Monday, December 31, 2012

Ripon High School

Mr. Waters' architectural influence was seen throughout the state of Wisconsin, from Ashland on Lake Superior's southern shore to Watertown situated along the Rock River.  Much of his work outside of Oshkosh was within a short distance of home.  A May 19th, 1881 article in the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern was an interview with the architect and a litany of his works in progress.  He's quoted as saying, "I've never known business to be so rushing in the office as it was this spring."   The demand was largely, however, from out of town.  Ripon, some twenty miles southwest of Oshkosh was a place which provided several building commissions: including residential, educational and commercial structures.  One of the buildings mentioned in the newspaper was a new school house in that city.    
The building was to be built of brick 67' x 94' with a basement and two stories high at a cost of $12,000, that was all the write up had to say about the building.  Queen Anne was the favored style at the time and the new school was very stylish with bricks of a light hue and contrasting dark bands and window accents.  It possessed an asymmetrical plan; behind the central bell tower was a transverse pavilion with a gabled roof of sorts.  At the center of the left elevation arose a chimney, which at the roof line met with a small gable, the main portion of the roof formed a hip at the corners but at the point above the small gable continued to the peak as a gable, making for a complex and interesting design feature.  Along the front of the roof was gabled dormer with a small window.  To the right of the steeple was another pavilion, at a right angle to the main building, it too had a gabled roof.  There was a porch and entrance on the front of the tower which rose high above the school, capped by a peaked roof.  The building remained in use as a high school and served grades one through eight until it was demolished 1912.

Friday, December 14, 2012

New Lisbon High School

On April 21, 1900 the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern reported that the firm of William Waters & Son was successful in it's bid to win the design contract for the high school at New Lisbon, a community about ninety five miles west of Oshkosh in Juneau County.  The building was to cost $25,000 and the younger Mr. Waters was on his way to that city to advertise for a contractor and make other preparations.  A year later there was another article regarding the New Lisbon school, praising the community of a thousand citizens for building a fine and modern school.  The headline read "High School at New Lisbon Tho Small May Give Oshkosh Ideas."  Perhaps that was an admonishment, suggesting the Oshkosh School Board may wish to scrutinize the plans of the building; there being a protracted discussion about a new high school in Oshkosh.  

The write-up went on to describe the new structure as two stories 73'x 105' built of Bedford limestone and red pressed brick.  The assembly room, measuring forty  by sixty was on the second floor as well as the principal's office, and two each of the following: laboratories, recitation rooms and cloak rooms.  The first floor was occupied by five class rooms, the basement housed wash rooms, furnace room, a large play room for use on rainy days and the third floor attic was one large room outfitted as a gymnasium.  The building was   a transverse layout with large wings on either side of a receding wall at center containing an arched entry of segmented limestone, other trim as well as the foundation were of the same stone.  The rest of the structure was of red pressed brick, laid with recessed courses every two feet or so giving the first floor walls a layered look.  A band of stone divided the first and second floors with brick work quoins decorating the corners of the second story walls, the window featured jack arch lintels.  Above it a tall hip roof covered it all; four small dormers graced the front of each wing and great chimneys towered over the roof.  A large dormer  dominated the center of the roof just below an elegant bell tower.  By the start of classes 1901, the students of New Lisbon had a fine new school but which was to have a short existence for on the night of March 10, 1907 it was consumed by a fire.  All that remained were portions of the front entry, left wing outer walls and the chimneys.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Shawano and Marshfield High Schools

Smith School in Oshkosh, Wittenberg and Brandon High Schools were not the only schools for which Mr. Waters used the same plans.  The 1880's were busy times for William Waters with much work in Oshkosh and the growing north land.  In mid December of 1887 a one line notice was printed in the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern stating the architect was preparing plans for a school in Shawano.  No mention was made that it was to be the new high school and the reader is given no dimensions, construction materials or other specifications.  One may speculate the school was built in 1888 and may have been finished by the start of school that year.  The building remained in service for many years but not always as the high school, later it became a grade school and was renamed Lincoln School but was destroyed by fire in 1924. 

On August 8th of 1889 the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern reprinted a brief article from the Marshfield Times, which announced that William Waters was in town to submit plans for the new high school to the building committee, which accepted them.  These drawing were said to be with very few alterations, the same as those of the Shawano High School.  In the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of July 2,1890 it was noted that the new Marshfield High School was completed; it measured 50' x 94', two stories high with seven rooms and cost $15,000.  This building was used as the high school for a time but was replaced in 1899, became known as Central Avenue School and was renamed Washington School in 1906.  The building eventually was no longer needed and was demolished in 1957.
These two schools employed a transverse arrangement with a prominent bell tower at the center.  The fenestration of the front elevation was regular with eight windows in the foundation, twelve large apertures  on the first and second floors and two small window on both floors adjacent to the tower.  Perhaps these smaller widows opened into cloak rooms while the larger windows were ostensibly class rooms windows. The entrance, gain by by a flight of steps was at the center of the tower protected by a covered porch with a gabled roof.  The school in Shawano was of light colored brick with dark courses forming bands, the arched   lintels also had dark accents, Marshfields' school built of red brick and plain lintels.  A hip roof with large dormers at either end capped the structure.  The major variation between the two, beside the brick color was the belfry; Shawanos' had louvered covered openings on each side and Marshfield had small columns which gave the tower a Romanesque appearance.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Brandon High School

