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.