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.