A useful tool for research is the internet, one can visit many places and times, never leaving the office.  While viewing images of schools I was astonished to find one of  the Brandon High School located in a village in western Found du Lac county.  I thought at once it had to be a Waters' job because of its' remarkable resemblance to both Smith School in Oshkosh and the High School in Wittenberg.  It was perplexing that in all my investigation of William Waters I'd never seen any reference to the Brandon school.  I contacted the Brandon Historical Society but they had no information on the building at all.  Other attempts to find a written  record of the architect proved just as fruitless.  Online archives of the local newspaper, "The Brandon Times" had nothing of high schools' construction and no school histories were to be found.  The school no longer exists as an institution, having been combined with another small rural high school. 
As of this writing I still have no written proof that William Waters planned the structure but I'm willing to say he authored the plans.  Here's my reasoning: The front elevation from the roof down was the same on this building as that of Smith School, Oshkosh and Wittenberg High School; a central pavilion with two arched entrances behind which a flight of steps led to the front door.  Above these portals were three sets of double windows with arched tops.  The wings on either side of center had on the first floor two sets of double arched windows, like those above the entry and four windows across the second floor. The right side elevation was the same as the other schools with four sets of windows on the first floor and eight windows on the second floor.  The left elevation was a departure from the established pattern, just three sets of windows on the first floor and six along the upper floor implying a divergent floor plan.  The greatest modification  was the roof; Where as the schools in Oshkosh and Wittenberg had low hipped roofs the Brandon school's roof was reminiscent of that of  Winneconne's West Side School. (See "Small Schools" May 2010.)  The roof featured large dormers on either end such as those found on the Shawano and Marshfield high schools.  A diminutive bell tower with an almost onion like dome crowned the peak of the front elevation.  The years of the building's constructions is unknown to me but I would recon it to be circa 1900 give or take five years either side of that date.  It is unclear when the school was demolished, perhaps sometime in the 1980's.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Wittenberg High School

The Shawano county village of Wittenberg was founded in the early 1880's with the Rev. E. L. Homme as one of its' prime movers.  He's even credited with naming the place and like its' German name sake it was a center of learning and hot bed of Lutheranism. The Reverend Homme, in 1881 formed Wittenbergs' first house of worship, Immanual's Church.  Later he built an orphanage and home for the aged.  There was a time when the village had seven schools; Wittenberg Public School, Wittenberg High School, St Paul Lutheran School, The Government Indian School, Bethany Indian Mission, Homme's Orphan School and The Wittenberg Academy 
The subject of this posting will be the Wittenberg High School.  It was February 19, 1897 when a note appeared in the Oshkosh Northwestern regarding sealed bids for the construction of a new high school in Wittenberg.  The plan  for which could be viewed at the office of William Waters and the office of contractor W. G. Heins in Wittenberg.  That's all the newspaper had to say on the subject.  The proposed structure was based on the same plan used for Oshkosh's Smith School built in 1895.  With but a few minor differences the schools were identical, with the biggest contrast being the brick color; Smith School was a light hue and the high school was a dark shade.  The building had a transverse layout, a central pavilion had two arched entrances behind which steps led to the front door. Above were sets of three arched windows while the wings on either side included two arched double windows on the first floor and four single arched window above.  This pattern was repeated along the sides.  The building was topped with a hip roof with ample eves supported by long brackets.  For nearly ninety years the building served the community but was replaced, falling to the wrecking ball in the mid 1980's.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Kewaunee County Jail

The available histories on Kewaunee County don't provide much information on the founding of the county or the subsequent building of the jail.  The county was partitioned from Door County in 1852 and Kewaunee was named the county seat.  Elections were held, a board was put into place and in 1856 they held their first meeting.  Shortly after the county organization, building were erected in Kewaunee for government use and served for a time. In 1873 a substantial court house was constructed and in 1876 the county hired William Waters to design a Sheriff's residence and jail.  The concept of combining the sheriff's residence and jail was not uncommon in the Midwest and was seen in several Wisconsin counties.
The jail was of Italianate design very much in vogue at the time.  The brick building employed a transverse layout with a symmetrical front elevation.  A central portico and ornate canopy covered entry with a window above dominated the front.  On either side of the portico were large window on the first floor and petite windows above.  A noteworthy feature was the board and batten siding which formed a frieze just below the eves which were supported by large brackets.  The hipped roof had a flat top with a low balustrade around the perimeter and several chimneys   On the back side was the jail wing of the structure.  The fenestration consisted of small bared windows along the sides.  The wing had a  low sloped hip roof with a large chimney at the center of the back wall. The building was used until 1969 and survives to this day as a museum.  It's had minor alterations with the removal of the canopy, steps and a chimney. This is one of three Waters' designed structures to be converted to museum use; others being the Rogers' residence or "Hearthstone" in Appleton and the Edger Sawyer's residence, now the Oshkosh Public Museum.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Green Lake County Courthouse

