Friday, December 13, 2013

Kimberly Hotel

By the mid 1880's Kimberley Clark had become the largest paper maker in the mid west and in 1889 the company wished to expand its' newsprint production.  To that end the company purchased some farmland and the water power rights at a place known as the Ciders, three miles to the east of  Appleton, the site of an earlier treaty signing.  The Mill was designed by Ashley B. Tower of Holyoke Massachusetts, a man dubbed by John A. Kimberly as the "prince of paper mill architects".  Along with the mill, Kimberly Clark built sixty houses and a hotel; and for the latter they turned to Wisconsin architectural royalty and hired William Waters to design the building.  Mr. Waters had establish himself with the company with the design of their Neenah office building in 1880 as well as dwelling for three of the four founders.  There was only one press mention of Waters' connection to the hotel and that was in an article published in 1891 which included a litany of his accomplishments.   The hotel was a boarding house of sorts for mill workers and travels.  It was located on Main Street just southwest of the mill and was adjacent to a large dinning hall.  The structure looked like a large Queen Anne Style house with a porch along the front and north side and a plethora of windows, the attic floor had many dormers and windows as well.   
For twenty four years the hotels' service was uninterrupted unit the night of March 6, 1913 when a fire burned off most of the third floor.  By the light of day the damage was accessed, the building was not deemed a total loss and plans were under taken to rebuild.  In the booklet "Kimberly-A Village With A Future", published after the fire there appeared this "...a general overhauling took place, resulting in rebuilding and equipping same according to the prevailing idea of safety, convenience, comfort and sanitation, the likes of which few villages in the country can boast of."  The hotel continued to serve for many years to follow.
It is likely that Mr. Waters was the architect for the rebuilding.  From the the outside very little changed after the conflagration, a new dormer replace the three that once occupied the north side of the attic.  What is unclear is what changes occurred on the south elevation of the building as I found no images of that side.
My research was greatly aided by the website and friendly staff of the Kimberly / Little Chute Public Library. Still and all there was not much information as to the buildings' longevity, no date when it was razed.  There is now a parking lot where the hotel stood.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Appletons' Hotels

The city of Appleton was a fast growing center for population, manufacturing and commerce; and in 1892 had fourteen hotels.  The rich farmland of Outagamie county brought many farmers to town to sell their produce. Often these business trips required an over night stay in the city and so was conceived the Farmers' Hotel.  The building was listed in both the 1978 and 1989 architectural surveys of the city and William Waters credited as architect but no date of construction was given.  The building was most likely erected in the early 1880's and was located on West College Avenue.  The empty lot just east of the hotel served as a stock yard for animals awaiting sale.  J. J. Young was the proprietor and by the late 1880's  had change the name to The Commercial Hotel so as to appeal to the commercial travelers.  Eventually the hotel ceased to be and the building was converted to retail use.  An enclosed stairway was added to the east side of the structure using an architectural style compatible with the rest the the building.  The building is still there and looks much as it did one twenty hundred years ago.          
The story of Mr. Waters next Appleton hotel starts January of 1886, an article appeared the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, under the head line"ANOTHER NEW HOTEL. Architect Waters Designing a $10,000 Building."  The story says that Waters was drawing plans and a group from Appleton was in town to view them.  It goes on to say that the building was to be brick, three stories high and to be of an architectural style in keeping with the city's other principle business streets.  The hotel was to have thirty rooms and located on the corner of Oneida and Washington Streets, just a block north of College Avenue.  The write-up also says "... the building will be, if the plans are carried out, a remarkably neat, convenient and attractive building."  
And so it was.  The hotel was of a light colored brick with bands of darker contrasting brick.  At the corner was a turret which rose from the third floor past the cornice and was capped with a dome like roof.  At the center of the front elevation was an arched entrance flanked by identical openings.  Above the front door was a set of triplet windows and above that two more windows.  Crowning it all was a pediment with scrolls, finials and the words "Sherman House" just below.  On the Washington Street side was a side door and nonconforming windows, perhaps to accommodate a stairway within.  The hotel was not without its' critics and the people acquainted with the Waverly House, Appleton venerable first class hotel, were inclined to wonder what was wanted of another new hotel in the city.
The Sherman House was a great success and in May of 1888 the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern broke the news that  Mr. Waters was preparing plans for an addition to the hotel.  Over the years there were several addition to the building and other changes as well.  By 1900 it occupied the better part of the block upon which it stood.   A fire escape was added to the Washington Street side and an ornate canopy sheltered the front door.  Retail space was available in the new additions to improve income revenue.  In the 1920's it became the Conway Hotel and a four story addition was erected behind the original structure, by the 1960's the hotel was known as the Conway Motor Inn and the 19th century buildings were replace with a new modern edifice.      

