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.