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 

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