In recent years there has been a misunderstanding about the Oshkosh Post Offices and the roll William Water played in their design and construction. Mr. Waters had a hand in two Oshkosh Post Offices. After the great fire of 1875 the architect designed the building that would serve as the post office for the next fifteen years. It was located on Washington Street next to the First National Bank. The Waters firm had its' office on the second floor of this building. A new Federal Court House & Post Office was built next door in 1890.
There are those who believe William Waters to be architect of the structure constructed in 189o. Michael J. Goc in his book "Oshkosh at 150" credits Waters with the design but this is not the case. Confusion may arise because of the similarities with the Oshkosh City Hall built in 1887.
Both buildings were built of red brick with lime stone trim and featured an imposing central tower on the south elevation as well as transverse section at the north end of the building. The two building were similarly located each on the northwest corner of an intersection. Consequently photos of both were taken from the same vantage point and may have been the genesis for mistaken identity. In an article published September 13,1887 in the Oshkosh Northwestern it is reported that Mr. Freret took over the planning fromMr. Bell and was showing the plans to Senator Sawyer.
There were two prominent architects named Freret, James and William A. Freret. They were cousins and natives of New Orleans. The latter was Supervising Architect of the Treasury from 1887 to 1889 and the Mr. Bell mentioned in the article was Mifflin E. Bell, William Freret's predecessor in that post. Mr. Freret designed several federal building in his tenure with the office. The Oshkosh building may have been a collaboration of a kind, the designs came due during a time of transition. The idea that William Waters was the architect may come from an article from May of 1888 which names the Oshkosh architect as Superintendent. In the July 12, 1888 edition of the Oshkosh Northwestern it is again reported that Mr. Freret is the architect of the new Federal Building.