Friday, April 8, 2011

Oshkosh Schools of the late Nineteenth Century

As the nineteenth century dwindled, William Waters still enjoyed a good relationship with the Oshkosh School Board. In 1898 the board called for four major projects; A new Punhoqua School, additions to the Second Ward and High Schools as well as a school for the 10th Ward. Without much ado, Waters was asked to draw plans for the Punhoqua School and the and the additions to the other schools.
The Punhoqua School was a small and graceful structure, located in the suburb of Algoma and described in an earlier post. The additions planed were for the back side of the Second Ward School and finely the total restructuring of the High School's front elevation. The High School project was very ambitious; remove the center tower and build an addition 112' x 58', three stories in height, modernizing the look of the building. An article in the Oshkosh Northwestern dated 6/23/1898 states that construction might start in the fall of that year with a similar addition to be erected the following year on the Church St. side of the building. However no press is given to the actual accomplishment of the renovation. A comparison of the two photo below shows the facade was never altered. Perhaps the project was delayed and rendered moot when the building burned in 1901.

The Tenth Ward or Merrill School had a very convolute design history. Plans drawn by Waters were adopted in 1898, and then rescinded by the board a few months later. Other architect were asked to submit plans but no other submissions were forthcoming and Waters' plans were readopted. An intervening election changed the make up the school board and once more other architects were encouraged to supply plans for the new school. Several architects entered plans, most notably Ephraim E. Stevens.

For more than a year the City Council and School Board haggled over the design. At one point the council authorized bids be let only to be over ridden by the school board. Finely in 1900 the a resolution was arrived at and E. E. Stevens' plans were adopted.


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