Thursday, February 25, 2016

Oshkosh Parochial Schools

The public schools of Oshkosh have already been covered in previous posts but not all the schools of Oshkosh have been discussed. All the Catholic congregations had schools as did some of the Lutheran churches. Mr. Waters designed churches for two Catholic parishes and the schools which were to follow. The first parochial school was for St. Vincent de Paul on Oregon Street. An announcement for the taking of bids appeared in the newspapers of May 1874 and there followed in July a missive on the laying of the cornerstone. That was all the Oshkosh press had to report on the matter, it being quite common place for south side projects to receive little or no attention in the pages of the papers. Soon a fine brick school stood on the lot adjacent to the church and rectory. The building was three stories high with a tower at the front and center, a feature that along the church spire would dominate the south side skyline for fifty years. In 1889 the school was expanded. This time the newspaper were a little more generous this their coverage. The Oshkosh Times of August 7, 1889 ran a story about the addition to be erected next to the existing building. The details were that the annex was to be built of brick, measuring 40 x 80 and two stories high with a large hall to occupy the second floor. St. Vincent parish covered the block fronting on Oregon Street from South Park Avenue to Twelfth Avenue. The congregation replaced the old church in 1914 and by 1930 the old school was replaced as well.
Architect Waters also planned St Peter's Church and that congregation built a school in the summer 1884. It's unclear if Waters designed that early structure but photographs reveal some details that were commonly used by Mr. Waters. What is a fact is that in June of 1913 plans were announced for a new Catholic high school. By July The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern published a full description replete with architect Waters' rendering. The basement was to be devoted to club activity with billiard, reading rooms, bowling allies and a swimming tank on one side of the building and on the other there was to a gymnasium 40 x 70, two stories high. The first and second floors were going to be outfitted with commodious class rooms and an auditorium on the top floor above the gymnasium. All this was to cost $35,000 or $50,000 with the addition of the land purchase need to build. Some years later a large gymnasium was built adjacent to the school giving more room for classes. Eventually the building became an elementary school and in the 1960's an addition was placed on the front of the school.
I attended grade school at St Peter's and have many fond memories of the place.  I also attended kindergarten at Longfellow School which was also a Waters' design and noticed the similarities in the two schools.  Some years ago the Catholic churches of Oshkosh were reorganized and what was St. Peter became Most Blessed Sacrament Parish and the school is still in use.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Colonial Revival Style

As the nineteenth century was coming to an end America's architectural tastes were changing.  The picturesque styles for house architecture such as Italianate and Queen Anne were no longer vogue, replaced by Colonial Revival, Bungalow, Tudor or Foursquare.   William Waters was an architect who changed with the times, working in the latest styles as per his client's wishes.  Mr. Waters examples of Colonial Revival are few but impressive.  One of the architects' earliest efforts was the 1903 Oshkosh Yacht Club on the lake shore at the foot of Washington Avenue, a tour de force of colonial grace and style.  Not built as a house but a club house it would have made an impressive mansion.

Further examples of Mr. Waters' work in this style don't come along until 1911 with the  design of a home for bank president Louis Schreiber, a brick structure on Algoma Blvd. adjacent to the Paine Art Museum.  The residence was the ideal of a colonial style home of the twentieth century and recently was the center of concern when the art museum offered it for the price of a dollar to anyone who would move it.  A happy ending has played out with an agreement to relocate the building not far away.  

Yet another colonial revival dwelling was one designed in 1915 for Mrs. Catherine Noyes.  Mrs Noyes was the widow of Dr. J. C. Noyes and after her husband's passing she had a fine new home built on Court Street only a block away from her former residence.  The house was of frame construction with two stories and a side porch on the first floor.  Mrs. Noyes lived in the house for many years and after her death the place became a gift shop.  The house was razed many years ago to make way for a parking lot.
Mr. Waters' practice started to slow as the new century aged.  Although still well respected William Waters had greater competition from younger, more aggressive architects.  Waters made drawings and sketches of houses, perhaps as ideas to present to prospective clients but it's unclear if any were built.  

To my  recollection there are only thses few expressions of Colonial Revival Style to architect Waters' credit.