Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Oshkosh Commercial Building of 1884

The year of 1884 was a very good for William Waters, he designed four houses and four commercial buildings in Oshkosh. Of the drawings that came from his drafting board that year, three stores were on Main Street and one on High Street.  Economic times were good and the citizens of Oshkosh were in a mood to build. 
In early November of 1883 there was an announcement of the sale of C. N. Paine's vacant lot on the  east side of Main Street not far from the corner with Washington Street.  The empty lot had long been an eyesore so the news of Messrs. Thielen and Weidner's purchase was greeted with anticipation. By October of the next year the building was nearly finish, the construction having been done by Mr. E. E. Stevens.  The style was said to be Commercial Gothic with the entire building presenting a substantial and elaborate appearance.  Built mostly of red pressed brick the building featured limestone lentils, keystone and other trim as well as black brick in the arches adding to the visual appeal.                                                                                                                                                  
Just to the north of the Thielen, Weidner block was another new building put up that year by John Hoenig.  Although stylistically different from its' neighboring store, the Hoenig building was harmonious with it, in that is was built of red press brick and had limestone trim.  Mr. Waters used a familiar template; two store fronts separated by a stairway to the second floor.  The front elevation of the second floor consisted of a central window flanked by sets of triplet windows in ached openings with white limestone trim set in a backdrop of recessed square panels.  The facade was topped with bands of black brick and a terracotta cornice.
Three door up the street was yet another Waters' job, this being a building of two stores for Killian Dichmann, a retired grocer.  The Dichmann family was large and industrious and architect Waters had designed other commercial buildings for them after the great fire of 1875.  The new building was based on the two store fronts and central stairway model used to such great success in the past.  Red pressed brick was used along with bands of black brick and just below the second floor windows were several courses of diagonally laid bricks.  Above the windows was a terracotta frieze and beyond that a brick work cornice.    
Henry L. Schmidt was referred to as the restaurant man in the newspaper article which announced his intention to build on High Street across from the Grand Opera House.  A description of the building said it was to be 20 x 80 feet and two stories high.  There were to be two stores, one fronting on High Street and the other fronting on Market Street.  The structure was to have a fine basement and office space as well as living quarters on the second floor.  Like the opera house it was built of cream colored brick with dark accent bands and at the top of the walls was a brick work cornice.  

P. S.  As of this writing all four of these building are still standing.

Saturday, November 29, 2014


In 1844 Dorothea Dix delivered a damning report, to the New Jersey legislature on the condition of the mentally ill in that state.  This lead to the construction of New Jerseys' Lunatic Asylum, a building based on a plan developed by Dr. Thomas S. Kirkbride.  The idea caught on and many hospitals were built using the Kirkbride plan.  By 1869 Wisconsin, just twenty years a state moved to build its' own hospitals for the insane.  Two location were chosen: Governors' Island in Lake Mendota near Madison and the village of Winnebago just north of Oshkosh on Lake Winnebago.

The plans for both, using the Kirkbride template were drawn by S. V. Shipman a Madison architect, retained by the state as State Architect.  Mr. Shipman also maintained an office in Chicago and the plans for the Northern Illinois State Mental Hospital, in Elgin were identical to the Wisconsin structures.  How does William Waters fit in to all this, you may ask.  Mr. Waters was the architect supervising the construction of the new hospital near Oshkosh.  There has been some confusion about this in the past, with Waters being cited as having planed the building.  In September of 1872 in a report on the progress of construction, architect Shipman wrote "The constant and efficient superintendence of the work by my assistant, Mr. Waters, architect, has contributed largely to the excellent character of the work accomplished.  This should prove to the board as it does to me, his fitness and integrity."         

Also in the village of Winnebago was the Winnebago County Asylum, Poorhouse and farm.  In 1849 the state enacted a poorhouse law which allowed for counties to establish poorhouses and asylums. By 1865 Winnebago County formed a plan to care for the poor, insane and feeble minded, taking over a poorhouse run by the city of Oshkosh.  In 1871 a farm just across the tracks form the state hospital was purchased and a building erected to serve as poorhouse and asylum.  The building served well for a number of years but the indigent and insane shared the same space, by 1893 an asylum for the insane was built as planed by William Waters. Waters abandoned the Kirkbride model and instead designed a hospital with a large central building flanked by two identical structures.  The same project included a residence for the engineer and a boiler house both designed by Mr. Waters. All the buildings were of a light colored brick with dark accent bands, two stories high and steep hipped roofs.  The asylum buildings served until 1968 when mounting maintains costs and code violation made it impractical to keep them and they were razed.  