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Hotel Menasha

For over thirty years the finest accommodation to be found in Menasha were those of the National Hotel on the corner of Main and Mill Streets.  The National Hotel burned in 1901, leaving the business district with only three hostelries for travelers.  By late 1902 the Menasha Hotel Association was formed to insure a new hotel was built.  Two of the groups prime movers were brothers, Charles and Henry Smith and they wanted a first class establishment for the city.   The association met in February of 1903 and of all the proposals before them, accepted the plans submitted by William Waters.  There was a notice the next month for contractors to submit sealed bids and it looked as if things were off to a good start, however in May, Miss Elizabeth Smith the aunt of Charles and Henry, passed away.  This seemed to bring progress to a halt as no action was taken until 1905 when a long last the bids were to be opened.  The headline in the paper spoke of merchants and mill men pushing for the projects completion. The city council even promised five years of tax relief.  The bids were opened by Chris Walter the brewer and William Waters the architect.  Mr. Walter was the largest investor in the enterprise and would own the land and the building, leasing the hotel to a suitable operator. 
The building was to occupy the site of the old National Hotel, measuring 60' x 105', three stories high and built of pressed brick with limestone foundation and trim.  On the first floor there was a kitchen, dining room, parlor, office and a bar room.  Thirty eight sleeping rooms occupied the floors above.  With the turn of the twentieth century architect Waters used more classical elements in his designs.  The hotel sat upon a high limestone foundation and the first floor alternated bands of limestone with brick.  The fenestration was regular with the window on the first and second floors capped with segmented jack arch lintel of limestone with oversize keystones. The front entrance was on Main Street and covered by stone porch and balcony above.  Next to the front door was another entry perhaps to the bar room. On the east side of the building at street level was the Ladies entrance which was covered by a canopy supported by chains anchored to the wall.  Separating the first floor from the others was a band of limestone and quoins extended from that band to cornice near the top of the structure. The hotel was very successful and by the summer of 1911 an addition was erected, doubling the size the hotel.  The building has changed over the years: gone are the porch and front entrance as well as the entry to the bar, gone too is the canopy at the side door.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Roberts Resort

The cities around Lake Winnebago emerged as centers of commerce and population because of good water transportation, add to that the introduction of the railroads and the area flourished.  By the late 1800's the communities near the lake began to exploit the lake as an attraction for summer tourists.  Fishing and sailing lured many to the lake.  In May of 1877 John Roberts was about to open his new resort hotel on Neenahs' Doty Island, so stated a feature in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of the 21st of that month.  The reporter paid a visit to the hotel and gave it a glowing review "The hotel is a building of the latest architectural design, and does great credit to the architect, Wm. Waters of Oshkosh."  The resort occupied the former farm of Governor Doty, on the island near the mouth of the Fox River; and commanded a view of the lake, Riverside Park and Neenah harbor.  The hotel was a two story wooden structure, 43' x 68' of 35 rooms, with a veranda across the front and one side and a balcony above the front entry.  On the first floor was an office, parlor, dinning room and several bedrooms.  Upstairs were suites and bedrooms with hot and cold baths and modern sanitary arrangements.  The interior was said to be well finished and elegantly furnished.  The hotel was erected adjacent to Governor Doty's log cabin which was to be used as servants quarters or a rainy day place, billiard hall and gentleman's smoking room. 
Mr. Roberts was born in 1833 in Oneida county New York.  He stared in the hotel business with a lodging in Schenectady and 1858 went to New York City until 1862 and then on to Newark, Ohio.  In 1866 he and his wife Martha moved to Columbus Wisconsin; and from there to Menasha to run the National Hotel; and in dew time he built his resort.  The business did very well in attracting pleasure seeker, so well in fact that three guest cottages were built on the grounds in 1881.  For what ever reason the property was sold in 1905 to John Strange who remodeled the hotel as his home.  He donated Doty Cabin to the city in 1923 and had it moved to the park just west of his property.  John Strange was the president of the several companies and was elected Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, serving from 1909 to 1911, all the time residing in the former hotel.  The property remain with the Strange family until 1965 when it was sold, subdivided and the old resort was razed.

Monday, October 21, 2013

The Athearn Hotel

William Waters was the architect of many hotels, in Oshkosh he drew the plans for the Beckwith House and the Tremont House both built after the great fire of 1875, he also planned hotels in other cities.  His grandest lodging structure was the Athearn Hotel, which was built in 1890.  In 1886 there were twenty two hotels listed in the city directory, with twelve on the north side and the rest south of the river.  The Revere House near the river and the Tremont were perhaps the best accommodations to be had in town.  With the loss of the Beckwith House in December of 1880 there was need of a first class hotel in the city.  In February of 1886 George Athearn started to drum up investors for a new Oshkosh hotel.  He had drawings done up by Mr. Waters for a fine five story building with a mansard roof, to be built on Algoma Street, which he exhibited to potential investors around town and as far away as Milwaukee.
George Athearn was born in Maine in 1846 and had spent a year in Oshkosh in 1862 visiting his half brothers, with the intention of going to school there.  He did not attend school but returned to Maine and joined the cavalry. After the war he married and in 1866 moved to Winnebago County Wisconsin and took up farming 170 acres near Oshkosh.  He engaged in a number of profitable business ventures and in 1881 got into the hotel business, most notably the Revere House.  In 1886 Mr. Athearn was intent on building a fine new hotel, finding capitalists willing to finance the undertaking was not an easy task and the fervor for the
enterprise cooled.  The project again got hot in 1889 with press accounts of commercial travelers unable to find lodging.  Architect Waters had prepared another sketch, the block at High and Division Streets was picked as the location; and Mr. Athearn was again chasing money.  Better luck attended this effort, it was now a matter of civic pride that the second largest city in the state should have a first class hotel.  That summer the Oshkosh Hotel Company was formed and share were sold, its investors read as list of the industrial and commercial captains of the city. A meeting was held and a board of directors was chosen, the site was acquired; and by October demolition of the existing building was under weigh.  With the clearing of the lot work immediately began on the foundation and basement.   
On November 19, 1889 the Oshkosh Times published a lengthy article accompanied by the drawing seen here, and described in detail the building, it's size and layout. It is noteworthy that the drawing by J. P. Jensen is not what was built.  In the sketch there are three pediments along the Division Street elevation, however as built there were but two pediments on that side.  Also there were two sets of triplet windows drawn on the forth floor when actually there were no triplet window on that floor.  The north elevation differs as well, with one large pediment at the center of the wall.  The story goes on to say that the building was to be the in the Romanesque style and built of red pressed brick with a limestone foundation and trim.  It was to be eighty feet on High Street, one hundred fifty feet along Division Street, one hundred twenty feet on Market Street and one hundred sixty feet along the alley.  The hotel was four stories high with ceilings of 16' on the first floor, 12' feet on the second and 11' on the third, forth and basement floors.  Second floor rooms were to be suites measuring 15' x 18' with fireplace, bath and water closets.  There were also three meeting rooms on the second floor, 16' x 30' in size.  Guest rooms on the third and forth floors and were equipped with baths and a fireplace of oak.  Further it was to have electric lights and steam heat.  The main entrance was on Division Street some four feet above street level and cover by a porch, the Ladies entrance was at street level on High Street.  The cost of the hotel was estimated to be between $100.000 and 125.000. George Athearn and Son were to lease the building and operate it.

