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.