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.


  1. I went to the veteran's home about a month ago and when I was taking pictures of all the small old cottages aND a veteran came up to me and told me that there are going to be torn down soon because of asbestos or something like that I almost cried

  2. Wow, that would be a shame. Let's hope that person was wrong.

  3. The veteran was mistaken, the cottages are being left to fall down. No repairs will be done