Construction commenced on February 15,1890 by contractors Williamson and Meyer.  The work progressed quickly and the building was hailed all round as much need addition to the city.  In July of 1890 the Appleton Post Crescent printed a story which claimed the building was being poorly built, with but 12" walls on the first floor.  The paper called upon the Oshkosh press to deny these rumors and stop the mouths of the commercial travelers, George Athearn, William Waters and C. R. Meyer all denounced the story and dismissed it as rubbish.  By early 1891 the hotel was very nearly finished and the Oshkosh Hotel Company was to vote on a name. Some ideas were The Arion, Athaern, St. George and others.  The result of the vote was to name it The Colombia, no doubt in honor of the 400th anniversary of  America's discovery.  George Athearn and his son George Jr. occupied the hotel as its managers on May the first of 1891 and immediately began to call it The Athaern Hotel.  The hotel was a great success and required a forty room addition in 1909.  The hotel remained a fixture in the Oshkosh business district until 1964 when it was razed, making way for a new bank.  It would seem that the real estate upon which it stood was worth more than its presents and history.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Neenah City Hall

By the late 1880's Neenah had become a wealthy and progressive city.  An ostentation of mansions lined some city streets and it could also boast of many fine schools and commercial structures.  The city needed a suitable building from which it might conduct its' business.  Menasha had built a hall in 1885 and so it was resolved that Neenah should build too and go Menasha one better.  In August of 1888 the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern noted the visit of Neenahs' Mayor and six aldermen to the office of William Waters to view the plans he proposed for the new city hall.  Not long after that visit a rare Saturday night council meeting was held in order to decide whose plans were to be used, either those of William Waters or Appleton architect Charles Hove.  A lengthy and spirited discussion was joined with Alderman William Hesse delivering an effective and eloquent speech.  The vote, taken at 11:00 PM ended in a tie with Mayor Arneman deciding in favor of Mr. Waters' design.    
The hall was to house city offices as well as the fire, police departments and was to be located on the corner of Doty and Ceder Streets.  (Ceder St. was renamed South Commercial St.)  By late October of 1889 the building was finished.  The high foundation was limestone as were the arches that formed the openings on the ground floor, the remainder of the building was a cream colored brick with bands of limestone accents.  The arches gave first floor of the structure a Romanesque feel but the rest of the building was Queen Anne in style with a tower of 135 feet, replete with four clock dials and a large bell to toll the hour.  The fire and police departments occupied the first floor with an equipment deck for fire apparatus, horse stalls, hay storage and hose drying tower fulfilling the fire department needs.  The police department was accommodated with jail cells and an office, below all of this were two boilers capable of heating the entire building.  Access to the upper floors was gained by way of the arches at the base of the tower which opened on to a broad stairway that lead to a landing and vestibule, twenty feet square from which were accessed the city treasures' and clerks' offices.  These offices measured 18' x 30' and had double vaults.  Also off this vestibule was the council chamber, 30' x 40' and a 12' x 12' committee room.  On the floor above was the "Firemen's Room" intended for meeting or parties and measured 38' x 60' with a dais.  The total cost of the project, including the purchase of land was $30.000.        
Over the buildings' many years of service changes were made; the arched openings for the fire trucks were enlarged and other entrances were alter as well.  By 1975 the hall was decrepit and  inadequate for city use but Neenah couldn't part entirely with the old building; all but the bell tower was demolished.  It was reinforced, windows bricked up, cleaned and remains part of the charm of Neenah.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Opera Houses of William Waters