The poorhouse still occupied a building built in 1871 and by 1906 had proved to be inadequate.  Mr.Waters won the contract to design a replacement.  A beautiful building was constructed with a three story central pavilion and two story wings on either side.  The home was capped by hipped roofs with large chimneys.  Entry was gained by way of a front porch and there were side porches as well.  Struck by lighting in June of 1944 the home burned to the ground      

Not all of the asylums planned by architect Waters were built.  In 1887 Waupaca County intended to build an asylum on farm land a mile north of the city of Waupaca.  The Milwaukee Sentinel reported that the plans as drawn by Mr. Waters had been adopted and the county board was accepting bids.  The article also mentioned a group of residence from the eastern part of the county who opposed the site had filed an injunction.  In December of the next year a judge ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, scuttling the plans for an asylum near Waupaca.  Eventually a hospital was built in Weyauwega from plans drawn by the architectural partners Van Ryn and De Gelleke of Milwaukee.  

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Wisconsin Veterans Home, Part Two

As the summer of 1889 continued the grounds of the Veteran Home took on the look of a village.  A park with band stand was envisioned, streets were laid out and tidy cottages built to line them. Architect Waters planned a large and small cottage and many were built.  The Waters' buildings were of a simple Queen Anne style with porches, interesting fenestration and a variety shingle patterns.
 Not all cottages erected were of Waters' design, GAR chapters from many cities around the state constructed cottages of various designs and allowed deserving veterans form that city live in them.  The dwellings were small because they had no kitchens, all meals being served at the dining hall.  Some cottage still remain, although altered slightly and some were demolished or moved off the grounds.

A small hospital was built at the south end of the campus.  It was one and half stories and a Queen Anne style with interesting details but little ornamentation.  The building was in service only a few months when on the night of November 9, 1889 it burned down to its' foundation.  There is but one photograph of the smoldering ruins, just the chimneys standing.  The hospital was soon replaced by a large two story building which was not the work of William Waters. 

Another of the original buildings designed by Mr. Waters was the barn built to house dray animals and other livestock.  One publication claims the barn was on the property when it was acquired.  This seems unlikely as a sketch of it appears in the Oshkosh Times of March 16, 1890 along with drawings of the Hospital, Commandants Residence, 21st Regiment Club House and a small cottage.  The structure, although utilitarian was a stylish Queen Anne design and was handsome addition to the grounds.  There was at least one extension to the barn before it fell into disuse and deteriorated to the point of need to be demolished making way for another hall.  

Other buildings not from Waters' drafting table were built; Amusement Hall, The Chapel and post office were but a few.  Mr Waters' next job at the home was Jerry Rusk Hall, commissioned in 1895. Intended as housing for elderly couples the hall was a Queen Anne style with central pavilion, flanked by two towers, a tall one to the left and a short one to the right. Entry was gained through a large veranda, the roof of which formed a balcony accessed by a door between the towers. Two wings stretched in opposite directions from the center, the terminus of which were large octagon shaped sections with porches.  On June 7, 1929 a fire destroyed much of the building such that what remained had to be razed.  Only a few of the old building survived to the 21st century.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Wisconsin Veterans Home, Part One

At the time of the Civil War, Wisconsin was little more then a pioneer frontier but the state managed to send 12,300 to fright for the cause of the union.  Of the survivors, many of the once health young men returned crippled or in ill health.  The National Solder's Home in Milwaukee would only accommodate the veterans but not their wives.  The Milwaukee home also proved inadequate for the number of veteran wishing to be admitted.  There was as well the question of the widows of veterans who often found the county poor house to be their only recourse.  The Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization, formed a committee and worked with the state to build a home for Wisconsin's veterans.  A search for a suitable location was conducted in 1887 and narrowed to six cities; Berlin, Waupaca, New Lisbon, Evansville, Sheboygan and Watertown.  The Greenwood Park Hotel site on Rainbow Lake was chosen and was purchased by the city of Waupaca along with seventy eight acres which was in turn donated to the Veterans Home.  Remodeling of the 1881 hotel began at once and plans for more building got under way as well.                              
On April 25, 1889 there was an article in the Oshkosh Times which told of Architect Waters' plans for several building to be constructed in the coming season at the home.  There was mention of a hotel like building to house the veterans and ten to twelve cottages.  The next month there was yet another write up quoting Commandant, Captain Woodnorth who had been to see Mr. Waters.  Among the improvements mentioned were a water works system, dining, kitchen and ladies hall, superintendent and doctor's building, store room, ice house, a large barn and twenty cottages. All were to be completed a ready for occupancy by the winter.     
One building not mention was the 21st Regiment Club House, a charming Queen Anne Style structure said to have been one of the finest club houses.  It was later known as Joseph H. Woodnorth Hall and later was used as the nurses quarters before being demolished in 1971.  The superintendents residence was a striking Queen Anne Style building with a long sloping roof and a most unusual corner belvedere.    
Not of a picturesque style, the Dining Hall was utilitarian in form and function.  All meals were cooked and served from this building and the second floor was the women's dormitory.  It was located just behind Marden Hall; the former Greenwood Park Hotel.  
Across the road to Waupaca was Marston Hall a beautiful Queen Anne Style, hotel like building. Two octagon portions flanked the central pavilion with a veranda along the front and at center was a two story portico.  On the back side of the hall were three wings left, right and center which held resident rooms.  Because of the halls distance from the rest of the campus it was known as Canada and it was a hardship in the winter for residences to walk to the dining hall for meals, a kitchen and dining room were then added.  Marston was torn down in July of 1985, after ninety five years of service.  

