windows, three on the basement level, three on the first floor and three on the second floor, along the sides were four window on each level.  At the back of the school was another wing, giving the structure a “T” shape.  There were windows on basement and upper floors as well as side doors protected by porches with shed roofs.  The school was built of  a cream colored brick and had a bell cast hip roof.  Chimneys on the back side flanked a bell tower that sat at the center of the roof ridge.     

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Four

Mr. Waters continued to get commissions for commercial structures and the Oshkosh business district extending well beyond Main Street. For blocks on either side of Main there were hotels, warehouses, train depots and offices.  Algoma Blvd. for one was lined with the buildings of fraternal organizations, churches, warehouses and an empty lot or two.  In 1889 Moses Hooper had William Waters draw plans for an office building to be built on the north side of Algoma just past the Beckwith House.  It was to be constructed of local limestone, two stories high with an ample basement. Attorney Hooper had hired Waters seven years earlier to plans his residence next to the Normal School further up Algoma Blvd. That building too was of limestone and stands to this day as does the Algoma Building.
Moses Hooper, a very successful lawyer was born in Massachusetts, studied law there and came west in 1857 settling in Neenah and later moved to Oshkosh.  He made his reputation dealing with water rights, was also Kimberly Clark's business attorney and his office occupied one of the many in the Algoma Building.  Just south of the Algoma Building, on Monument Square was another Waters' building. My research has not reviled for whom or what year it was built or the building's early occupants.  In a photograph from the 1920's an F. W. Woolworth sign hung above the door.  It was no doubt the back entrance to the store for at the time of the photo Woolworth's had a Main Street address.  
The building was of classic William Waters styling: constructed in the two store front template, of cream colored brick with limestone trim and lintels.  Above the second floor windows were two pseudo gables trimmed with limestone and each holding a set of small triplet windows.  The building was demolished many years ago.   Another Waters building was just on the other side of Main Street at number 11 Waugoo Avenue.  According to the state historical society the building was built in 1891 with an addition in 1894.  It's first tenants were the North Pacific Express Company and Eagle Portrait Company.  There was no information as to who commissioned the building.
Mr. Waters employed the two store front and central stairway arrangement that had proved so effective.  The building was built of cream colored brick with accents of dark brick.  Along the top of the building was a cornice of alternating stepped out courses, just below the cornice was some intricate brickwork.  A stack of three bricks was as long as one brick, using that ratio Waters created a basket weave effect by placing a dark brick between two cream colored and alternated them vertically and horizontally.  For many years the fancy brickwork was hidden under several coats of paint but was recently cleaned away.      

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Call to Action!

  A situation has developed in Oshkosh concerning a beautiful old house and the needs of a cultural institution.  The Paine Art Center, one of the cultural gems of the city wishes to build a parking lot on land just to the north of the art center.  The problem is the property is occupied by a 104 year old brick colonial style house. The Paine owns the house and has offered to sell it for one dollar to anyone who will move it.  I feel it is important that the Paine Art Center realize it's ambition to provide parking and access for the handicapped and disabled.  I also feel Oshkosh should not, if possible, sacrifice another elegant old home.  The technology exists to move the house.  The question is who would take up the challenge of such a daunting task and where would one move it to?   Why bother to save the house anyway?
The house is significant as it contributes to the architectural variety of the historic neighborhood.  It was designed by William Waters in 1911 for bank president Louis Schriber and is a classic example of Colonial Style architecture.  It would be a shame to allow the building to be razed as so many other  Oshkosh landmarks have been.  A lively debate has been joined on Facebook, with many people expressing concern.  I urge interested citizens to join together and search for a solution, after all this is the city that saved the Grand Opera House.                                                                                          

The past year, 2014 was not a good year for the dwindling number of Waters' building.  The old First National Bank of Menasha and Menasha Hotel were demolished and now the prospect looms that the Schriber residence would fall to the wrecking ball.  I do not live in Oshkosh but Oshkosh will always live in me, it is the city of my nativity and I'm proud to say so.  I will do all I can to help save this house but the concerned citizens of Oshkosh and the Paine Art Center need to work together. There can be no complacence or apathy on the part of those who would save the building.  The Paine Art Center must exercise patience restraint until a buyer is found and a plan put into place.  This house can stand for another one hundred years and more if a workable plan is conceived and executed.

P.S.  Good news, a plan to move the Schriber was announced on 9/27/15.  The building will be moved to a lot on the corner of Algoma and Arboretum some time early in 2016.