This post will continue the study of commercial building but more to the point, opera houses.  One of the most important commercial structures of the late nineteenth century was a large public hall.  They may have been called opera house or hall and they were vital to the community as they were a place for plays, recitals, lectures or other large public gatherings.  Most every town of consequence had an opera house.    
One of William Waters' earliest commissions came in 1867 for an opera house financed by Mr. R. L. Harding, to be located in Oshkosh, on the east side of Main Street just north of Washington Street.  This seemed to be a good location in as much as the Harding Opera house was replacing Washington Hall which once stood on the corner of Main and Washington.  The newspapers covered with great anticipation the laying of the foundation and reported that the building was to be 45' x 100' and one hundred feet high with the first floor 72' high and the second, thirty feet high, later accounts give the dimensions as 54' x 100' x 54' feet high.   Progress was slow because Mr. Harding was under-capitalized and work stopped for lack of funds.  Costruction resumed in earnest in 1870 and the building was finished in 1872.  But the fire of July 1874 reduced the place to a ruin, with most of the south wall standing but just the first floor of the front and a chimney from the north wall.   There were no images of the building before the fire but it's clear there was a central arch serving as the entrance to the hall, flanked by stores.  After the conflagration another opera house, the Fraker took its place but it was not of Waters' design.  
Just up the street was the Wagner Opera House which also housed Mr. Wagner's grocery store and residence, it too fell to the flames of July 14th 1874.  William Wagner decided to rebuild and turned to architect Waters for the design, which was a three story colossus with commercial space on the first floor, a central entry and an almost tower like cupola. Once completed Mr. Wagner got out of  the opera house business, sold the building to the First Methodist Episcopal Church and left town.  The Methodist remained there until the 1960's and then moved on, it then became the Boy's and Girl's Club. There were a few changes over the years; larger window along the south wall, a modern entry and the biggest change, a new roof.  The cupola which had long dominated the Oshkosh skyline was gone along with the pediment just below it. The building is still in use today. 
In 1881 Mr. Waters designed the Ripon High School.  Ever the savvy business man he made the acquaintance of T. D. Stone the publisher of the Ripon Free Press and lo and behold Mr. Waters received a commission for an opera house financed by Mr. Stone and others.  The building was located on Watson Street, on the square, the heart of the business district. The structure was three stories high with a two story annex, so there were three stores which could be rented. The lay out was similar to that of Dichmann's Hall on Washington Street in Oshkosh, with two store fronts and an entrance to the upper floor to the right.  The building was a light colored brick with bands and accents of contrasting dark brick.  A brick work cornice topped the structure.  Mr. Stone must have liked the work done by architect Waters, as he also designed a house for Stone in 1890.  The opera house burned in 1906 and eventually a large bank replaced it.  That same year Waters planed and supervised the remodeling of the former Bertschy Hall in Appleton.  Dr. Emil A. Erb purchased the venue with the thought of giving that city a first class opera house. The December 8 opening night audience of about 800 witnessed a performance of the opera "Patience", rendered by the Chicago Church Choir Company.  The Milwaukee Sentinel lauded Appleton for having an opera house unequaled by any interior city of Wisconsin.     
Perhaps one of William Waters finest structures was the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh. The design was a new departure for Mr. Water as far as opera house were concerned,  there were no ancillary commercial spaces to boost the landlords revenue, the building was to be only an opera house and a first class one at that.  Talk of a new opera house began in 1880, there being some discontent with Fraker Hall.  The first Methodist Church had a scheme as did H. B. Jackson as well as Robert Campbell, the latter propose building on his empty lot next to the Masonic Temple on Algoma.  By 1882 the Oshkosh Opera House Association was formed and shares sold, even William Waters was a shareholder.  A lot on the corner of Market and High Streets was purchased from Mr. Jackson and the plans of architect Waters adopted.  Built of a cream colored brick, there were dark brick bands, lintel accents and the front gable featured a windowpane check pattern. At the roof line was a brickwork cornice.  On August 4,1883 the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern published a lengthy article on all aspects of the new opera house and on August 9 the theater opened with a production of "The Bohemian Girl".  The stage was then to host many great performances.  In 1918 the theater was sold to W. G. Maxcy and W. D. Cummings and maintained it as a vaudeville house named the Granada.  Some needed improvements came about 1928.  It changed hands once again in 1948, when purchased by Sol Winoker.   Renamed the Civic Theater and reopened as a movie house.  Two years later Frank Bluhm and Mary Vetter bought the place remodeling the front by moving the entrance to the corner of building, adding a large marquee dubbing it the "Grand Theater" and showing second run "B" films.  Yet another pair: F. J. Hauser and L. L. Cook acquired the building in 1969 replacing the roof and furnace, also exhibited "X" rated movies.  Hauser leased the building in the mid 1970's to Bill Seaton and Maurice Goldy who under took some minor restoration but citizen concern over the continued deterioration of the building  prompted the formation of the "Save the Grand" committee.  After clearing many obstacles, work was begun in October of 1982 with the removal of the marquee.  Four years later the opera house reopened with a production of "The Bohemian Girl".  In 2009 flaws discovered in the roof truss necessitated the closing of the opera house and another restoration, lasting until September of 2010 after which the opera house opened once again.     
The Concordia Musical Society was founded in Watertown Wisconsin 1862 by German immigrants and over the year did much to promote music in that city.  Watertown is situated on the Rock River, 63 mile south of Oshkosh.  In 1875 the group purchased an island in the river just below the damn and named Concordia Island, built a pavilion to perform in and added other amenities.  It was the place to go for summer amusement and music in Watertown.  In 1888 the group built its very own opera house using the plans provided by William Waters, again Waters added no commercial space, it was built strictly as an opera house.  The front elevation had two entrances at the right and left and just above and between them was large bay window.  Near the top of the building was a row of nine small window, five in the center and two each at the corners.  The brick was a light hew with dark courses adding visual interest, two chimneys towered over each side of the theater.  The theater got a great deal of use housing both a movie theater and vaudeville house in the early part of the twentieth century.  In 1916 the Elks Lodge purchased the building and greatly altered it. The entry was change and some widows add and some bricked up, about the only thing which remained the same was the roof.  The building is still used by the Elks  Lodge.  
The Grand Theater in New London, built in 1892 very closely resembles the Grand Opera House in Oshkosh. The main body of the New London building is a pale yellow brick but unlike his other opera houses this time architect Waters chose a red brick as an accent for the lintels and bands.  They share a similar history as well;  Messrs. J. C. Hickley and George E. Lutsey partnered to built the opera house in 1892, according to a 1917 history of New London.  One account places opening night as February 19, 1895 with a production of "Lost Paradise".   Mr. Lutsey became sole proprietor in 1916, continuing to operated it as a vaudeville house and later transitioned to a movie house.  At some time,  perhaps in the late 40's or early 50's the lower portion of the front was remodeled, the entrance changed, windows bricked up and a coat of green paint applied.  Late in the 1990's a groups formed called "Friends of the Grand" that partnered with Rogers Cinema to purchase the building and restore it.  Rogers Cinema remodeled the interior to accommodate four screens and the exterior was restored to its former beauty.      
Waupacas' Danes' Home was organized as a social group in 1877.  With the construction of a new courthouse in 1881 the society bought the old one and transformed it to their use.  In 1904 the Danes Home Society wished for an opera house and acquired plans from William Waters.  The hall was to be built adjacent to the "Home" and extend up the hill with a width of 55' and length of 90'.  The auditorium was to seat 625 with box seats and second floor balcony.  The proscenium was 28' wide by 20' high with the stage behind being 32' x 55'.  The brick used on the exterior was a light cream color with the bands and accents of red brick.   On the front, in the foundation were two sets of triplet windows and at the diagonal which turned the corner was an entrance to the basement above which rose a three story tower.  On the first floor of the front elevation were sets of ached topped triplet windows and above those, two large arched windows.  The main entry was on the side, up the hill near the back of the structure.  The building was never altered but has not been fully restored and appears much as it did one hundred years ago.  It now serves as an antique shop.
 P. S.   I just found an old photo of the New London Grand before renovation.  ...Not so grand!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

