Tuesday, May 15, 2018

A Tenth Avenue Challenge


Early in my study of William Waters I tried to locate as many of his buildings as I could.  Most of his residential work was confined to the north side of Oshkosh with but a few south of the river.  One house on west Tenth Avenue however bore some features which made me think it was the work of architect Waters.  It was a large dwelling with a front gable which held a set of triplet windows.  Below that, on the second floor was a large set of double windows to the left and to the right of those were two small windows.   The first-floor front was covered by an enclosed porch which ran the width of the house and round the left end of the house.  
   
The house was built in 1885 for Hans J. Christenson, an employee of the Central Wisconsin Railroad.  The front porch which dominated the front of the house was not original to the building as shown in a fire insurance map from 1903.  What was there seems to have been a porch at the right front corner of the house and another smaller porch on the east side of the building.   Obscured by the enclosed front, I was unable to discern the fenestration beyond but based on other residences by Mr. Waters I could imagen the unaltered front elevation.    

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Change of Plans


The end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century was a golden age of progress and wealth.  The city of Oshkosh and the whole of Fox River valley, from Green Bay, Appleton to Neenah, Menasha were enjoying unheard of prosperity. 


In the early years of the twentieth century Oshkosh in particular was eager to cast off the vestiges of the old and project a new and modern city.  The First Congregational Church had out grown it’s 1873 edifice and engaged architect William Waters to design a new house of worship.  As early as 1908 plans were reviled for the project which left the old church in tact but added a new structure to the west.  Time pasted and the plans evolved and by 1910 the vision was to remodel the old church, remove the spire and link two the new building with cloisters, front and back.  There was also to be a parsonage on the corner of Algoma and Light Streets


The project as committed to paper was not realized, there was no remake of the old church and the parsonage never came to fruition.  The parsonage as seen in the architect’s rendering was in the same style as Edgar Sawyer’s residence and the house would likely been constructed of the same limestone and brick as the church and would have made an impressive addition to the intersection.

Please see other posts: Churches of Oshkosh, Part 1,3/16/2012 and Oshkosh Churches, Part 3 6/1/2012, for information on the First Congregational churches.  Also for information on the Sawyer Residence see Oshkosh Residences, Part 5, 11/25/2011. 

Friday, April 13, 2018

Otter Avenue Mystery


Months ago, I was prepared to write an article about the house at 524 Otter Avenue.  I had always suspected it to be the work of William Waters but an old Oshkosh building survey recognized Joseph Weber as the architect, so I abandoned my planed missive.  A few weeks past David Groth, an architectural historical and fellow Waters aficionado asked me about the house.  He said he and others believed it was indeed a “Waters’ job”.  I told him I agreed with him and would consider the matter further.  

I researched city directories and my notes and found that the house was built in 1886 for W. H. Crawford, a plumber, steam and gas fitter.  The directories of 1886 and 1889 list Joseph Weber as being a carpenter but not an architect.  Those same volumes list only A. E. Bell and Wm. Waters as architects.  The house displays many features favored by architect Waters and would have been a fine example of his Queen Anne Style of the time.  I then recalled other instances of erroneous architectural attribution in the Oshkosh building survey.  It’s likely the researchers for the building survey found Mr. Weber’s name as the builder and concluded that he was also the architect.  Perhaps David Groth, the others and I are correct and the house is truly from William Waters’ drawing board.      

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Another Jackson Street Possibility


The house at 1018 Jackson Street in Oshkosh was possibly the work of William Waters.  Although over the years many alterations were made there were still some remaining elements which marked it as Mr. Waters’ design.  The long narrow triplet windows in the front gable were certainly a feature used by Waters as well as the front porch set within the footprint of the structure. 


The house was built circa 1894, because the city directories of 1891 and 1893 list nothing at the address, whereas the 1895 directory lists an address and two occupants: Mr. Frank Larish, a railroad postal clerk and L. T. Larson a telegraph operator.  By 1898 the house was the residence of insurance agent, John Bylman and his family, who lived there for many years.  It likely became a multifamily dwelling with the on set of the great depression, when many large houses became too costly to maintain as single family homes.    



Friday, March 23, 2018

A Great Remodel


In my youth I would occasionally walk home from school, a stroll that took me nearly the entire length of Washington Avenue.  The best part of the walk was from Bowen Street to my house. It was pleasant because the street was lined with large graceful trees and elegant well-maintained homes.  One of my favorites was the house at 1022 Washington Avenue, a larger white house  on the north side of the street, of a simple design, a porch which stretched across its front and sat on manicured grounds.  When I became aware of William Waters I thought it was perhaps one of his works.
I was never able to link Mr. Waters to the house but I did learn some interesting facts about the residence.  One of the first things learned was that it did not always look as it does now and it was much older than I thought.  The house was built 1865 by Colonel John Hancock, a lawyer who served in the Civil War.  The Hancock’s lived there until 1871, then moved closer to the lake on Merritt Avenue.  Attorney Hancock sold the place in 1871 to another lawyer, Charles Felker who’s family resided there until 1919.  In 1894 or so Mr. Felker had the house remodeled and expanded, a large portion was added to the west side of the house and gabled roofs topped off the structure.  There were two elements present which led me to conclude the addition was designed by architect Waters; the graceful brackets supporting the gable ends and the set of four window in the front gable with an arched light above the center two.




















Parenthetically, Mr. Felker was an avid yachtsman and one-time commodore of the Oshkosh Yacht Club, in 1885 he instituted the race for the trophy which bore his name and has been contested each year since.              

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Stylish Cottage


In the 1890’s the northern limit of Oshkosh was New York Avenue.  There was north of the avenue the Fair Grounds and Race Course on Jackson Street with a few houses along that thoroughfare.  The fairgrounds effectively blocked several streets from going much past New York Avenue and Wisconsin Street was one such roadway.  In 1895 Wisconsin Street went as far as the southern boundary of the fairgrounds and there were but a few houses along its course.  One on the west side of the street very near the terminus was the home of John Koehler, a body maker at the Clark Wagon Company. 
The dwelling was a fine and stylist structure suitable for a working man and his family.  It was one and half stories high with a small porch in the front corner.  There was on the front elevation a gable with a set of double windows and along the south side of the house was a large bay window.   


Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Bay Street Bungalow


The house at number 313 Bay Street in Oshkosh is not a real bungalow is the sense of the architectural vernacular but the alliteration made for a catchy title.  The diminutive dwelling was a Queen Anne Style cottage built circa 1885 and featured some details that marked it as the work of William Waters.  It was only one and a half stories but had a layout often used by architect Waters. A small porch at the left of the front elevation is covered by the roof of the front gable.  In that gable was a bay window just below the peak, an element seen in Mr. Waters' Queen Anne works.  Along the south side of the house, just past the porch was another larger bay window and above that a gable with a set of double windows.  Beyond the bay window was the back porch.