Tuesday, April 28, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Four

Mr. Waters continued to get commissions for commercial structures and the Oshkosh business district extending well beyond Main Street. For blocks on either side of Main there were hotels, warehouses, train depots and offices.  Algoma Blvd. for one was lined with the buildings of fraternal organizations, churches, warehouses and an empty lot or two.  In 1889 Moses Hooper had William Waters draw plans for an office building to be built on the north side of Algoma just past the Beckwith House.  It was to be constructed of local limestone, two stories high with an ample basement. Attorney Hooper had hired Waters seven years earlier to plans his residence next to the Normal School further up Algoma Blvd. That building too was of limestone and stands to this day as does the Algoma Building.
Moses Hooper, a very successful lawyer was born in Massachusetts, studied law there and came west in 1857 settling in Neenah and later moved to Oshkosh.  He made his reputation dealing with water rights, was also Kimberly Clark's business attorney and his office occupied one of the many in the Algoma Building.  Just south of the Algoma Building, on Monument Square was another Waters' building. My research has not reviled for whom or what year it was built or the building's early occupants.  In a photograph from the 1920's an F. W. Woolworth sign hung above the door.  It was no doubt the back entrance to the store for at the time of the photo Woolworth's had a Main Street address.  
The building was of classic William Waters styling: constructed in the two store front template, of cream colored brick with limestone trim and lintels.  Above the second floor windows were two pseudo gables trimmed with limestone and each holding a set of small triplet windows.  The building was demolished many years ago.   Another Waters building was just on the other side of Main Street at number 11 Waugoo Avenue.  According to the state historical society the building was built in 1891 with an addition in 1894.  It's first tenants were the North Pacific Express Company and Eagle Portrait Company.  There was no information as to who commissioned the building.
Mr. Waters employed the two store front and central stairway arrangement that had proved so effective.  The building was built of cream colored brick with accents of dark brick.  Along the top of the building was a cornice of alternating stepped out courses, just below the cornice was some intricate brickwork.  A stack of three bricks was as long as one brick, using that ratio Waters created a basket weave effect by placing a dark brick between two cream colored and alternated them vertically and horizontally.  For many years the fancy brickwork was hidden under several coats of paint but was recently cleaned away.      

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Call to Action!

  A situation has developed in Oshkosh concerning a beautiful old house and the needs of a cultural institution.  The Paine Art Center, one of the cultural gems of the city wishes to build a parking lot on land just to the north of the art center.  The problem is the property is occupied by a 104 year old brick colonial style house. The Paine owns the house and has offered to sell it for one dollar to anyone who will move it.  I feel it is important that the Paine Art Center realize it's ambition to provide parking and access for the handicapped and disabled.  I also feel Oshkosh should not, if possible, sacrifice another elegant old home.  The technology exists to move the house.  The question is who would take up the challenge of such a daunting task and where would one move it to?   Why bother to save the house anyway?
The house is significant as it contributes to the architectural variety of the historic neighborhood.  It was designed by William Waters in 1911 for bank president Louis Schriber and is a classic example of Colonial Style architecture.  It would be a shame to allow the building to be razed as so many other  Oshkosh landmarks have been.  A lively debate has been joined on Facebook, with many people expressing concern.  I urge interested citizens to join together and search for a solution, after all this is the city that saved the Grand Opera House.                                                                                          

The past year, 2014 was not a good year for the dwindling number of Waters' building.  The old First National Bank of Menasha and Menasha Hotel were demolished and now the prospect looms that the Schriber residence would fall to the wrecking ball.  I do not live in Oshkosh but Oshkosh will always live in me, it is the city of my nativity and I'm proud to say so.  I will do all I can to help save this house but the concerned citizens of Oshkosh and the Paine Art Center need to work together. There can be no complacence or apathy on the part of those who would save the building.  The Paine Art Center must exercise patience restraint until a buyer is found and a plan put into place.  This house can stand for another one hundred years and more if a workable plan is conceived and executed.

P.S.  Good news, a plan to move the Schriber was announced on 9/27/15.  The building will be moved to a lot on the corner of Algoma and Arboretum some time early in 2016.