Monday, March 25, 2013

H. G. H. Reed Residence

Horatio Gates Howard Reed in addition to having a very long name was quite an accomplished fellow, born in Marshfield Massachusetts, he relocated  to Sheboygan Wisconsin.  Before migrating he worked for several railroads in the east.  In Sheboygan he partnered in a storage, forwarding and commission merchant company.  Mr. Reed served a term in the state legislature and then worked for several Wisconsin railroads, transit companies as well as the Kaukauna Water Power Company.  He was by 1885 a wealthy man and purchased land on the north shore of Lake Butte des Morts, just west of Oshkosh, William Water was hired  to design a large stylish home.  
 Queen Anne was the predominate mode for residential architecture at that time and included a verity of elements.  Mr. Waters plans were an assemblage of differing surface textures and decorative features.  The structures attic level was used to it's fullest potential, a series of windows along the front gave the house the look of a full three story building.  There was a large veranda and porte cochere on the front of the house, the roof of which was accessible from the second floor.  An open porch occupied the right side of the house on the first floor and above was a large open balcony.  In the peak of the gable at that end of the house was an oriel window and on the long sloped roof, an eyebrow window.  
The J. R. Davis house built in 1887 on East Wisconsin Avenue in Neenah bares a great resemblance to the Reed house, as originally built.  If one were to personify these buildings the Reed place might be the big brother and the Davis house the little sister. Overall the Davis residence is smaller, porches and balconies were the biggest difference.  A diminutive front porch and no porch along the right side of the house as well as an open balcony of the third floor are just a few elemental differences.  
About the year 1910 Dr. Ovatt purchased the Reed mansion and it may have been then that substantial remodeling took place.  When ever it was, the Queen Anne features of the house were obliterated in favor of a more classical style.  The line of windows on the third floor was removed, the gable at the right end was replaced with a shed roof and the balcony enclosed with windows.  On the first floor the veranda and porte cochere were updated and what had been an open porch at the right side of the house was hemmed with windows.  The house then became the summer home of E. H. Fahrney of Chicago and his daughter Mary or "Mad Cap" Merry Fahrney.  Eventually it became the property of a Mr. Leach who, in the 1960's had the building moved from the lake shore to it's present location.  Since it was moved it has had a continuous slide from grace.  It's been a number of restaurants, antique shops, private residence and perhaps even a brothel.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Willie's Book

Recently I question a fellow blogger about an image of a house in Neenah.  He told me he'd seen a picture of the house in an album compiled by William Waters Jr. and that the book was held at the Wisconsin State Historical Society.  I called the archivist to confirm the existence of the collection and by the description given to me, I felt sure it was what I was looking for.  I went to the archive in Madison, accompanied by my wife and after filling out the requisite paper work the file was brought to us. What was in the file wasn't the photo album I had anticipated but some thing just as exciting.    

Before me were the pages of a once bound agricultural journal.  Upon the pages young William Waters Jr. or "Willie" as he was known had pasted discarded drawing done by his father or J. P, Jensen.  It was evident to me that it was the work of a child for the haphazard nature of organization and mounting.  There were some engravings  of building not designed by his father and perhaps included just because the boy liked them.  Most of the pages were filled with small pencil drawings: elevations, floor plans and details of residential, religious and commercial structures.  The majority of the sketches were from 1876 as some of them were dated, Willie would have been seven.  One can speculate about the books creation; perhaps it was a summer day, the boy went to the office with his father and took up the project as a way to keep occupied.  This was a difficult time for Mr. Waters and his family, their infant daughter had died in April of 1873 and Mrs. Waters past away in October of 1875.  The disastrous Oshkosh fires of 1874 and '75 had kept the office busy as well as forcing Waters to find new office space.
The younger Waters finished his education in Oshkosh with a diploma from Oshkosh High School and then in 1888, went on to Cornell University, graduating four years later with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. After a year of study abroad he returned to Oshkosh and worked in his fathers office. In 1896 William junior partnered with George A. Rockwell also an Oshkosh native and graduate of Cornell, opening an office in Green Bay.  Perhaps things didn't go well as the partnership ended by 1899, where upon William returned to Oshkosh and the office of his father, forming the firm of William Waters and Son.  In early June of 1900 William married Florence E. Bacon of Milwaukee and the union was blessed with a daughter, Mercedes.  William took an examination in March of 1902 for the United State government architects office, which must have impressed officials, because by April he was hired and assigned to Manila. Upon his return from the Philippians he and his family settled in San Francisco.  Not much is known of his work at this time but he became supervising architect of building construction for the 1915 Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco. William's last visit to father came in the summer of 1917 but was unable to attend his funeral in December, there being business to attend to in California.  William Waters Jr. past away, November 27, 1920 at age 51, his ashes interned in Oshkosh's Riverside Cemetery on the ninth of December.  

