Saturday, July 31, 2010

What about Fond Du Lac?

In my early research on William Waters, I carefully noted every city in which Mr. Waters worked.
It was apparent that Oshkosh, Appleton and Neenah and Menasha were fertile ground for the architect's talents. It seemed however that
the city of Fond Du Lac was fallow as there was never any mention made of his work in that city. As research opportunities broadened, an article from 1902 came to my attention. The notice was regarding the departure of William Waters Jr.
from the firm in order to take a position with the army in the Philippines. A short list of cities where the firm had worked included; Green Bay, New Lisbon and Fond Du Lac. The hunt was on, I scoured every online photo archive I could think of looking for any residential, commercial, religious or governmental building that had the look of a "Waters' Job".

Eventually my research lead me to the State of Wisconsin Collection and the Fond Du Lac archives. There in "A Souvenir of Fond Du Lac County Wisconsin", published by C. O. Stiles some time around 1904, I saw a picture of the P. B. Haber residence. Something about the house in the picture was reminiscent of a Waters design. I thought of the George Bergstrom home in Neenah. It shares some of the same characteristics with the Haber home. The gambrel roof that extends to the first floor is found on both structures. The upper porch railings are similar. The
treatment of the gable end while not found on the Bergstrom house is seen in other Waters designs from about that time.

I also considered the time line. No image of the
Haber place appears in an 1898 photo review
of Fond Du Lac, just the 1904 souvenir. Then there is the matter of the written record. An extensive article on Waters published in 1893 lists nearly all the important structures by him to that date. Fond Du Lac and Haber's residence are absent. The city only comes up in the 1902 article. This all leads me to believe the Haber house was built about 1900.

I asked a friend living in Fond Du Lac to see if the Haber place was still there and if so send me pictures. Indeed the house is still there, sans a portion of the front porch and resided top to bottom with beige siding. It is once again a private dwelling after many years as the property of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. Now I must find proof that Waters drew the plans for this once graceful building.

No comments:

Post a Comment