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Lake House

The economic panic of 1893 had lasted a number of years and recovery was underway by 1896, with more construction of all kinds.  Architect Waters designed a bank in Waupaca, a summer retreat for the Jesuits and a school in Oshkosh.  Styles were changing as well, Queen Anne was passe, replaced by Colonial Revival and Neoclassical styles.  An emerging style of house at that time was what has been dubbed the American  Foursquare but perhaps known by another moniker at the time.  Mr. Waters drew plans for many fine homes based on the Foursquare style, the Frank Lake residence on Menasha's Park Street being one of the best.  It was a large house with many windows, especially on the front elevation which faced the park to the west.  A full porch, five windows on the second floor and grand dormer dominated the front of the building.  The first floor was clad with clapboard and the upper stories with shingles.  It was enlarged at sometime but the addition was seamless.
Mr. Lake was born in New York state in the late 1850's and grew up there, he married, came west to Chicago and became a salesman for Menasha Wooden Ware.  He was a hard worker and savvy businessman, he came a stockholder and in 1889 moved to Menasha to serve as treasurer of the company.  He guided the firm through economic hardship as president and was a tireless promoter of the city of Menasha.  After his retirement from the company he moved to Winnetka, Illinois where he past away in 1939.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

E. E. Stevens

The history of Oshkosh could boast of many fine architects: Adam Bell, William Waters, William C. Klapproth and E. E. Stevens are some of the noteworthy names which come to mind.  Ephraim Eldorus Stevens was born in 1851 in Waldo County, Maine and moved with the family to Oshkosh in 1852, one of twelve children born to Hiram and Rosella Stevens.  Hiram operated a lime kiln across the lake and was a dealer of bricks and other building materials.  At the start of the Civil War he and his two eldest sons joined up, Hiram fell ill and died in 1863, Ephraim was thirteen.  The young Stevens attended Oshkosh public schools as well as the Baptist church.  His older brothers taught him masonry and carpentry, by 1876 he went to Green Bay to study architecture in the office D. M. Harteau with whom he later formed a partnership.  He also formed a life partnership that same year when he married Maggie Jacobs of New York.  In 1878 he and his wife returned to Oshkosh and started a family and business.   
                              Several  Oshkosh schools were of his design.
The Stevens family was growing too, in time Maggie would give birth to five daughters, namely; Viola Maude, Gracie May, Catherine Rosalie, Addie D. and Bessie.  Like his brother Edward P, Ephraim worked as a contractor and builder as well as architect. Stevens established his office on the second floor of 158 N. Main Street and did in 1895 employ the services of Wm. C. Klapproth and Alonzo Austin.  As a contractor Stevens worked on a few buildings designed by William Waters, most notably the First Ward School, he also competed with Waters for the design of many buildings, the library, South Park School Merrill School and the High School were just a few.

                                      The building at 158 North Main Street

The decade of the the 1890's seem to have been the the high water mark for Mr. Stevens' architectural career with commissions for churches, commercial buildings, a hospital and many fine dwelling for wealthy clients.  All his buildings seem to have had a distinctive flair and unusual yet handsome look about them.      
Architect Stevens' residential works were of the most outstanding character, large and impressive, they were noticed as artistic and capacious.  The well to do of Oshkosh sought his services for their housing needs for new construction as well as alterations.  For instance Orville Beach owned an ageing and passe' Italianate style house on Algoma Street, transformed by Stevens to a dwelling more au courant for its' day.     

