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.