Monday, March 30, 2015

Joshua Dalton's Residence

I had often wondered about the early residential works of William Waters.  Published lists from biographies and newspaper articles tended to mention only the homes of the well-to-do, folks such as S. M. Hay and W. H. Doe and being prominent persons images of their dwelling were easy to find. But certainly Mr. Waters did more than homes for lumbermen and bankers.   A few weeks ago a Facebook friend and fellow Waters devotee posted several pictures of a house at 723 Frederick Street in Oshkosh.  In one image there can be seen a notice of condemnation attach to the front door.  The friend expressed fear that the house would soon be bulldozed.  He also said that he thought it may have been the work of architect Waters. I had noticed the house years ago but had never considered that Mr. Waters had designed it.
I went the pages of "Willie's Book" to look for clues and I was astonished by what I found; there were detail sketches of window frames, gable arches and a front elevation, the house was clearly the work of William Waters.  In the 1870's two of the most popular picturesque styles were Italianate and Carpenter Gothic, this house was of the latter.  Characteristically Gothic style houses would have board and batten siding and Gothic arch windows.  Mr. Waters had made his own interpretation of the style, with no Gothic aches and board and batten siding in the gables only.  The gables had segmented arches with trefoil and quatrefoil openings with elaborate fascia boards and finials on the roof peaks, the windows were surrounded by ornate frames.

The house was built for Joshua Dalton a house painter who worked with his father for many years but later opened a grocery store in Methodist Church block on the corner of Main and Merritt Streets. An article published in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of  December 14, 1877 give a list of the new house construction in the past season and there among them is Joshua Dalton's residence on Leaf Street.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

More Oshkosh Building, Part Three

There were so many building designed by William Waters all up and down Oshkosh's Main Street and streets such as Otter, Waugoo and Washington Avenue.  Some had a short time of service and others remain to this day.  There was a building built about 1881 which held three addresses; numbers 79, 81 and 83 Main Street.  M. Lambert Co. occupied #79, Weber Bros #81 and Struass and Jandorf was at # 83.  There were also living quarter on the second floor.  Elements of the building bore a resemblance to the Commercial National Back in Appleton.  The Weber Block was constructed of cream colored brick and accents of dark brick with limestone lintels and springers.  In 1904 the New German American Bank built a fine new edifice and more than half of the Weber Bros. Block was removed and the rest remodeled. That same year the Plummer Company, a four story dry good store next door was destroyed by fire along with the newly rebuilt Weber store and parts of the new bank.   
Other streets off of Main Street also had fine commercial buildings.  The intersection of State and Otter Streets was once truly impressive; there was City Hall the Northwestern Building and in 1905 the Greenlaw-Thomas, a firm that did abstracts of titles built a building of grace and buauty.
The building was of a cream colored brick, two stories high with a chamfered corner which held the front door.  Above the second floor was expanse of window pane brickwork and towering pediments at the chamfered corner and above an entrance to the second floor on Otter Street. Also along the Otter Street side was a retail space.  As time went on the pediments were removed and the structure was given a coat of gray paint.  It fell to the wrecking ball in the 1980's
On Washington Avenue there was a line of stores which were built after the great fire of 1875.  There were four store fronts and two doors to the upper floor.  The building may have been designed as two structures for different client as there are slight detail differences with the second store windows. The
building was built of cream colored brick with pilasters at the center and either end of the upper level and arched lintels of brick with limestone keystones.  
Along the top of the building was an intricate brickwork cornice which ran the length of the building. The accompanying sketch was one gathered the architect's son Willie, from his father's office and place in an old magazine.  Mr. Waters also used such elaborate brickwork on other building erected after the 1875 fire.    
There are more posts to come on the many commercial building of William Waters.  I've yet to touch upon all of them in Oshkosh much less those in Neenah, Appleton, Waupaca and Green Bay.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Pleasant Surprise !

One research source I've come to rely upon is the Wisconsin State Historical Society.  The society has a search engine, where by one may view their vast collection of images.  Many of the pictures are take from building surveys done in the late 1980's by many cites, Oshkosh being one of them.  One day I was perusing the buildings of Oshkosh and was captivated by an image of an old house.  The picture could well have passed for a prize winning photograph; high contrast black and white and excellent composition moving from the upper left to to lower right.  I looked over the picture closely, feeling there was something familiar about the building.  Perhaps it was because I had driven past the place years ago.   

The address given for the house was 2175 W. 4th Street but it was obviously in a rural setting, unlike any part of 4th Street I could recall.  Next I check the Oshkosh Public Library's address number conversion chart which show that there never was a 2175 W. 4th Avenue.  Where was this place?, I thought to myself.  I then check the city assessors office web site and the address, 2175 Witzle Ave. and got the name of the Oakhaven Church.  I went to the church's web site which featured a slide show, one image of which was the barn that is now the church and the old house in the distance.  
I was convinced the house was a Waters job and that I'd seen it somewhere before.  I decided to revisit "Willie's Book", a collection of drawing gather by a young William Waters Jr. and pasted to the leaves of an old agricultural journal.  There it was!, with a plan view and detail of the porch posts.  In the photograph the porches have been removed but some pieces and shadows remained as witness to their existence.  So whose house was it?  An old atlas of Winnebago county revealed that the land belonged to Rodrick McKenzie.  His biography states that McKenzie was a long time resident of Oshkosh and ran a feed and seed store located on Washington Street between Mt.Vernon and Broad Street.  Further it said McKenzie retired to his farm in 1874 where lived until his passing in 1886, by which time his nephew William McKenzie immigrated from Scotland and ran the farm.  The drawings in "Willie Book" date from the early 1870's and I would recon the McKenzie house to have been built in 1872 or 1873.        