After the Great Fire, Part Five

The area near the intersection of Algoma and Main and Washington was hot real estate, no pun intended.  The entire block east of Main Street and south of Washington Street was the heart of the business district.  
The corner on Waugoo and Shonaon Streets was to be the location of the new Tremont House.  Proprietor Joseph Staudenraus had commissioned William Waters to plan his new hotel; it would be three stories high and hold forty guest rooms.  Seventy feet was to front on Waugoo Street and eighty on Shonaon, there was a stable as well.  Mr. Staudenraus' hotel was designed to appeal the commercial traveler or traveling salesman.  On the first floor were the offices parlor, sitting and dining rooms as well as rooms where a sales man could display his wares to prospective customers.  The guest rooms also included a sitting room outfitted with carpet, sofa and easy chair for family use.  Over the years the place lost its luster as it became a low rent residence hotel, renamed the Star.  It was razed to make way for a drive through bank and parking lot.  
Over on Washington Street just opposite the new Post Office, Killian Dichman and son William built a concert and amusement hall as designed by William Waters.  The first floor was occupied by two shops; Hellard's News Stand and Kitty Neis' Millinery.  A lager hall and ancillary rooms made up the forty  by seventy second and third floors.  Entrance to the hall was gained from Washington Street by way of the broad stairway.  Casino Hall as it was known measured forty by forty with five windows along Washington Street and two on the west wall, along the alley.  The stage filled a recess on the back wall, twenty feet wide and ten feet deep. There was a ladies dressing room just off the hall as well as a thirty by thirty room which could be used for cards or other activities.  Above and behind the hall were the dinning room and kitchen which was reach by a stairway in the main hall.  The building later became the offices of the Wisconsin National Life Insurance Company but was demolished some time early in the twentieth century.  
The post office erected after the fire of 1875 was the second  Oshkosh post office to come from architect Waters' drawing board, the first was in 1869 and was part of a building on the corner of High Street and Division Street.  The new edifice was sixty by forty and two stories high, situated on Washington Street just east of the First National Bank.  The post office was on the first floor and private offices on the second floor.  As a matter of fact Mr. Waters' offices were on the second floor of this building.  Three sets of arched topped double doors provided access to the building and above them were three arched topped windows, capped by a pediment bearing the inscription "US POST OFFICE".  The center was flanked by wings, each with two windows on the first and second floors.  Small pediments above the cornice finished the roof line.  The building was replaced in 1886 by a grand red brick structure just to the east and was razed in 1911 to accommodated a new bank building.            
The Beckwith House was indeed the most prestigious hotel in the city.  The Empire House Hotel was built in 1867, purchased and renamed by Sanford Beckwith in 1873.  After the hotels destruction Mr. Beckwith was determined to build the best hotel in town and enlisted William Waters to draw the plans.  All did not go smoothly at first when the mayor pointed out the construction was in violation of city ordinances pertaining to the thickness of the walls. In October of 1875 both Mr. Beckwith and William Waters appeared before the common council and in the end a variance was granted.  By June of the next year a description of the new hotel filled the news paper.  The structure was four stories high, unusual for Oshkosh at that time, with the whole the the first floor given over to commercial shops.  At the center of the Main Street side was a  broad entrance and staircase which lead to the second floor office and front desk.  There was a sitting room to the left and the dining room to the right, the front desk was flanked by a coat room and wash rooms. Toward Main Street were two parlors with a balcony above the front door.  To the south of these parlors was the gentlemen's sitting room, in a triangular shape as formed by the structure of the building, the view from this room and those above it were said to have been magnificent.  Along the Algoma Street side were sample rooms to accommodate the commercial trailer, where displays could bet set up and clients entertained.  The third and forth floors held 71 guest rooms each equipped with a button to signal the front desk.  The grandeur was to last but five years, for on the evening of December 3, 1880 a lighted kerosene lamp exploded, the fire consumed most of the hotel and took three lives.  What is left of the once proud hotel still stands, only a two and small three story section remain.       
The Bailey Block seems to have been financed by Mrs. H. P. Bailey, a dressmaker.  In addition to a grocery store and Mrs Bailey's shop and residence the building was reported to house the offices of several physicians, among them the eminent Dr. Dale. Over the years few changes have been made to the building, leaving it much as it was when erected. 