E. E. Stevens lived most of his life in Oshkosh, so it is little wonder that he would come to love the city and work toward its' improvement.  To that end he became interested in city politics, first winning election as the Forth Ward alderman, not once but twice, in 1881 and 1885.  He didn't stop there however and in 1889 ran for and was elected mayor of the city.  As mayor he saw the need for city parks and was responsible for the acquisition of the land for both North and South Parks, the former being purchased from Col. Lucius Miller for $25,000 and the latter from Samuel Osborn.  Stevens' visionary purchases were not received well by the voter of Oshkosh and Mayor Stevens served but one term.  The voters must have forgiven him as he was elected to the State Senate in 1904 and served until 1905.     
The Stevens lived in a large house on Merritt Avenue near the lake and was likely built in 1878, designed by his own hand.  He died there in 1907.  The city of Oshkosh has much to be thankful for in the legacy left by E. E. Stevens.  His vision and ability made the city what it is today.  

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Stevens House

About a year ago I published an elevation of a house which came from a collection of sketches gathered by a young William Waters Jr.  I had no information about the house but concluded that the dwelling dated from the 1870's.  A few months back an astute reader recognized the house as being on Merritt Avenue in Oshkosh.  I'm not one to pass up a good mystery so I started my search with State Historical Society and photos from a 1983 building survey of Oshkosh.  There I found a photograph of  919 Merritt Ave, formerly numbered 274 before 1957.  A comparison of the two show them to be similar but not identical.  Perhaps the house was the work of William Waters or perhaps not, it's hard to say.  
Next I searched old Oshkosh City Directories and made an interesting discovery.  In the 1891 directory, the first one to publish a street directory, Edward P. Stevens, a builder and contractor in list as the resident of 274 Merritt Ave.  Further the 1866 directory lists Mrs. Stevens, (sic) s s Merritt b Bowen and Hazel and indeed 274 cum 919 Merritt is on the south side of the street between Bowen and Hazel.  Rosella Stevens was widow of Hiram Stevens who in 1852 moved his family from Waldo County, Maine to the village of Oshkosh.  Hiram became a dealer of wood and lime, operating a kiln across the lake at Clifton (High Cliff).
In 1861 he and his eldest son William enlisted in Oshkosh Company B, Third Wisconsin Cavalry and served a three year attachment with Western army in Missouri, his younger son Edward joined the next year.  The riggers of service took a harsh toll on Hiram and he returned to Oshkosh and died in March of 1863.
Rosella had twelve children four of whom died as infants the rest grew to be adults.  William O. Stevens survived the war and became a successful stone cutter and mason.  Edward P. also a war survivor was a mason, builder and contractor.  Daughters Addie and Lilly married and moved to Milwaukee and Missouri, respectively. Sons Fredrick B. and Charles O. moved to Suamico in Brown county, while George a lumberman lived in Menominee, Michigan.  Ephraim Eldorus Stevens worked as a carpenter, mason and apprenticed with architect with D. M. Harteau of Green Bay, later forming a partnership.  In 1878 he returned to Oshkosh to open his own office.  There is so much to tell of E. E. Stevens, I intend to devote more posts him and his work. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Six

This post will be the last in the series about the banks of William Waters.  All but one of the buildings in this post have been covered in other entries.  The First National Bank of Marshfield was mentioned in the 2/21/14 post "Marshfield Rebuilt".  The bank was adjacent to the Tremont Hotel and was stylistically similar,
featuring Queen Anne details.  The structure was of cream colored brick, two stories high.  Like many of architect Waters' banks it had a chamfered corner capped by a stylish pediment.  There were along the top of the walls recessed panel, about a foot square, the same as those seen on the Old National Bank of Waupaca. Eventually the building was annex by the hotel and a third story was added but the pediment remained.  
The subject of the post "Buildings of the North, Part One" were the banks at Phillips and Merrill, with photographic records of only of the building at Merrill.  Built in 1881 for Ross, McCord and Company the edifice had space for a bank, three stores and second floor offices.  It's typical of many of Mr. Waters' commercial structures of the time, with a chamfered corner and small triplet windows just below a date inscribed pediment.  
Only the Shawano County bank was neglected.  The bank was  organized in 1886, with C. M. Upham as president.  The Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern of February 3, 1887, under the heading "Short Notes" cites architect Waters as having drawn plans for a $6,000 structure in Shawano, the newspaper has no more specific information than that.  A notice in December of 1887 speaks of the plans the architect had drawn for a new school house, from which I concluded the $6,000 in the earlier article to be the Shawano County Bank.    
The bank was two stories high, built of cream colored brick and Queen Anne Style. There were shops in the basement, offices on the first and second floors with the bank occupying most of the first floor.  Entry to the bank was gained through double door set in a chamfered corner above which was a set of double windows with an art glass transom.  A brick work cornice run along the building top and the corner was an elegant pediment.  It was unclear as to the precise location of the building, only to say it stood on a corner.  At some time the building was enlarged with a sympathetic addition which may or may not have been the work of Mr. Waters.  It was perhaps about 1910 when the bank became known as the First National Bank of Shawano with W. C. Zachow as president.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Five

