Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Winnebago Gun Club

In March of 1899 the Winnebago Gun Club, at its' regular meeting decided to build a club house. Architect William Waters was there and presented plans for a utilitarian building to accommodated the club's needs. The Winnebago Gun Club was organized by shooter to improve and promote the sport of marksmanship. In the summer of 1899 the club was to have the second annual shooting tournament to be held at the Heisinger Farm across from Riverside cemetery and a suitable building was needed. The plan called for a structure one story high, 16' x 32' with the front portion devoted to a large open veranda. The enclosed portion of the building was to have lockers and gun racks, all for the expenditure of $200. The contract for construction went to Fluor Brothers and the club house was to be finished in two weeks.   

By early July of that summer everything was ready for the big tournament. The new club house was finished and painted and a chimney was added for the preparation of lunch. By all accounts the building was perfect for club's needs. The tournament that summer was also a great success, the club made enough money to erase all its' debts. It's unclear what became of the Winnebago Gun Club and it's diminutive club house. The farmland was developed as a neighborhood and the Winnebago Gun Club ceased to be.  

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Could be the Union Club.

I have in my collection a rendering of what appears to be a club house.  It isn't labeled in any way except to say it came from the office of Wm. Waters and Son.  That is significant as it dates the drawing to 1900.  For many years I've tried to identify the building, asking groups in Fond du Lac, Appleton and Green Bay if it was in their city.  No one could recognize it.  I concluded the place was never built.  That still left unanswered the question “What was it?”   Recently I decided to revisit my quest to ascertain the identity of the building and turned to the book “A Compilation of Articles Pertaining to the Works of William Waters”   There in the section about Oshkosh Societies, Clubs and Organizations were several newspapers write-ups about the Union Club.  This organization was brought about with the merger of the Crescent Club and Business Man Club and was housed on the second floor of the building on the south east corner of Main Street and Washington Ave. The space had proven to be inadequate and unattractive. 
The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of February 5, 1901 reported on the proceeding of the annual meeting of the Union Club and highlighted the discussion of a club house.  There had been some talk of building some years earlier but nothing came of it.  There seemed to be renewed enthusiasm for the project and William Waters and his son were in attendance to present their plans for a suitable club house.  The plan called for a building of stone and pressed brick at a cost of $15,000 but no location was reviled for the proposed structure.   Over the next few weeks more articles appeared in the press and seem to urge the Union Club and the Elks to build a club house that would be an ornament to the city especially given the wealthy members of the clubs.  Again nothing came of this attempt to construct a club house and the Union Club eventually disbanded.  I can not say for a certainty the rendering here is the proposed Union Club, but it could be.