The Territory of  Wisconsin was made up of a few very large counties, as a state these were divided into smaller units as the population grew and more efficient government was needed.  Brown County covered an eminence amount of real-estate, from which Marquette County was formed and in 1858, Green Lake County split from Marquette with Berlin as the governmental seat of the embryonic county.  Some growing pains were to follow.  In 1862, by a vote of the citizens the seat was moved to Dartford a more centrally located; all be it smaller community.  The following year a courthouse was built there and the matter seemed to be settled.  In 1866 a faction favoring Princeton seized county records and moved the seat to that city but the state Supreme Court ordered the return of government to Dartford.  Attempts to bring Ripon into the county and make it the county seat failed as well.
Dartford survived as the home of county government and in January of 1899 a newspaper article announced the intention of the county to build a new courthouse and jail as planned by William Waters.  The drawings had been done by architect Waters sometime earlier but no action was taken until 1899.  The plans called for a two story structure with basement, 81' x 43' of red pressed brick and gray limestone trim, steam heat and all modern improvements.  The total cost of the courthouse was to be $15,000, the separate jail and sheriff's residence adjacent to the courthouse was priced at $10,000.  Both buildings were of a similar style; the courthouse was neoclassical with a front portico replete with ionic columns.  The fenestration was symmetrical, with the first floor window featuring jack arch lintels and the second floor with  roman arches and  keystone of limestone.  The buildings' hip roof was capped by a demure bell tower of an appropriate style. 
The jail had fewer classical trapping than the courthouse but was built of the same red brick.  It too was a study in symmetry with a central porch and balcony gracing the front elevation flanked by eight windows.  The windows on the lower level had jack arch lintels with a limestone key, brick work on that floor had recessed courses every two feet or so giving the wall a segmented look. The windows of the upper floor were topped by a frieze and the substantial eves were supported by numerous brackets, atop it all was a bell-cast hip roof.  Over the years changes were made to the building; in 1914 a Waters planned addition was erected along with other repairs, this may have been when the bell tower was removed.  Later there were other changes as well, Dratford was renamed Green Lake and another addition was built in the 60's or 70's.  The courthouse continued to serve for well over a century, in 2008 the county board voted to build a new courthouse which was completed in 2010, the erstwhile courthouse was sold and may find new life as a community center.  

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Wood County Courthouse

Wood County Wisconsin was once part of Brown County and by the 1860's had grown in population enough to warrant independence.  The lumber industry was the catalyst for this growth with many mills located along the Wisconsin River.  The twin cities of Grand Rapids and Centralia were prominent communities and Grand Rapids received the coveted honor as the seat of county government.  In 1866 a wooden courthouse was built and was useful for a time but by 1881 it was clear that a new building was needed.

Plans for brick structure were drawn by William Waters and the construction contract let to a Green Bay firm.  The former courthouse was sold and put to use as a cigar factory which went up in smoke in 1885. The new courthouse sat on a high limestone foundation with a main pavilion to the left of a soaring tower.  At the center of the pavilion was the front entrance, gained by a flight of nine steps.  Limestone accents graced the top of the arched opening.  Above there was a large triplet window with a Roman arch with limestone accents as well.  Along each side of the pavilion at its center was a cross gable with triplet window on the first floor and an arched triplet window on the second floor, echoing that on the front elevation.  Small double windows occupied the peak of each gable.  The tower above the roof line had eight side and four louvered openings also with Roman arches matching the windows of the second floor.  A domed roof capped the tower.  The building's floor plan seemed to be the reverse of that use in the Price, Oneida and Waushara County courthouses used later that same decade.       

The histories I've research are vague about the exact date but at some point, perhaps in the 1890's Mr. Waters was asked to draw plan for a substantial addition to the courthouse.  The size of the courthouse was doubled and went from asymmetrical to symmetrical.  The tower now at the center of the structure was given  even greater height with the addition of an octagonal peaked roof. The wings on either side of the central turret were mirror images.  When completed, one was unaware that the courthouse had been altered.  The years past and the two cites became one; Wisconsin Rapids.  The building continued to serve Wood County  until it was replaced in the 1950's

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Three Wisconsin Courthouses

In all William Waters drew planes for six courthouses as well as additions to the Winnebago County Courthouse.  The architect had remarkable years from 1880 to 1888 for in that time three courthouses of his design were erected.   The preliminary drawings upon which all three were based were done perhaps in 1880; a Queen Anne style building with a tower to the left of a main pavilion and gabled dormers along each side.  They were the Oneida, Price and Waushara county courthouses. 

The first of these triplet building was the Price County Courthouse in Phillips built in 1880; of wooden frame construction, with a Mansard roof atop the tower but in general of a Queen Style.  The trip north proved good for business as architect Waters drew up plans for a bank and school in the same village.  All three building served until the summer of 1894 which was hot and dry; on July 24th wind driven forest fires moved toward Phillips.  Many residences fled the flame via a south bound freight train while the conflagration consumed the community.  In 1887 a very similar courthouse was built in Rhinelander, Oneida County.  After years of service a new, larger replacement was built and the former courthouse became the Oneida County Normal School but was later demolished.