These next two banks were both in Waupaca county, sort of.  One was in Waupaca and the other was New London.  New London was one of those rare communities which lay in two counties and the bank was on the Waupaca side.  There wasn't much information on Farmers State Bank of New London, except to say it was organized in 1912 with local businessman Silas Wright as president.  The bank was located on the southwest corner of N. Pearl Street and E. Water Street just across the street from city hall.  The name of the bank appeared on a list of blue prints inventoried from the Waters' office after his passing.  It is unclear to what extent Mr. Waters was responsible for the bank building, photographic evidence suggest a job of remodeling and the building looks as if it dated from the nineteenth century rather than the early twentieth century.  The altered front had a large arched window, the entrance was also changed to an arch like that of many other Waters' buildings.  The first  floor was remodeled yet again when it became jewelry store and the building was demolished many years ago to improve traffic movement over the Wolf River bridge.     
In 1893 William Waters got the commission to design a new building for the Old National Bank of Waupaca.  The building constructed of pressed red brick with limestone trim was located on a prominent Main Street corner.  The structure rose three stories and in addition to the bank, had two retail spaces on the ground floor, offices on the second floor and on the third floor Knights of Pythias' Castle Hall.  Of a different style, the building was very similar in size and lay out to the Commercial Bank of Appleton.  The bank entrance was an arched opening in a chamfered corner and to the right was a large arched window next to a store leased to a pharmacist.  There was in the pediment of the chamfered corner a set of triplet windows with arched lintels of limestone.  
Along the side of the building was a row of windows, a stairway to the upper floors and another store front. At the top of the walls there was brick work of recessed square panels layout in row and topped the a limestone capstone.  In 1914 the druggists' lease ended and the bank took over the erstwhile drug store, expanding and remodeling the first floors' front.  In the mid 1970's the bank moved to a new building and the old building nearly met the wrecking ball but was purchased and renovated.  

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Four

I've chosen to pair the two banks in this post, not for their proximity in location but for their proximity of design.   One was in Ripon and the other in Stevens Point, both were Romanesque in style.  In the Oshkosh Northwestern Weekly's biographical article about architect Waters of June 25, 1891 a Ripon bank is listed but not a bank in Stevens Point.  Among the many images found in the Waters archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum was a building of rough hewn stone with a pediment holding a set of small arched topped windows but no identification.  While researching the Ripon opera house I noticed in a photograph of the town square a similar building and concluded it was the Waters' designed bank listed in the newspaper. 
The bank in Ripon was the German National Bank which was built in 1891, its' construction unheralded by any of the Oshkosh press.  Constructed of rough hewn limestone it was perhaps thirty feet wide and two stories high.  On the ground floor to the left was the entrance; double doors with an arched transom, flanked by twin columns which supported a stone lintel and pediment and to the right of the doors was a large square window.  Above the first floor window were two windows and another set of smaller windows to the left just above the doors.  The stone work was of regular shaped blocks, either rectangular or square and laid in even courses.  With the onset of World War one the bank changed its' name to the First National Bank and replaced the building in the early 1920's with a large Art Deco Style edifice.
The mystery of the unidentified bank remained. I had no idea where to look but searched old images from cities around the state, old postcards of Stevens Point brought an answer when I spotted the building in a picture of Main Street.  The accompanying explanation designated the building as the Citizens National Bank, built in 1895.  The bank was a  tour de force of Romanesque Style architecture with retail space in the basement and two floors above for banking and office use.  The first floor sat on a high foundation and the front elevation was dominated by two features; to the left a large arched window and at the right the front door.  The entrance was gained by a short flight of steps and as with the Ripon bank there was a set double doors with an arched transom set in a portico with twin pillars on each side supporting brackets.  These brackets held up a stone lintel inscribed the the word "BANK" and above that  was a pediment rising past the windows of the second floor.  The fenestration of the second floor was like that of the Ripon bank with two large windows above the arched window of the first floor and two smaller windows above the door.  The second floor widows were double hung window with transoms, above the windows to the left were two square lights and three lights above the smaller windows to the right.  A pediment with a set of triplet window capped the facade.  The stone work was of regular shaped blocks, either square or rectangular not laid in even courses but in a random pattern.  Large stone lintels topped the openings of the second floor. In the 1907 book Along the Wisconsin River by A. Decker there was this quote, " Few banks in the country are housed in finer quarters, the elegant building it occupies being not an enduring monument to the business sagacity of its backers, but it is a rich and magnificent acquisition to the architectural splendor of the city."  The splendor of the architecture was appreciated only until 1921 when the facade was replaced by a neoclassical style front.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Three