Friday, March 8, 2013

Alton Ripley Residence

There isn't much information about the Alton Ripley residence in Fisk Wisconsin.  There were no newspaper articles announcing Ripleys' intent to build or to use Mr. Waters as architect.  In point of fact the only proof I have of Waters' authorship of the plans is a drawing done by J. P. Jensen the firms' draftsman.  It's one of a hand full of rendering I acquired many years ago after they were carelessly disposed of following an exhibit of Oshkosh architecture, at the university.  All the drawings were of structures built in the 1880's and 90's which leads me to believe the Ripley house was built circa 1890.  
The house is unlike any other job done by Waters, it is the only house of his, I know of  with a gambrel roof. Laid out on a lengthwise plan, there was a small porch on the front set within the footprint of the building.  To the left of the porch on the first floor was a set of double windows and above in the gambrel gable were two separate windows.  There was an intersecting a gable roof about half way along the side of the house.  On the first floor of the north elevation there was a set of triplet windows in the dining room with pantry and kitchen windows beyond. Above on the second floor a small dormer with a diminutive window preceded the gable overhang supported by graceful brackets.  Shaded by the protruding gable was a large stair case window starting just below the  upper floor which continued to the sofitt.  A set of double and one single window completed the fenestration on that wall. The south side also had a protruding gable and a bay window from first to second floor. There was an open, covered side porch with ornate bracket to support the roof.  Next to the bay on the second floor was another window and a small aperture occupied the gable. 
Alton Ripley was the son of Sylvanus Ripley, a partner in the lumber company Ripley and Mead.  The elder Ripley resided at 257 Algoma St. and also owned 120 acres just north of the village of Fisk southwest of Oshkosh, Alton too lived at the Algoma St. address.  The younger Ripley had a number of occupations: book keeper for Ripley and Mead, President of the Lord Bros. Jewelry Co.of  Milwaukee, proprietor of the Wuapaca Granite Quarry and a manufacturer of fire apparatus.  The Ripleys remained residence of Algoma St. even after Sylvanus' death in 1897, never was their address listed as Fisk, Wisconsin.

A few years ago I paid a visit to Fisk, ostensibly to find the house.  I was richly rewarded, for when I located the farm I stopped and made the acquaintance of Helen Kleinschmidt.  She and her husband George moved to the farm just after the war, for an hour we looked through old photographs as she reminisced,  At last I asked if I might take some pictures of the place, she was happy to oblige. Perhaps sometime in the 1960's the house was altered: the front porch enclosed and large windows to replace the set of double windows.  A sizable addition was erected on the north side of the house while the side porch on the south face was enclosed.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Wm. Prentice Residence

William Waters got off to a great start in Oshkosh with commissions from the state of Wisconsin for the Normal School in that city and superintendent architect of construction for the Northern State Hospital, as well  as several city jobs. Being a fine architect and savvy businessman Mr. Waters took full advantage of the good economic times and sought jobs feather-a-field.  One of his first jobs to take him out of town was the residence of William Prentice, woolen mill operator of Sheboygan Falls.  Mr. Prentice wanted a fine home befitting his status in the community. The Sheboygan County News published a report on March 4, 
1870 on the new residence to be built by Prentice, using the finest materials; 60,000 bricks from the Whipple & Goodrich Brick Yard had been gathered for the two story house which was to measure 32' x 36'.  The basement was to house the dining room, kitchen and servants' quarters, while on the first floor were the parlor and conservatory, guest and family bed rooms occupied  the second floor.
The interior lay out dictated a very singular exterior: Architect Water employed a Second Empire Style, rarely used by him.  The structure was a celebration of asymmetry.  Because the basement accommodated the dining and other essential rooms the first floor was higher off the ground than might be expected.  There was on the front elevation, just to the right of center, a tower which held the front entry.  To get to the doors one had to mount a flight of stairs to a platform with railings; a set of large double doors was hooded by a balcony above and there too was another set of doors.  To the right of the tower on the main floor was a covered porch which could be accessed from the parlor.  Left of the tower on the same floor were two set of window fronted by another balcony.  Along the right side, a bay window projected from the main floor and a lofty chimney pierced the roof line.  A mansard roof with dormers on all sides topped the house as well as the tower which was finished off with decorative iron work.  At sometime, perhaps around the turn of the century a large covered porch was added, changing the character of the structure.  From 1943 until 1968 the building served as the Sheboygan Falls Public Library after which it once again became a private dwelling.