Also in 1888 Waushara County built a new courthouse based on the same set of plans.  Although Queen Anne in style this building was of brick or had a brick veneer with a bell shaped tower roof similar to that of the Oneida Courthouse.  The light colored brick was accented with decorative bands of dark brick.  The fenestration matched that of the other two buildings, with arched windows on the second floor.  For the next forty years the courthouse was a landmark in Wautoma, until April 30th, 1928 when a fire started in the basement and quickly engulfed the entire structure.  After the blaze, a chimney left standing and swaying in the wind was dynamited out of concern it might fall and do harm.  What remained of the walls soon collapsed, the building was a total loss.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Waupaca County Courthouse



The first count courthouse Mr. Waters planed was in Waupaca.  The county was formed in the early 1850's and by 1880 had become a prosperous center of industry and commerce.  Such a county would need a modern and substantial edifice from which to conduct county affairs.  The county board selected a square in the center of the city of Waupaca as the site of the new courthouse and William Waters won the job of designing the building.  Construction began in 1880 and was finished before January 1, 1882.  The courthouse was in the Queen Anne Style; two stories high of a light colored red brick with contrasting bands at the window tops and bottoms.  On the front elevation a central tower with an entrance was flanked by wings with a high hipped roof with dormers.  Each side of the building also had entrances and a three story tower capped a peaked hip roof.  The building continued to serve for nearly a century with some additions and alterations.  A large wing was add in 1903 and at sometime the hipped roof and towers were removed, perhaps for easy of  maintenance.  The removal of the roof gave the building an odd unfinished look.  The county built a new courthouse in 1978 and demolished the old one making way for a new library.  Architect Waters' foray to Waupaca also garnered more business with commissions in Waupaca for commercial buildings, homes and various projects on the Chain-O-Lakes. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Oshkosh Churches, P. S.

This missive will be two posts in one, both dealing with Trinity Episcopal Church.  The first part should have appeared in the post " Oshkosh Flats, Real or Imagined."   Of all the churches covered in the preceding entries Trinity Episcopal had the most colorful construction history.  The church had long occupied the corner 
of Algoma and Light Streets and also owned the the lot behind the church where the the Women's Guild Hall now stands.  Shortly after the new church was finished, in February of 1891 the vestry announced its intention to build a row of flats on the property.  William Waters drew up plans which called for four brick buildings of three floors each.  Each floors' flat would have a parlor, dining room, kitchen, three bedrooms and closets.  The monthly rent for the first floor was to be $8, the second $12 and the top floor for $10 thus making for a tidy income.  A fifth building with a hall for church event and rental space above was also part of the scheme.  The Oshkosh newspapers were enthusiastic supporters of the building project, citing the need for that style of housing and the general up building of the city.  However by May the project was abandoned and there was no reason given. Instead Mr. Waters was asked to plan a rectory for the site.  He drew a modified Queen Anne Style, 50' by 50' fronting on Light Street with verandas on the front and north sides of the house.  In early June there was another development; Capt Bowen offered to sell his house on Church St. for use as the rectory.  It was tempting offer and was accepted by the vestry in mid July.  In 1917 the Women's Guild Hall was built on the lot.  

Perhaps one of the most interesting aspects of Trinity Episcopal Church is its uncanny resemblance to St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Lynchburg Virginia. St. Paul's was designed by prominent Philadelphia architect 
Frank Miles Day.  Architect Day was fourteen years the junior of Mr. Waters and received his early education at home, taught by his father.  In 1883 he graduated from the Towne School of the University of Pennsylvania and then went on to study in England, followed by apprenticeships under two architects.  He distinguished himself in 1885 by winning a prize from the Architectural Association of London.  In 1887 Mr. Day opened his own office in Philadelphia and soon became a sought after architect known for his Ivy League academic buildings and county homes.  Mr. Day was the architect of the Carnegie endowed Madison Public Library on Williamson St.built in 1904; now the Grieg Club. 












The St. Paul commission would have come early in Mr. Day's career for the decision to build the new church wasn't made until 1887 with the edifice being completed in 1895 and the steeple in 1906.  What connection if any Frank Miles Day had to William Waters is unclear.  Mr. Waters was a well established regional architect by the time Day commenced to practice his craft and Waters may have gained Day's notice.  Perhaps members of St. Paul's congregation had seen the exquisite Oshkosh church and asked that it serve as a model for their new structure, both are Episcopal churches.  It is impossible to say what accounts for the similarities but it's undeniable 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Oshkosh Churches, Part Three