With all the work Mr. Waters did in Neenah and Menasha it is no surprise that he designed a bank in each city.  The First National Bank of Neenah was founded in 1861 and was located on the corner of Wisconsin Avenue and Ceder Street, later known as Commercial Street.  A fire in 1883 destroyed the bank and the adjacent Pettibone Block, a replacement was soon in the works.  Architect Waters' plans not only provided ample space for the bank but there were three other retail spaces as well as office or residential rooms on the second floor.   The building was of the latest style and employed a variety of building materials and surface textures.  Along the Wisconsin Avenue side were two store front and a stairway to the upper floor.  At the top of the structure was a brickwork cornice and a large pediment centered in the wall.  The bank itself occupied the corner space.  A chamfered corner held the front door which was flaked by two columns supporting a segment pediment.  Above the door was a set of double windows and beyond that, a set of small double windows set in a diminutive tower capped by a hipped peaked roof.  By the 1930's it no longer fit the needs of the bank and was replaced with a neoclassic style building.  
The First National Bank of Menasha was established in 1887 and was by January 1 of 1888 doing business from a William Waters designed building.  The bank was on Main Street, located on the square and faced north.  Constructed of limestone and red pressed brick it had two entrances with large transoms on either side of an imposing arched window.   Given the situation of the building the windows permitted a great deal of light to fill the lobby.   Rough hewn limestone was used for the foundation, lintels and trim while the remainder of the building was red brick.  There were four large window across the second floor and above them were panels of decorative brick flanking a large stone inscribed with the word "Bank".  Menasha's semi-centennial souvenir booklet publish in 1893 called the building one of the architectural ornaments of the city. The refurbished building is still there but put to other use. 
On June 25,1891 the Oshkosh Northwestern Weekly newspaper published a lengthy biography of William Waters, including a list of his many accomplishments.  Banks in both Neenah and Menasha were part of that list.  There is also in the William Waters' archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum a photograph of the Menasha bank. 

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part Two

It was a bank in Appleton that gave William Waters his first opportunity to design a bank building.  The history of early Appleton banking owes a great deal to David Smith, the subject of a post from July 9th, 2013.  Mr Smith founded The Bank of Appleton which would later become the First National Bank, he would also go on to start the Manufactures Bank.  The First National Bank by 1871 was a well established institution and required more appropriate offices.  An article in The Oshkosh City Times of September 20, 1871 stated that architect Waters was drawing plans for a new bank in Appleton which was to be 22' x 80' and two stories high, of brick and stone.  The new building was located on the southwest corner of College Avenue and Appleton Street.  The bank was of a classical style with the front elevation having four segmented pilaster supporting a frieze inscribed with the word "Bank".  Between the center pilasters was an arched opening with double doors and transom flanked by large arched windows.  Above the frieze were three window between corner pilaster which supported brackets under a cornice, each window was adorned with an ornate window crown.  Beyond the cornice were posts corresponding to the pilasters of the first floor with parapets between.  
The bank remained there until 1932 when  a new structure was built across the street.  A jewelry store was the first post bank occupant, followed by a myriad of tenants and ill conceived renovations.  In recent times the building has under gone another remodeling more in keeping with the original style.  Mr. Waters next Appleton bank was The Manufacturers Bank, yet another financial enterprise of David Smith.  There were no newspaper announcements to herald the banks construction, just an old unidentified photograph to show that William Waters drew the plans among those of the Oshkosh Public Museum archives.  While looking through old postcards of Appleton I spotted the building on a card of the intersection of College and Morrison Street, further research relieved that it was The Manufactures Bank.  The bank was doing business from 1871 until 1885 when it merged with Commercial National Bank.  The building then become the home of the Crescent Press, which later merged with the Appleton Post.  A verity businesses occupied the building until it was razed
The last of Mr. Waters' Appleton bank building was by far the largest and most elegant.  A notice appeared in the Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern of May 19, 1881 telling of the many projects the architect was working on.  In Appleton there was listed a building for a newly organized bank, of brick, sixty by ninety feet, three stories high with the top floor to finished off as a Masonic Hall.   The cost was to be $15,000 with the vault costing several thousand more.  The bank was the Commercial National Bank which was located on the southwest corner of College Avenue and Oneida Street.  The brick used in its' construction was a cream color and there were bands and accents of darker brick.  In addition to the bank there were two retail space on the first floor.  Access to the upper floors was gained by way of two stairways, one on the north side of the building and the other on the east side.  The bank entrance was at the base of a chamfered corner which rose two more stories to a set of small triplet windows crowned by date inscribed pediment, such as those seen on other Waters' buildings.  The building was a fixture at that location until a winters' night in 1928 when it burned to the ground.     

