Thursday, September 24, 2015

More Oshkosh Buildings, Part Six

 It has been stated in this blog on other occasions that by the turn of the twentieth century Oshkosh was well established as a center of commerce and population and working to cast off vestiges of the past century. Many of the Italianate or Second Empire style homes were replaced by more fashionable trends in architecture and commercial buildings experienced changes in appearance as well. One such business was S. M. Hay Hardware, located at the corner of Pearl and Main Streets. The company had occupied the corner since 1848 and put up a new building after the fire of 1875 which was most likely the work of William Waters in as much as Mr. Waters was the architect of Mr. Hay's 1873 residence built on Algoma Blvd.
By 1903 Hay Hardware, a purveyor of stoves and other large goods wanted a better display space. The old building had three arched opening along the front on the first floor which were not conducive to product display and the company decided the remodel the building. An article in The Daily Northwestern of May 26, 1903 there was a detailed description of what was to be done; the front of the building was to be removed. The three arched openings which hindered the proper display of merchandise were to be replaced by large plate glass windows. An attractive entrance with display windows was to be add to the Division St. side of the building. The missive further states that the plans were drawn by a local architect, it was not until August 8 in another release that Mr. Waters was named as the planner.  
What emerged after the remodeling was a three story red brick building with large display window on the first floor and oversize widows on the upper floors. Classical details such as a cornice with dentils adorned the top of the structure. The first floor was occupied by the hardware company and the second and third floors were offices. After the Hay Company closed other retailers took over the first floor. The building was razed in the 1960's.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Twentieth Century Club

The story of the Twentieth Century Club’s meeting place is long and convoluted, its start with the home of Joel Mead, a lumberman and partner in the Mead and Ripley Company. Mr. Mead built his Italianate house circa 1860 on the corner of Wisconsin Ave. and High Street, his partner Sylvanus Ripley built his house around the corner on Algoma Blvd. In 1900 the heirs of Joel Mead either sold or bequeathed the house to The Ladies Benevolent Society. The group had been around for many years and maintained the Home for the Friendless a home for elderly and indigent old women. The home was a small old house located on Main Street and it was the hope of some the club members to convert the Mead place into the groups’ headquarters and home for the friendless. The leaders of the society even went so far as to hier William Waters to draw plans for an eight room addition and other improvements. The next monthly meeting was poorly attended but the society voted any way to move ahead with the renovation plan. The next week there was yet another meeting where it was reviled that a $10,000 bequest from the estate of the Senator Sawyer was only good if a new building were to be constructed. The senator’s son Edger assured the ladies that an endowment of $10.000 would be set aside should the society ever decide to build a new home. A few days later those members against the plan made their opposition known.

So great was the argument stated that Ladies Benevolent Society abandoned plan to renovation the Mead House and sold it to the Twentieth Century Association for $5,000. The Twentieth Century Association was formed in 1898 to promote music and art in the community. Their plan was to renovate the house, making it into a modern club house to be used by various clubs. By April of 1901 the firm of William Waters & Son had drawn plans and bids were let for the remodeling which was expected to cost $10.000.  The club house was completed by mid October of 1901 with the first use coming on the last day of that month.  The club sold the building in 1968 and has since been converted to student housing.