In part one of the Churches of Oshkosh  I stated that Mr. Waters designed twelve and one half churches in that city.  That half church was his first religious building of the twentieth century and was more school than church; it was an addition to the First Presbyterian Church at the corner of Church and Division Streets.  The  original structure built in 1893 was designed by W.A. Holbrook an architect who started out in Oshkosh but moved to Milwaukee and partnered with E. T. Mix.   The congregation was growing and by mid May of 1906 a committee announced it's intention to build an addition to hold Sunday school rooms.  William Waters was hired to provide a suitably plan.  The process moved rapidly; bids were accepted and the job was let to J. T. Raycraft and C. R. Meyer who had teamed up for the task.  Architect Waters was careful in his design and material selection in order to produce an addition that was harmonious with the rest of the building.  The addition measured thirty seven feet on Church Street and one hundred fifteen feet on the adjacent wall, holding twenty four class rooms and a kindergarten room.  In the recent past alterations were made but deftly handled  as to be sympathetic with the extant structure. 
The next two churches Waters designed in Oshkosh have an English appearance to them.  Both have short steeples when compared to his churches of the 1870's with their soaring spires.  The walls and towers are buttressed as of old, with Tudor or Gothic arched openings.  In 1908 the First Congregational Church once again sought the services of Waters for the plans of a new church.  The building planned by him in 1873 was only thirty five years old but the congregation needed more space.  As early as July of 1899 there were discussions of a new church or an addition.  Mr. Waters had even drawn plans for such an addition but nothing came of it.  The church seemed ready to proceed in 1908, the thought being to build a new church to the west and remodel the old as social hall and Sunday school,  In July of 1909 a description of the proposed edifice as drawn by Mr. Waters was published.  The building was said to be Gothic in style; 72' x 115' and connected to the old structure by two cloisters, front and back.  The next month saw the notice for sealed bids on the foundation work, with the job going to C. R. Meyer & Sons.  There was yet another notice posted in May of 1910 for the construction of the "superstructure".  Once again C. R. Meyer got the job and the building moved a pace.  By September of 1911 the interior work was nearly finished with the work being done by Mr. Raycraft.  The building remains much as it was with minor alterations; the porte cochere was removed from the west side of the church and the clock no longer grace the steeple.  In the 1960's the old church was razed and replaced by a new hall with class rooms and offices.      
St. John Evangelical Lutheran congregation was formed in September of 1907.  Needing a place to worship a house was purchased at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and Union Street, in 1908 and re-purposed as a chapel.  By 1913 the congregants were ready for a more permanent home and asked William Waters to devise a plan for a new church to be located on the corner of North Main St. and Lincoln Avenue.  Ground was broken in April of 1914, followed in June by the laying of the corner stone.  The first service was held in the basement in December of that year. Work continued on the church for nearly another year, culminating with the dedication on Thanksgiving Day, 1915.     
Mr. Waters employed a building material he was familiar with, rough hewn lime stone.  The design showed an asymmetrical front elevation with a spire less steeple at the right.  The nave had a gabled roof and a large Gothic arched window occupied the front wall, below there was a three arched opening behind which were the front doors.  The design included buttresses at the corners of the nave and steeple as well as between each window along the side walls.  A modern hall and Sunday school stand adjacent to the church which remains as it was constructed.  

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Oshkosh Churches, Part Two

The decade of the eighteen eighties saw the end of the economic recession that had plagued the county for many years.  The Waters' firm was doing great business, getting commissions from all over the state.  Queen Anne and Richardsonian Romanesque were the latest styles in vogue and Waters embraced them wholeheartedly.                                                                     
In August of 1882 there appeared a notice for bids on a church for Welsh Calvinistic Methodists, the bids to be received and the plans viewed a the office of William Waters.  The newspapers didn't pick up on the story again until 1884 with an article on the dedication of the new church.  The description states construction began a year earlier on a Light St. lot which cost $1,200.  The structure itself cost $6,000, so enthusiastic was the congregation that by the time of the dedication half the debt was retired.  The building was in the Queen Anne Style with two entrances on the front elevation above which were a set triplet windows.  The roof was topped this a stout yet elegant steeple.  Inside there was seating for 250 people, the walls were frescoed, windows were of rolled cathedral glass and carpeting throughout.  Movable panels behind the pulpit separated the Sunday School rooms from the church proper.  Also known as the Salem Church, the congregation was active until 1933 when it closed due to declining membership.  The land was sold to the city and became part of the high school campus.    

Also in September of 1882 came word that the Reverend C. Dowidat of Peace Lutheran Church was intent on forming a new congregation and build a new church at Nebraska and Ninth Streets.  William Waters had prepared the drawing for a structure which was to be 42' x 65' with a 16' x 16' x 100' tower at a total cost $5,000.  The following day there was a notice for reception of bids at architect Waters' office.  That was about all the Oshkosh press had to say on the subject.  The church was wooden frame construction in the Queen Anne style and served Grace Lutheran parish until it was replaced in 1933 by a large Lannon stone edifice.
Perhaps one of the most magnificent building ever conceived by Mr. Waters was Trinity Episcopal Church; a paragon of Richardsonian Romanesque design.  The Oshkosh Episcopal community of the mid nineteenth century worshiped at several locations, the main church being Trinity Episcopal a Carpenter Gothic Style building erected in 1857 on the corner of Algoma and Light Streets.  After some time the church wished to consolidated worship in one venue and the satellite chaples were closed.  This relieved the inadequacies of the old church and by April of 1886 there was talk of a new church, the talk vanished by the first part of May, only to reappear by the end of the month.  On June third of 1886 it was announced the the building committee was considering plans drawn by William Waters and adopted them a week later.  Work began almost at once on the lime stone structure that would seat 750 parishioners and work continued for the next three years. Throughout that time the press was devoted to covering the progress of construction, culminating in December of 1889 with a lengthy article on the dedication of the new church.  The church has endured and looks as it did when built save for a new entrance added to the west side of the building.  The addition was done with such care and sensitivity that it appears to be part of the original design   
In December of  1888 the St. John Universalist Church Society was looking to build a house of worship.  It was reported that a lot at the intersection of Union and Church Streets had been purchased and plans for a building prepared by architect Waters.  The next month the papers revealed that work would start in the spring; Queen Anne would be the style and the church was to be 38' x 58' with two front entrances at a total cost of $4,000.  The church was dedicated in November of 1889 and was well attended at first.  By the turn of the twentieth century however the congregation was in financial trouble but managed to limp along until disbanding in 1921.  The building was sold to the Seventh Day Adventists and later became The International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.  The church still serves but  perhaps to avoid frequent and costly exterior painting  the building was covered in maintenance free siding, the effect of which was to obliterate much of the architectural detail and charm.    
Another Waters master work in lime stone was the Algoma Street Methodist Church, a large yet graceful structure built in 1891 trough '92, in the Richardsonian Romanesque Style.  The congregation had been worshiping in a wooden frame building erected in 1872 at the corner of Algoma and James Streets; James would later become New York Avenue. In May of 1885 there were rumors that the church was to build a new bigger house of worship.  Not until January of 1890 was any news made public about plans and in April an advertisement for bids appeared in the local press.  Bids would be received and plans could be viewed at the office of William Waters.  Construction was shortly undertaken by C. R. Meyer Construction Company, a long description was printed in July of 1890 in which it states the outside dimensions to be eighty one and a half feet by eighty feet.  The tower was called out at eighty feet high and was to hold a 1,600 pound bell with accommodations for a clock.  The clock was never installed but there was a drawing of the tower with clock faces.  The new "Temple" was dedicated on June 4th 1892, the building remains much as it was built and has been meticulously maintained over the past century.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Churches of Oshkosh, Part One