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

After the Great Fire, Part Four

The block between Washington and Waugoo Street had the highest concentration of  Waters designed buildings. Starting along the east side of Main Street at the corner of  Waugoo was the Ferdinand Herrmann Block.  Mr. Herrmann was grocer and had architect Waters plan a large building; two stories high, forty four  by ninety with space for three stores, the building also had an elevator.  It was one of the more elaborate structures to be erected with segmented columns flanking the great show windows, fancy window lintels, a large projecting cornice with two pediments on the front of the building. The total cost for the edifice was $8,000.  The Oshkosh National Bank replaced it sometime in the early twentieth century. 
The next building designed by Mr. Waters in that row of stores was that of Kaerwer & Henkel. George Henkel a shoe and boot dealer partnered with a barber named Jacob Kaerwer to erect a two story, twenty two by seventy store at a cost of $3,000.  It severed as Mr. Henkel's store and on the second floor, his residence.  The building survived well into the 1980's before being demolished.  Just to the north was the Peters & McKenzie Block. Ferdinand Peters was proprietor of the Peters House, a hotel located on Kansas Street, his was a carpenter as well. Hugh McKenzie, who roomed at the Peters House was also a carpenter and lumber dealer, together they built for $5,000 a forty by eighty, two story building containing two stores and office space on the upper floor.  It too fell to the wrecking ball in the 1980's.   
The grocers, K. Dichman & Son also hired William Waters as the architect of their new building.  Killian and his son William spent $6,000 for a two story structure measuring thirty six by eighty feet with two stores, warehouse space and living quarters on the second floor.  The facade featured intricate brick work, brown stone trim and a galvanized iron cornice. The building no longer stands.  Next to the Dichman stores was a building put up by Julius Heissinger.  Julius was not associated with the Heissinger brothers in a business way but had the good sense to spend $5,000 and build a thirty two by eighty, two story building holding space for two stores and offices on the second floor.  Julius was not a business man himself but he rented the store to Brauer's Ticket Agency and a cigar shop.  By 1880 Julius had past away but left his widow with a nice rental income.  The building was razed in the 1940's.
The prestigious corner of Washington and Main Streets was occupied by the Heissinger Brothers, Richard and Emil and their sister Alma as well.  The family operated a bakery, restaurant and confectionery in the newly constructed forty by eighty building.  It was two stories high with two store fronts and cost $7,000. 
The exterior displayed some fancy brick work and a large pediment  at the front and center of the building. 
It was razed  in order to build a new Woolworth store in the 1940's. 

On the west side of Main Street there were but a few buildings designed by Mr. Waters.  At the corner of High and Main Street was the Union National Bank, a twenty by one hundred and four foot, two story building of great beauty.  A description of the structure can be found in a post, dated September 5, 2010. The building remained on that corner for many years but with some alteration; the front of the changed when it was converted to retail use.  It was demolished and a drug store was erected in its place.
North of the bank were two small store fronts that came from architect Waters' drawing board: the Watts Block and Alfred Ford's building.  Both stores were twenty by eighty and two stories high.  The Watts block was erected by Mrs. Watts the widow of a grocer and was occupied by Joseph Boles, haberdasher.  Alfred Ford built the next building in line, an outlet for the sale of California wines.  These structures too were razed to accommodated a new drug store.  Since that time the entire block was cleared for open space. 