Friday, May 9, 2014

Bills' Banks, Part One

Through out his career, William Waters designed sixteen bank buildings, some of which have already been mentioned in this forum and all will be reviewed in the next few posts.  A quick litany would list five banks in Oshkosh, although one was not built solely as a bank, three in Appleton and one each in Neenah, Menasha, Ripon, Waupaca, Shawano, Marshfield, Stevens Point, Merrill and Phillips.  Oshkosh was Mr.Waters' home base so it's natural that the bulk of his banks would be located there.  The great fire of 1875 brought a commission from H. B. Jackson for a building on Main Street.  Waters employed a template that proved very successful; two store fronts separated by a stairway to the second floors' offices or apartments.  Although the building was not specifically designed as a bank one half was occupied by the Commercial Bank and the other by Wilson Hardware Company and the building is still there on Main Street in Oshkosh.  Another post fire structure which was designed for the purpose of banking was the Union Bank on the northwest corner of High and Main Streets.  At the time it was built it was regarded by some as one of the most beautiful and functional banking structures.  It is more fully reported upon in a post "After the Fire", from September 8, 2010.   
Architect Waters' next Oshkosh house of finance was built just across the street from the Union Bank, on the southwest corner of High and Main Streets.  By 1882 the Commercial Bank had out grown its' store front quarters on Main Street, a new, larger, modern and impressive building was called for.  The architect did not disappoint.  The two story edifice of rough hewn lime stone gave the impression of solidity and strength.  On the ground floor along the north elevation were four openings with jack arch lintels three of which were windows and the forth was access to the stairway to the upper floor.  The chamfered corner of the bank held the front entrance, two doors were centered between two columns supporting a lime stone pediment. Above the entrance was a large window and beyond that was a set of small triplet windows crowned by a pediment inscribed with the date of construction.  Mr. Waters used this chamfered corner design in several other building.  The east elevation was small.  On  the ground floor was a set of double windows and two single windows on the floor above.  About the top of the walls was a cornice of three smooth lime stone blocks each stepped a little further out than the last.  The very top of the walls were finished with three courses of lime stone block and cap stones.  
The building is still there yet greatly altered, the windows along the north side had been closed up and memorial plaques to war dead installed.  Gone too was the front entrance, replaced by large display windows and large window on the second floor.
Two more banks were to come from the drawing board of William Waters.  In 1904 he planned the the New German American Bank and seven years later the State Bank of Oshkosh.  A more in depth story of these two is to be found in the post "A Tale of Two Banks" of June 6, 2010.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Mac Kinnon's Menasha Mansion

D. T. H. Mac Kinnon was a capitalist, entrepreneur and inventor.  Among his business ventures were a pulley factory, excelsior mill for which he invented a more efficient knife and paper mills.  Duncan was born in 1852 in England, the son of Capt. Lauchlan Mac Kinnon of the Royal Navy.  Captain Mac Kinnon met former Wisconsin territorial  governor, James Doty in 1849 while in Washington D. C. and traveled with him to Menasha. The captain loaned Doty money with the governor's land holdings as security.  The upshot of it all this was the governor defaulted and Mac Kinnon acquired land in Menasha.  In time the captains sons Falkland and Duncan came to this county and were managing things in Wisconsin.   Falkland moved on to Wausau and then Wisconsin Rapids and Duncan made his fortune in Menasha.  
By 1898 Mr. Mac Kinnon wanted a fine home.  Like many other wealthy Menashans  he sought the services of William Waters to be his architect.  But unlike others, Mr. Mac Kinnon didn't build his house on East Forest Avenue in Neenah, instead he chose the corner of First and Milwaukee Streets just north of the business district.  Architect Waters designed a massive twenty four room Queen Anne Style house with large bay windows, irregular fenestration and high roof with many dormers. When finished in 1899 there were  front and back parlors, music room, dining room, bath and kitchen on the first floor.  On the second floor were seven bedrooms, sewing room and three bathrooms, the third floor was a ballroom.   It was a late Queen Anne Style and had it been constructed of stone it may have looked like a French chateau.  It must have been truly magnificent when new but like so many large, grand houses it was costly to maintain.  It was converted to The Sunset Haven Nursing home, fire escapes where added and it was clad with aluminum siding which altered it's once grand appearance to shabby.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One Mystery Solved