A great part of William Waters works were houses of worship. Mr. Waters planned twelve and a half churches in Oshkosh that can be documented. Much of the information here in is taken from newspaper accounts. The Oshkosh press always gave more space and detail to projects north of the river and the same held true for religious structures.
One of the first commissions the young architect received upon arriving in Oshkosh was from The Society of St. Peter. The group had outgrown the wooden frame building it occupied on High Street and sought plans from Mr. Waters. In June of 1867 an appeal for sealed bids appeared in the newspaper. The plans called for a frame structure with a brick veneer, 90' x 50'. Later news accounts clam that work had commenced with the laying of a foundation, 63' x 115', then work stalled for several years. It was not until June of 1874 and the arrival of Fr. O'Malley that things got started again with a proposal to receive bids. A newspapers' description in March of 1875 stated that the church would be built that coming season in the French Gothic Style, measuring 112' x 60'; 36' to the eves and 60' to the top of the roof. It was to be a frame structure clad with brick with a steeple 176' tall. Some work was done and by October of that year the old church was abandoned and the parishioners worshiped in the newly completed basement. Once again work stopped, not to resume until July of 1878 when bids were let for the stone and brick work.
After the frequent and devastating fires the city decreed that public building should be built solely of brick or stone. Not until January of 1880 was the church all but finished and the dedication followed , at long last in May. The building served for many years but by the 1950's it looked old and used; years of steam locomotive and factory shoot had sullied the brick, the souring steeple was replaced with a shorter, easier maintained roof. The old church was demolished in 1953 but holds a special place in my heart because I was baptized there, although I recall nothing of the event.
The Katolishers on the south side fared far better than their brethren to the north, by April of 1868 the as yet to be completed church of the Immaculate Conception held its first service. The newspapers gave little coverage to the new south side Catholic Church but to say the ground plan was 98' x 50' and the tower measured 18' x 18'. The structure was probably wooden frame with a brick veneer and was perhaps commissioned at about the same time as St. Peter's Church. The church was not Gothic in style but exhibited Roman arches in the window and front entrance. Buttresses enforced the corners of the nave and the tower as well as the side wall between each of the seven widows. In August of 1868 Fr. Marco became pastor and a month later the name was changed to St. Vincent de Paul. A handsome rectory and school were subsequently constructed. As the years past the church became crowed and out of date the once tall steeple was abbreviated, no doubt for maintenance reasons. The shorter tower gave the church an odd look and by 1914 the congregation replace the old church altogether with an immense new church.
In May of 1872 an advertisement for bids appeared in the newspaper for the brick work on the new Second Methodist Episcopal Church on Minnesota Street. The plans could be viewed and bids were accepted at the office of William Waters. The frame structure was complete and services had been held in the basement of the new building. That was about all the Oshkosh press had to say on the subject, no description of style or size. The building was of no particular style to speak of; the front door had a roman arched opening, above it a set of triplet windows and above them a small round window. The windows on the ground floor were in pairs with jack-arch lintels, on the floor above were paired window too but with roman arches. The very top of the steeple was covered with shingles and had a very English look about it. The Methodist continued to worship there until 1918 when they combined with two other congregations to form the Tenth Street Methodist Church. The building was sold to the First Evangelical and Reformed Church and remained their house of worship well into the 1950's. Although the building still stands as of this writing it no longer serves as a church and is in bad repair.