Saturday, July 27, 2013

After the Great Fire, Part Three

By July of 1875 work had commenced on the reconstruction of burned out district.  The Oshkosh newspapers as a matter of civic pride were filled with articles on the rapid rebuilding.  One such document was published in the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern of July 15, 1875 and was a  listing of all the new building by architect.  Mr. Waters was credited with some twenty structures but there were more as some were added after the paper went to press.
The subject of this post will the building on both sides of Main Street, between Otter and Waugoo Street.  H. B. Jackson commissioned Mr. Waters for a structure, one half to be used as a bank and the other half to be hardware store.  The building used the template so successfully employed by Waters on many commercial structures. It measured 40' x 60' the cost was $6,000 and as of this writing the building still stands.   
The McCorison store is one of the building that didn't make the list in the newspaper. However it is clear that the edifice is the work of architect Waters by the central pediment and brickwork at the cornice and about the windows. McCorison was a purveyor of carpet, upholstery, furniture and the large store, 46' x 80' would have provided ample room for carpet stock. The building was razed to make way for new construction sometime in the 1920's
Next to McCorison furniture store was the McKenzie Block.  The July 15th article states that R. McKenzie was to erect a small building, only twenty four feet wide and house two stores.  It appears that Mr Waters combined work for two clients into one structure, much as he did with Griffin, Ernst and Hubbard in the block just to the south.  Its is odd that there is no R. McKenzie listed in the 1876 city directory.  Newspapers of that time often made mistakes with initials.  This building too fell to the wrenching ball, to accommodate new construction.      
The building put up by Herbert Bammessell, a manufacturer and dealer of cigars was next in line and it was a beauty, with intricate brick work and imposing central pediment.  The building cost $7,000, was two stories high, measuring 46' x 80' and housed three stores as well as Mr. Bammessell on the second floor.  
Bigger & Clark Bros. built an elegant new store just across the street from Mr. Bammessell.  R. L. Bigger was a long time business man in town, once having partnered with William Hill who later built his own store two blocks north of Main and High Streets.  Both establishment vied to be the most prestigious dry goods store in town.  The new store certainly was elaborately impressive with two double door entrances, larger widows and high central pediment.  It is unclear to me if the building was razed or if it was expanded and remodeled.  I feel a portion of this structure may still exists as part of what would become S. Heymann's, cum The Boston Store.      

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

After the Great Fire, Part Two

Back on September 5, 2010, I posted an article on the great fire of Oshkosh and closed it with promise that other entries on that subject would soon follow.  Well that never happened and I intend to change that now.  There are some reader whom I'm sure will go back that 2010 posting as a matter of review and that would be a fine thing.  I will also provide a review and it goes like, this;  On April 28, 1875 a frighten employ of the Morgan Door company rushed into the office and announced that a stack of lumber was burning.  The day was dry and the wind was fierce.  The blaze pushed it's way east and the thrice burned and rebuilt business district lay in the path.  The city had been construed largely of wood and fire fighting was not the modern science of today.  ...Well you get the picture, pretty much a total lose, but it was early in the year and plans got started almost at once.   
Mr. Waters firm got commissions on 23 new building along burned out Main Street: Two hotels, a post office, two bank, an opera hall and eighteen business block; all to be built of brick.  Plans were being prepared at an unheard of pace and it would have been difficult to achieve a different look for every building. 

I've decide to look at Mr. Waters post conflagration works by starting at the south end of Main Street and working north.  One should understand that the lower end of Main Street was the unfashionable end sometimes called the rockery.  Here was a chance to change the complexion of the benighted end of the street.  Good, attractive, solid brick building would help the matter. Three men held much of the real estate along the east side of Main Street between Ceape Street and Otter: C. Griffin. C. Ernest and E. Hubbard. Mr. Waters knew it would be to expensive to design individual building for each client so he repeated the same design for the nearly the whole block, to a pleasing effect.  
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The buildings used the template very popular with architect Waters.  One building consisted of two stores, between each store was a stair way leading to the second floor.  The front elevation was much the same for any building using this formula; the room above each store had two or perhaps a triple window, center above the stairway was a diminutive window.  It was a design that Mr. Waters used over and over during the reconstruction of Oshkosh.
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Across the street Mr. Waters found work with P. V. Wright and the Jones Bros.  The clients had adjacent lots and nearly identical building.  The structures were based on same template as the buildings on the other side of the street, however the Wright building had seven windows on the second floor and Jones had but five.
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The next post will look at the buildings from Otter Street to Waugoo Street.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Appleton Residences Part Three

There are a few Appleton homes I neglected to include, so here they are.  First on the list is the home of David Smith.  Mr. Smith was one of the big names in early Appleton banking.  He was born in 1826 in Torthorwald, Scotland and his family followed his father to Quebec in 1844.  Young Mr. Smith then moved to Cincinnati, took a job with a wholesale grocer and met and married Agnes Thom.  From there the Smiths moved to Milwaukee where David was employed as a bookkeeper and met Robert Shiells.  Not long after that he and Shiells move to Neenah and establish a bank there.  Smith wished strike out on his own and moved to Appleton to open a bank in that city.  The bank would become the First National Bank but Mr. Smith didn't care for the restrictions placed him by the national banking laws and withdrew.  He later started the Manufactures Bank which eventually merged with the Commercial Bank.   
The Smiths had seven children and needed a suitable house to raise them in.  Mr. Smith turned to William Waters to provide the plans for there dwelling.  The house was in the Second Empire Style, an unusual style for Waters to work with.  The plan is very similar to that of the E. C. Goff residence also of Appleton but that the Goff place is Italianate in style.  The house was situated on a fashionable street near City Park.  David Smith died at age fifty, his widow and several children lived in the house for many years thereafter.
William Henry Harrison Stowell had life crowded with incident.  He was born in Windsor, Vermont, educated in Boston, took up mercantile pursuits after graduating, then moved to Virginia in 1865 to become a tax collector.  He was elected to the House of Representatives in 1870 and served until 1877.  In 1880 he went west to Appleton were he got into the the paper industry.  By 1886 he had moved on to Duluth Minnesota with interests in paper making, steel production and banking.  In 1914 he moved again this time to Amherst Massachusetts, were he died in 1922.  His time in Appleton may have been brief but it was long enough for him to commission a house by William Waters.  The building was never constructed. 
Rush Winslow was born November 7, 1843 in Koshkonong, Wisconsin and received his early education in Fort Atkinson.  He tried a carrier in business but decided to study medicine in the office of his father.  Young Winslow went on to school in Chicago and New York and received his MD in 1870 from Bellevue College, New York.  In 1873 he settled in Appleton and was recognized as one of the leading professional men of the city.  He also believed in public service and was first elected alderman and then four teams as mayor starting in 1887.  He too secured the services of William Water to plan his abode.  The house was  Queen Anne Style with porch at the front and side of the building and sat on a corner lot one block south of College Avenue and just across the street from the Methodist church.  
Alexander Smith was the son of David Smith, so it is fitting that he should ask architect Waters to plan his house.  Alexander's house still stands on Park Avenue in Appleton, not far from City Park.  It has been altered from the original but the Waters design is unmistakable.  A simple Queen Anne, it is based on a cottage design Mr. Waters used to great success for many years.    
The last house on the list is the rectory built for All Saints Episcopal Church.  That church had had a long history in the city of Appleton, first as Grace Episcopal and later as All Saints.  By 1891 the church was getting settled after having moved the church building the site at the corner of Drew and College.  A proper rectory was called for and the church sought out Mr. Waters to make the plans.  The architect delivered a beautiful and well proportioned Queen Anne Style house which was erected on Drew Street just next to the church.  The rectory served the parish until 1959 when it was raised to make way for another building.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Residences in Green Bay & De Pere

