Thursday, January 28, 2016

The Green Bay Reformatory

In 1897 the Wisconsin legislature appropriated $75,000 for the construction of a reformatory for the housing and reformation of criminals from 17 to 30 years of age. A large tract of land in Allouez, just east of the Fox River near Green Bay was purchased and architects A. C. Clas of Milwaukee and John Charles of Menomonie there chosen to plan the building. An impressive and intimidating building of large granite blocks rose from the field near the river bank. There was a central pavilion stretching to the east and a wing at a right angle to that building running off to the south.  It was always the intention to build a north cell block as money was approved by the legislature.  
In 1901 it was clear that more cells were needed the lawmakers were considering a funding bill, part of which provided $88.000 for the reformatory at Green Bay. In late February of that year the Oshkosh Northwestern reported under the headline “Oshkosh Architects Win” that the firm of William Waters and Son were to furnish the plans for the addition to the Green Bay prison. The newspaper was clear that addition was intended to finish the partially completed building. The expansion called for a three story cell block measuring 176 feet long and 61 feet wide and would hold forty-six cells on each floor and to be constructed on the north side of the central building. Architects Clas and Charles had chosen the Romanesque Style for the original building with large arched openings for entrances and windows. The pair may even presented rendering showing the prison with north and south wings. The plans drawn by Waters and son for the north wing were a mirror image of the south wing, giving the structure a finish and unified look.
In late May of 1901 the state was receiving bids for a $100,000 addition. The state got only three bids, one form Meyer and Domke of Oshkosh, which was the low bid and two from Milwaukee contractors. The board deciding the matter was of the opinion that a choice of three bids would not serve the citizens well and called for and new round bidding. A contractor was finally selected and the north wing was finished, the prison is still in use.  

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