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.

No comments:

Post a Comment