William Waters had two residential commissions in the cities of Green Bay and De Pere. The first was the home of banker  and philanthropist Rufus Kellogg.  My research was sketchy at best, there was no comprehensive biography of him to be found, on line.  I do know he was of the Amherst Massachusetts Kellogg's and he was born in 1837 and past away in Green Bay in 1891.      
There was also precious little information on his dwelling; it is mention in an article about architect Waters published in the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern dated June 25, 1891.  The house was in the Stick Style and may  have been designed in the late 1870's or early 1880's.  There was a large wing of the house to the right which looked like the foursquare houses of the turn of the century.  To the left was the front door and small porch and behind it and even future to the left  was tower like portion which may have held the stair case.  This tower was capped by bell cast roof with an iron work finial at it's peak, all the the roof ridges were adorned with iron work.  Just behind the tower was a portion of the house which rose to a third floor gable and in that gable was a double window and small balcony.  In 1908 the house was purchased by the Sister of St. Joesph of Carondelet and became St. Joesph Academy for Girls.  It severed in that capacity until the late 1950's when it was replaced and demolished.    
On North Broadway, along the Fox River in De Pere was the home of E.E. Bolles the owner and operator of a wooden ware mill in that city.  The only reference to this dwelling and William Waters was the Northwestern Weekly article from June of 1891.  The house was an early Queen Style and was designed perhaps around 1881.  It was a large house with many porches and bay windows on the first floor and an abundance of windows on the second floor.  Gables, dormer and towering chimneys crowned the house on the attic level.  At sometime the house was remolded and the Queen Anne details were removed in an effort to update the building.

Friday, June 28, 2013

At Home in Waupaca

Mr. Waters  found residential commissions throughout the state of Wisconsin and Waupaca provided a few. The architects first job in that city was the county courthouse, built in 1881.  Waupaca was growing fast, many people prospered from that growth and many fine dwelling were being erected.  A brief notice in the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern  of July 28, 1881 states that the architect had residential commissions in Appleton, Neenah and Waupaca.  
The C. R. Hoffman residence was one the first houses Waters designed in Waupaca.  Charles R. Hoffman was the proprietor of a jewelry store; born in Chicago, he learned his trade at Giles Brothers of that city.  In 1881 he moved to Waupaca and found employment with W. Chady; after a year he bought out Mr. Chady and continued a thriving business.  He hired William Waters to design a suitable dwelling for his family.  The house was a cottage style the architect had used with great success on many other homes.  The main portion the the building had a long slopping roof with a diminutive dormer and to the right was a large gable.  On the side elevation there was a bay window which straddled the first and second floor and accommodated the stair case.        
Next came the home of S. T. Oborn; Oborn was born in Ulysses, Schuyler County, New York in 1849 and moved with his parents to Neenah.  He attended Baldwin University in Berea, Ohio for three years before entering a career in the milling business, first in Neenah, then Chicago and came to Waupaca in 1876, taking  charge of City Mills.  In 1884 Mr. Oborn partnered with R. N. Roberts and built the Crescent Mills one the the largest and best in the region.  At about the same time he commissioned William Waters to prepare plans for a new house.  The structure was of the Queen Anne Style and not unlike the home of A. W. Patten in Appleton.  A transverse plan was employed with a large gable at one end with a porch. Another porch ran along the front of the house from center to the opposite end and near that end on the second floor was a bay which rose to the attic level. At the center of the roof was a large eyebrow window.  The upper floors were covered with shingles and the first floor sided with clapboards.    
A. G. Nelson was born in Warmland, Sweden in June of 1849, came to Waupaca in August of 1871 and began work at the Eagle Planning Mill.  By 1873 in partnership with his brother J.P. and Ole Olson they purchased the C. H. Ritz Planning Mill which was destroyed by fire in 1877 and rebuilt.  Mr. Nelson was an ambitious man, entering the arena of politics he was elected alderman and later to the state assembly.  By the turn of the twentieth century he'd accomplished a great deal and wanted a home that reflected that.  William Waters drew up plans for a large classical style dwelling with an imposing tower at one corner.  A grand front porch dominated the front elevation and above on the second floor was a large bay window.  The house was capped with a bell cast hipped roof with dormers along the front and sides.