Many years ago my son, then four years old and I drove from Waukesha to Oshkosh to keep an appointment I'd made with the archivist of the Oshkosh Public Museum to view the file on William Waters. Once there, Tommy occupied himself with some toys and I donned a pair of white cotton gloves and perused the contents of the Waters' file. Among the materials were some black, photo cover pages as if from a disassembled album.  Most of the buildings pictured there were familiar to me but some were not.  I arraigned with the archivist, Mr. Scott Cross for copies of the mystery buildings and since that time I've searched for their identity, with some success.  Recently I conducted an online search and was directed to The Old Third Ward Association, in Appleton.  There were pictured there, many houses designed by architect Waters familiar to me but one address was not.  I closely examined the image and read the paragraph about the house.  I recognized it as one the last buildings I had yet to identify.
It was the home of George Gerry an Appleton lumber dealer.  Mr. Gerry was born in Canada in 1840 and was the owner of Gerry Lumber.  In 1882 he commissioned William Waters to design his dwelling.  It was situated on a corner and  fronted on Cherry St. which later became Memorial Dr.  The front door was on a diminutive front porch with large ornately turned posts with a window over it on the second floor.  To the left, around the corner was another entrance, perhaps to an office and even further along the side of the house was one more door.  To the right of the front door were two windows and two windows above with a set of small twin windows in the gable.   On the right side of the house was a large bay window.  The interior walls were frescoes done by J. Frank Waldo who often worked with Mr. Waters, based on that connection the Third Ward Association correctly concluded that William Waters was the architect.  The house was moved about one hundred feet east from its' original location in order to make way for a row of multiple family houses.  What was once the front of the house became the side of the house, the front porch was removed and the door covered over.  Gone too was the "office door" and what had been a side entrance was made to be the front door, other alteration occurred as well. The barn at the back of the house was converted into a dwelling.  

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Buildings of the North, Part Three

Ashland Wisconsin in the late nineteenth century was a robust and growing city with many large impressive buildings.  Structures of three or four stories were not uncommon, one such building was the Bristol Block.  Built in 1894 by business partners E. J. Born and T. J. Bristol the building bore Mr. Bristol's name and housed the jewelry store of Mr. Born, of which Mr. Bristol held a half interest.  A full description of the store and building was published in the Ashland Daily Press - Annual Edition,1894 and was said to have some of the finest offices in the city, on the second floor.  The article failed to mention the architect and the sole proof of William Waters' authorship of the plans was a photograph of the structure found in a portfolio of his work at the archives of the Oshkosh Public Museum.  Mr. Waters had designed many buildings using the lime stone quarried in Oshkosh and the brown stone of the north was little different.
The Bristol Block like most of the stone structures in Ashland was built of that native brown stone, quarried near by.  It was four stories high, perhaps one the tallest commercial building to come from Waters' drawing board and had two retail spaces on the ground floor, separated by a stairway to the upper floors.  The second floor at center had a set of double windows and balcony and above that another balcony and a set of triplet windows on the third level, these were flanked by bay windows.  The top floor was perhaps a work shop and had two sets of nine small windows on either side of an arch at the center divided into thirteen windows.  A variety of businesses had occupied the building's first floor: a jewelry store. haberdashery and a drug store.  Lawyers, a seamstress and the telephone exchange had all found a place on the upper floors.  Some years ago a bank purchased the building, refurbishing the office space to their use and as rental space.

P. S.   Mr. Waters was also cited as the architect of two schools in Ashland.  It is unclear which two were of his design but they were likely the two commissioned by the school board in 1872 and built that same year. All other Ashland schools of the nineteenth century were the work of Henry Wildhagen or the firm of Conover and Porter.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Buildings of the North, Part Two

Price County Wisconsin was created by the Wisconsin State Legislature in March of 1879.  The county was formed from portion of Lincoln and Chippewa counties and named for T. W. Price, president of the state senate and logging magnate in that part of the state. With the construction of railroads population centers where no longer bound to a close proximity to waterways such as a river to transport goods and materials. The community of Phillips was one such village, a fast growing town, it was selected as the county seat.   Mr. Waters was credited with the design of three building in that city: the courthouse, school and the Citizens' Bank.  In the April 3, 1880 edition of the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern there appeared a notice of solicitation for sealed bids for the construction of a courthouse at Phillips, the structure was finished that years at a cost of $10,000.  The subject of the courthouse was covered in a post dated 8/8/2012.  
In addition to the courthouse, it was cited in The Commemorative Biographical Record of the Fox River Valley, that Waters also designed a school and bank. Both where most likely built of wood, as that was the most abundant building material on hard.  The school built in 1884 was undoubtedly the work of architect Waters and served until 1891 when it was demolish and replaced by a larger building.  As for the bank, local historians find no record of the Citizens' Bank at all.  Very little survived the fire of 1894 including photographs of the city before the conflagration and those that do, don't show the buildings in question. There are no written descriptions of the buildings from which one might extrapolate a drawing.  Perhaps one day images will be found but until then their appearance will remain a mystery.