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.      

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