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. 


  1. Found some great buildings up in Ashland and all of the other northern towns that had been known or his designs. I found many residences and commercial buildings that have classic waters trademarks. In Ashland there were 3 homes in a row a block from my hotel I am certain were waters designs. There is also a former bank building that has the same brick detail that the athearn hotel had. I also purchased a couple of history books that show at least 2 homes you look at and say that's a waters design. I'll be going back up this fall to actually look up microfilms at the research center. Also saw a lot of buildings in unmentioned towns along the same old rail lined that I need to research because there are so many trademark designs used up there. Especially bank buildings.

  2. Great Dave, I'm eager to talk to you about your trip.

  3. sad this this building is about to be taken down....shame on Menasha