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Two

The lower end of Main St in Oshkosh had always been a hub of activity and commerce of all kinds. At first it was a ferry crossing and Main St. was known as Ferry St.  Later a bridge was built along with a steamboat dock.  The Revere House, a large, fine hotel was adjacent to the river and other brick building were soon erected such that by the early 1870's only a few frame structures remained.  
One of the most interesting buildings at that end of the street was the one erected by C. S. Weston, pictured here with the Phoenix firehouse.  There is no written proof that William Waters drew the plans for the Weston building, but when compared the the Phoenix firehouse, a building known to have been drawn by Waters, it's obvious they are by the same hand.  Another tell tail sign is the Weston building's layout; two store fronts separated by a stairway to the second floor .  On the upper floor there are two sets of triplet window with a small window between them, Mr. Water used this template in many of his commercial structures.
Just next to the Weston building stood Weisbrod's Hall, built in 1873 for Rudolph Weisbrod a furniture maker and undertaker.  Although there is no proof that Mr. Waters drew the plans for this structure, it may well have been his work as he did other projects for the Weisbrod family.  In 1884 Mr. Weisbrod remodeled the building, changing it to a saloon and hall.  Weisbrod sold the building in 1891 to Herman Teichgraber and it was remodeled once again and reopened as the Alhambra saloon. It is this remodeling shown here and is doubtless the work of architect Waters.  Red pressed brick, terracotta panels as well as a scrolled sill below the second floor windows were all Waters hallmarks. 
There once stood a house on southwest corner of Main St and Marion St. the erstwhile home of O. B. Reed.  The old frame building was torn down in 1885 and the cellar became a frog breeding pond and eye sore.  Henry Borman purchased the property in 1890 and in the spring of that year began construction of a Waters designed building.  An Oshkosh Daily Northwestern article of April 30. 1890 states that the brick building was to be three stories high and measure 20 by 100 feet and cost $8,000.  What was erected was a two story building of red pressed brick with limestone and terracotta accents with a chamfered corner entrance, Mr. Borman resided on the second floor.  All the of the buildings in the first block of Main Street were demolished in the late 1970's.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

More Oshkosh Building, Part One

There were a great many building along Oshkosh's North Main Street designed by Mr. William Waters.  On the west side of Main Street from Algoma to Church Avenue were structure I believe to be the work of Waters, but have no proof of his authorship.  The fire of 1874 burned the area north of Washington Avenue and to the east for many blocks.  The aftermath of the conflagration did not receive the same kind of press coverage as the fire of the following year.  Photographs from 1887 show that portion of Main Street to have been lined with large, fine retail buildings.  It was these images I relied upon for much of my research.  
One building which was outstanding for beauty and presents was built in 1883 for Webb and Brooks Hardware, dealers in stoves for heating and cooking.  It was constructed of red pressed brick, two stories high.  The six windows of the second floor had Gothic arches with segmented lintel of brick and limestone.  The two windows at the center were slightly taller than the others and above them was limestone plaque bearing the date and owner's name. There were other limestone adornments on the facade which was capped an almost steeple like parapet with two openings that matched the windows below.  The building stood about mid block, where the Time Cinema is now.  There well be some vestiges of the old building still there.         
Down the street was another building likely from the drawing board of Mr. Waters.  It is still there at, 415 North Main Street, sans the cornice and pediment from 1874.  There were a few old photographs from which one might ascertain the building original appearance but awnings and a severe angle obscured much of the detail.   With help from some enhanced images from the Oshkosh Public Museum and sketches from Wm. Waters I was able to reproduce the facade.  The detail of the arches of the second floor windows which can still be seen are identical to that of the main arch of the Grand Opera House, with rosettes carved in the limestone springers and keystones.     
Also built after the fire of 1874 was the Luther Davies and Company, Dry Goods.  The three story building was constructed of cream colored brick with red accents.  Architect Waters employed many intricate brick work techniques, (see post of 10/23/2010).  For many years the store was covered with several coats of paint, cloaking its' beauty, until cleaning the brick reviled the original splendor.  
At the corner of North Main and Church Street was another commercial structure built in 1874, using much the same brick style as the Davies building; cream colored with red brick accents.  The second story windows on the front featured Gothic arched and segmented lintel of cream and red brick with springers and keystones of limestone. The side of the building ran at an obtuse angle from the front, along Church Avenue.  The building had three retail spaces, one on Main Street and two on the Church Avenue side.  Also on that side was the stairway to the upper floor which housed the Oshkosh Business College, run by W. W. Daggett.  For years the structures' beauty lay hidden under many layers of paint, which when removed exposed the rich color and intricacy.