In 1871 The First Congregational Church occupied a fine if not dated Greek revival style building on Algoma and Bond Streets. In 1872 that building went up in flames and William Waters got the job of planning a replacement; a preliminary front elevation from the archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum appears below.
The new church was to be patterned after the First Congregational Church in Janesville and indeed there were similarities between the two. Work started in 1873 and the building was described as being Gothic in style, measuring 60' x 115' and a steeple to tower to a height of 160'. The newspapers followed the progress of construction meticulously throughout the year and the coverage ended with a long article in November when the church nearly finished.
The building was replaced as the church in 1911 by another Waters designed structure which will be the subject of a later post. The old church continued to serve as the fellowship hall until the 1960's when it was demolished and a modern hall was built in its' stead. By the time it was removed it looked vary shabby; discolored by years of soot and the removal of the towering spire all add to its' dilapidated appearance.
The long history of the Episcopal Church is well documented and Mr. Waters played a sizable roll in it. In the mid 1870's Trinity Episcopal served the needs of the faithful in central 

Oshkosh; on the south side there was Grace Chapel at Minnesota and Eleventh Streets on the east, Kemper Mission on Winnebago St. near Bowen and the north side St. Paul's Chapel, located on the corner of Melvin and Jefferson Streets.  The first St. Paul's Chapel was built in 1872 but was destroyed by fire in 1874,  A new St Paul's was designed by Mr. Waters and the press wrote of the first service held there in October of 1875; that it was well attended and praised the decor and windows as being in good taste, credit architect Waters.  That building was left in ruins by the cyclone of 1885 and replaced by another Waters designed chapel.  As transportation improved in the city the three satellite churches were closed so as to consolidate worship in one venue. There were those who felt the need for another church however and in 1909 Christ Episcopal Church was built on Jackson Street just north of Irving Avenue. The building that was St. Paul's was moved to the new church site and became the guild hall and parlor. Christ Church couldn't make a go of it and the property was taken over in 1917 by Martin Luther Evangelical Church which remained there until building a new structure on Algoma Blvd. The old St. Paul's is still there, used now as housing and looking shabby and in bad repair.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

School Buildings of Appleton

William Waters' buildings were familiar in many cities other than Oshkosh and Appleton was one place where his work was abundant. In addition to residential, religious and commercial structures Mr. Waters planned several schools in the city. The Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley, published in 1898 credits architect Waters with four schools in Appleton. There is no doubt the First and Third Ward Schools came from Mr. Waters' drawing board for he's been listed as architect by authorities at the Appleton Public Library. His obituary lists the Second and Third Ward Schools as being of his design but I believe the obituary is in error.
Consider the two schools known to have been the work of William Waters; the First Ward was built in 1881 with additions in 1885 and '89. The school was of a light colored brick with darker contrasting bands and lintel accents. It had a bell tower at one corner of the structure and arched entrance and is rendered here with the 1885 addition. The building has long since been demolished.
The Third Ward School was built in 1884 and had a Mansard like roof with large windowed dormers providing another floor for class rooms. There was central bell tower with four clock faces atop it and an arched entry below. The brick work was of a light hue with contrasting bands around the structure. The building was used as a grade school as well as a high school and was later known as Jefferson School. This building too was razed.
What of the Second Ward School as mentioned in Mr. Waters' obituary  An Appleton Public Library image of the Italianate Style school is noted as having been constructed in 1856. If that is true the building could not have been designed by Mr.Waters because he was 13 years old and living in Franklin, New York. Also it is stylistically unlike other Italianate school building of his design; therefore it is doubtful that it's of Waters' hand.  Ryan High School   located in the second ward and sometimes referred to as the Second Ward School was the work of Charles Hove.

One may conclude for a certainty that William Waters planned the First and Third Ward Schools. But what were the two other schools mentioned in the 1898 biographical record? It's not the Sixth Ward School, credit for that goes to architect Philip Dean; the Fifth Ward and Lincoln Schools were not stylistically like other Waters' jobs. The Forth Ward might have been a Waters' job but there's no hard evidence to prove that. Perhaps it was St. Mary's or St. Joseph's schools. Mr. Waters was the architect of St. Joseph Church and may have been asked to plan the school too. For now it will remain a mystery.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Neenah Residences, Part Three

