Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Lakeside Sanitarium

As a kid I was told by a friend that the house on the corner of Washington and Hazel Street was the original Mercy Hospital, I was skeptical.  As it turned out my friend was right, and wrong.  The history of medicine and hospitals in Oshkosh is interesting from an architectural point of view.  Perhaps the first general hospital was Alexian Brother founded in 1880 and housed in the former J. J. Moore residence on the corner of Jackson and New York Avenue.  Later the brothers built a large brick structure with grounds that occupied the entire block.  In 1891 the Sisters of the Sorrowful Mother established St. Mary Hospital in an erstwhile store on the corner of Boyd and Merritt Street, which was replaced by a handsome brick structure designed by E.E. Stevens in 1894. 
 By 1903 the good Sisters had ambitious plans for explanation and hired E. Breilmaler and Sons, architect of Milwaukee to plan an addition, which if built as drawn would have tripled the size of the hospital.  That was not to be and only a small portion was constructed and served as a hospital until 1934 when it became a home for the aged.                                      
 In 1889 a young doctor named Michael E. Corbett MD arrived in Oshkosh, his office was in the Beckwith Block on Main St. and his residence on Waugoo Avenue.  In 1892 Dr. Corbett chose William Waters to design his house on Washington Avenue.  Dr. Corbett seems to have been an ambitious person and soon made a name for himself such that by 1902 he purchased the lot behind his house and commissioned William Klapproth to design a modern new office. The office was something of a new departure for a doctor’s office.  Physicians might have an office in their home or on the second floor of a business block, Dr. Corbett’s office looked like a home.  
In 1905 Corbett bought the former residence of Congressman Richard Guenther on the Washington Avenue, the same house my friend claimed was the original Mercy Hospital.  Dr. Corbett transformed the house, designed by William Waters into the Lakeside Sanitarium. 

It remained that until 1912 when he and eighteen other doctors formed the Lakeside Sanitarium Company and hired architect Waters to plan a modern new hospital.  New facility was equipped with the most up-to-date innovations, such as an Otis automatic elevator, one merely had to push a number button and the car would stop at that floor. The new building occupied the block from Hazel to Oak and from Park to Cleveland and was four full stories with the fifth floor as a dormitory.  
For a while, the city was blessed with two general hospitals, St. Mary's and Lakeside. The Alexian Brothers had long since taken up working with addiction and mental patients only.  In 1918 the Sister of the Sorrowful Mother purchased the Lakeside Sanitarium, renaming it Mercy Hospital.  The sisters maintained both St. Mary's and Mercy, even expanding Mercy in 1922 with a lager wing at the north side of the building, in 1938 there was another addition to the south end, witch completely obscured all vestiges of the original building. 

 For many decades Mercy Medical Center as it became known, was fixture on Hazel Street.  As the city grew so did the hospital, its expansion had an adverse effect on the surrounding residential neighborhood.  Finally, in 2000 a new medical center was erected on the city's far west side and what had been the hospital became care and housing for the elderly.                 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Schlitz In Oshkosh

In an earlier post the subject of Oshkosh beer distribution and the Pabst brewing company was covered but many other out of town breweries set up shop in the city, chief among them was Schlitz. August Uihlein of the Schlitz Brewery was selling beer in Oshkosh as early as the 1880's and in 1891 the Uihlein Block was completed, which housed Schlitz Hall a magnificent drinking place. ( See, “More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Five.” May 28, 2015)
Something was afoot, in February of 1891, William Dichmann an Oshkosh business man purchased a lot on Division Street. Dichmann has purchased the lot at Washington and State St. some years earlier and in turn sold it to Mr. Uihlein so that the Uihlein Block could be built. In mid-year, 1891 came the announcement of the brewery's intention to build a storage house with a bottling facility and stable, this according to the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern of July 8, 1891. The article stated that the structure was to 36 x 62 and was to be located on Division St., between the Milwaukee Road and Central Wisconsin Central tracks, the same lot acquired by Mr. Dichmann some months earlier. There was also published in that same edition a notice to contractors for sealed bids for the construction of the edifice, plans for which could be viewed and bids accepted at the office of William Waters, architect. The Oshkosh Times of October 29,1891 printed an article on the just completed Schlitz warehouse, describing it's modern attributes and praising it as “...quite an addition to the city's semi-public buildings.” Just what the building looked like is a bit of a mystery as there are no extant images of the place.
The building did appear on the 1903 Sanborn Map of Oshkosh, labeled as Louis Plate Beer Bottling and shows several structures, some of wood and some with a brick veneer but not much more than that. The Oshkosh Beer Blog of April 4, 2016 covers the Schlitz in Oshkosh subject more extensively and I commend those pages to you as a good and interesting read.