Friday, July 23, 2010

Commercial building mystery

It is often easy to recognize certain commercial structures as being the work of William Waters if one know what to look for. Many banks or retail buildings planned for a conner location feature a forty five degree angle cut corner providing another surface for doors, windows and ornamentation. This can be
seen in all the images in this post.

The first image is that of the Commercial Bank of Oshkosh,
from digital collection of the Oshkosh Public Library.
It was built in 1883 and still stands on the southwest corner of
High and Main Sts. although the front of the building has been
altered. The second bank pictured is the Commercial Nation Bank of Appleton, from the collection of the Appleton Public Library. Constructed in 1885, it was destroyed by fire
in the 1920's. Next is the Peterman Block in Merrill
which original housed a bank and several retail concerns. Today it's an Ace Hardware store. All three of these building came form
the drawing board of William Waters. The similarities are

Characteristically the entrance is emphasized with a pediment above the door supported by columns. The second or third floors have large windows. A set of small triplet windows occupy the space just below another pediment at the top of the wall. These pediments generally bear an inscription regarding date of construction, name of builder or building purpose. The fenestration of the building is regular often with large double windows set within an arched niche. Decorative brick work such as contrasting courses or bricks set diagonally add visual interest to exterior wall.

The last two buildings pictured here may also be the work of
Mr. Waters. However my inquires about the architect have gone unanswered.
The first of the two is the Pratt block which still stands in downtown Ripon. The second was an office building commissioned by Henry Sherry of Neenah. The Sherry building stood on the corner of W. Wisconsin Av. and Church St. and was demolished many years ago. Waters had many commissions in Ripon including residences, a school, bank and opera house. He certainly may have found other work as well. As for Mr. Sherry's office building, Waters designed the Sherry residence, he may well have been asked to do the office too.
The similarities between the Pratt Block and the Sherry office are too great to be coincidental. The five building are so much alike one can easily conclude that Waters was architect for all.

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