The cities of Neenah and Menasha are very different from one another, there always been the perception of Neenah as the affluent city and Menasha as a mill town. Doty Island is shared by both cities with the boarder being Nicolet Blvd. A few blocks south is East Forest Avenue and the neighborhood known as "The Menasha Colony". Here many of the well to do Menasha mill owners built grand homes, close to the mills of Menasha and to wealthy of Neenah. The best of both worlds perhaps.
In 1873 Miles H. Wheeler built an Italianate Style dwelling on the south east corner of East Forest Avenue and Webster Street. Mr. Wheeler was a lumberman; perhaps that meant a dealer or wholesaler. The occupation did well for him as he was able to retain the services of William Waters to plan his house. It was a simple design with no tower, belvidere or large porch. The lay out was similar to that of the William Doe Residence in Oshkosh. The structure was razed many years ago.
At the other end of the block, to the east was the home of Ellis Jennings. Mr Jennings was at first associated with the Paul Paper Company, which proved to be a short lived proposition for he soon partnered with M. H. Wheeler in the lumber trade. In 1893 architect Waters planed a fine Queen Anne Style house which still graces East Forest Avenue. The building has been well maintained and has had no major alterations.
In 1885 Mr. Waters designed a large brick Queen Anne Style home for a builder/contractor named David Barns. In 1910 Frank B. Whiting purchased the place and had a sizable addition built on the back side of the structure. The house remained unaltered until the 1960's when it was "up dated". A new front porch, incongruous with with the Queen Anne Style replaced the original along with other changes. Recently the building was restored to its 1885 appearance.
Frank Whiting's father George also lived on East Forest Avenue. The elder Mr. Whiting came to Neenah in 1875 and joined with William Gilbert, forming the Whiting & Gilbert Paper Company. By 1886 Whiting bought his associate's interest and later incorporated as George A. Whiting Paper Co. Mr. Whiting had been living on East Forest Avenue for many years, when in 1897 he commissioned William Waters to design large home. The old house was razed and beautiful mansion built in its place. Architect Waters was fond of using limestone in many of his buildings but with the Whiting house the foundation and first story were of brownstone from quarries near Bayfield. George's grandson inherited the house but felt burdened by maintenance and demolished the structure in 1957.
Henry Spencer Smith was the second of two sons of Elisha Smith founder of Menasha Wooden Ware Company, later known as The Menasha Corporation. Henry served as an officer and executive of the company and in 1892 commissioned William Waters to design a fashionable new dwelling to be located on East Forest Avenue. The architect mixed Queen Anne and Shingle Style to produce a pleasing edifice. At some time the building was greatly enlarged with the addition of a third floor to the tower and expansion on the north and east sides of the house.
Another Menasha mill owner to build on East Forest Avenue was Albert C. Gilbert, son of William M. Gilbert. In 1903 Mr. Gilbert asked William Waters to draft plans for a new house. Mr. Waters conceived a magnificent mansion with a large front porch and corner tower. It is difficult to pin point a style for this house. As with many homes, after twenty years or so someone gets the urge to remodel. Perhaps in the mid 1920's the front porch was removed as well as the dormers at the front and center of the roof.
Not a wealthy mill owner, Perry Lindsley was a commercial traveler or salesman if you will. In 1893 Mr. Lindsley hired Waters to plan his dwelling. What came from the drawing board was a modestly sized Shingle Style, looking like an enchanted cottage. The roof had two dormers; a large on to the left and smaller one the right. Entry to the front porch was gain through an arched opening situated next to a larger aperture to the right. The house has endured the years with a few alterations but look much as it did when built.
George Banta Sr. also had a house from the Waters' firm. This Menasha industrialist built not in Neenah but on Nuymut Street in Menasha. His 1883 brick Queen Anne Style was adorned with a capacious front porch and side porches on both the first and second floor. Over the years the house had fallen in disrepair but has recently regained its splendor with a total renovation.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Neenah Residences. Part Two

William Water continued to receive commissions from Neenahites for residences and East Wisconsin Avenue remained a popular street on which to build. Mr. Waters had made many connections and a solid reputation for himself, bringing him even more work. Charles Babcock a relative of an earlier client H. Babcock asked the architect in 1900 to design him a dwelling. Charles was an executive with the Plover Pulp & Paper Company and Wisconsin River Paper. The house was in the English Cottage Style and was similar to the R. P. Finny residence in Oshkosh. It still stands but no longer on East Wisconsin Avenue, having been move to a lot near the corner of Congress and Stone Streets. Some alterations have been made, such as the enclosing of the front porch and the addition of an oriel window in the kitchen.

Another Waters designed residence on East Wisconsin Avenue was that of William Z. Stuart an executive with Kimberley Clack. The Stuart house was built in 1890 as a wedding gift from John A. Kimberley to his daughter Helen. The house was stylistically like that of Charles Babcock but on a grander scale. Like the Babcock house it too was moved from Wisconsin Avenue to a lot on Elm Street where it remains to this day. After its relocation an expanded front porch as added, other than that the house looks as it did when constructed.
Godfrey Ulrich also hired Mr. Waters as his architect. Mr. Ulrich was a partner in the Ulrich & Cunningham Meat Market, later to become Godfrey Ulrich Meats. The business thrived and he was able to build a handsome dwelling on the "Avenue". The house has endured the years and remains much as it was in 1900 when built.
Yet another client of architect Waters was Fred Elwers. Mr. Elwers had partnered with Mrs. F. J. Kimberley in the Kimberley & Elwers Drug Store. The store carried a full line of wall paper, window shades and paint as well as pure drugs. Late the business became Fred Elwers Drugs & Paint. The enterprise must have been successful as Mr. Elwers built a large attractive home on East Wisconsin. The house is still there but changed from what it was. Perhaps sometime in the 1960's in an attempt to update the structure, six inch wide siding replaced the original three inch wide covering and much of the Victorian detail went with it.
The Bergstrom brothers; George and Dedrick were young aggressive and savvy businessmen when in 1878 they joined with H. V. Babcock to purchase the Smith, Van Ostrand and Leavens Foundry, becoming Bergstrom Brothers & Company, makers of plows and stoves. George bought out his partners in 1904 and continued to operate the stove works. Dedrick and his son John acquired the Winnebago Paper Company which became Bergstrom Paper.
The brothers turned to architect Waters for their housing needs. Dedrick built a fine Queen Anne Style house in 1893 on the corner Sherry and Church Streets on the west side of Neenah, aka Sherry Town. The next year George constructed a large dwelling on East Wisconsin Avenue or Park Row as it was sometimes called. The house was a mix of Shingle Style and Queen Anne.
As for Dedrick's house; it continued as a family dwelling as his daughter lived there for many years but it was demolished to accommodate the building of the new Post Office. The house that George built fared much better; although altered many years ago, a recent renovation has restored its glory.