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.

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