Saturday, July 30, 2011

Flats of Oshkosh Real or Imagined

In the late ninetieth century the city of Oshkosh was taking on a metropolitan feel. One manifestation of this was the planning and building of flats or multiple family dwellings.William Waters was commissioned for several jobs of this nature. Newspaper accounts abound with many proposed buildings, some of which were constructed and some were not. There was a proposal made in 1885 by Richard Guenther to put up a building of Waters' design on Jefferson Street, consisting of two tenements. An article printed in the Northwestern Weekly on October 22nd describes it as a handsome double house of the Queen Anne style, fronting to the east with entrances on the north and south sides of the building. The front window of each flat was to be of three panels with an upper section of art glass. Although the house was two stories the dormers above the second floor were to make it appear as a third story. The description is vague and gives no indication of size or what material was used in construction. It is difficult to know if the dwelling was ever built; there are follow up articles nor any images. It is possible that it was razed to make way for the Elk's club or other new construction.

The Frontenac Flats were an undertaking of Dr. Steele and E. L. Wickwire with J. T. Raycraft as builder. The plans were drawn by William Waters in 1897 and much press was given to the building over the course of construction. The flats were to occupy a space 120' x 120' at the corner of High and Bond Sts. and was to be built of red pressed brick, two stories high with red terra cotta trim just below the cornice. Rumors of a third story were put to rest by Dr. Steele shortly after work commenced. As laid out by Architect Waters the building was to hold sixteen flats, twelve to front on High St. and four to front on Bond St. However the final number of flats was fourteen. The building was ready for occupancy about a year after started and still stand.

The Marden Flats were built by the Marden brothers, asphalt pavers and roofers. The flats weren't on as grand scale as the Frontenac, just upper and lower units on a long, narrow lot next to Trinity Episcopal Church. The house was built in 1898 tight next to the church. It sat on a tall foundation and had small front porch gained by a flight of eight steps. Above the porch was a set of double windows and to the right were bay windows which went from the basement to second floor. The structure was of wood and had a flat roof. The building was razed perhaps some time in the 1940's.
Two project of the early twentieth century never came to fruition. On February 2, 1902 the Northwestern printed a revised description of the flat to be be erected by W. W. Tolman at the intersection of Jackson St. and West Irving Avenue. Tolman purchased the former Bouck property, an empty lot measuring 63' x 120' and had Waters plan a three story building, 56' x 87' which would hold six flats. The building was originally to be two stories of brick but was changed to three and built of wood. There were to be bay windows in both the sitting and dinning rooms. It was to be Colonial in style with entrances at the center of the structure with front verandas, the first floor being of press brick and stone, the upper portion of wood. There is no evidence visa vie newspapers or photographs that the structure was ever built. The other project to come from Mr. Waters' drawing board but never built was proposed by Mr. H. W. Peek or Peck as the Northwestern of 5/5/1902 reported. Peek was a successful cigar merchant and had a home on the north east corner of Washington Avenue and Mt. Vernon St. The plan called for the moving of his house to an empty lot on Mt Vernon just north of Merritt Avenue and build an edifice of nine flats. The 100' x 45' three story structure was to sit on a lot 120' x 60' and was to be built in the latest style of red press brick with trim of Oshkosh blue limestone. There were to be two entrances on Mt Vernon and one on Washington with verandas on all three floors and was to be named the Windsor. Mr. Peeks' untimely death ended the project.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post! It’s almost a shame that Oshkosh never truly had a tenement district. It would have contributed an entirely different character to the city. I suppose land was cheap and plentiful enough to keep those high population densities from occurring. I drive by the old Frontenac Flats almost daily. Still looks beautiful. And you’re drawing does it justice! You’ve got a terrific blog going, here.