Friday, March 11, 2016

Bandstand on the Square

In the nineteenth century there were phonographs which reproduced music after a fashion but no radios, television or computers on which to share popular music, live performances were the way most popular music was transmitted. Oshkosh had a lively theatrical and musical scene with many venues for entertainment of all sorts. The Grand Opera House was host to many vaudeville shows and the city had several noteworthy bands. In the summer band concerts were often held outdoors and were very popular with the denizens of Oshkosh. The Oshkosh Weekly Northwestern of July 23 1891 reported that at a recently held outdoor band concert the band was encumbered by the large crowd and a movement was forming to build a band stand in Opera House Square. There was great enthusiasm at first with a petition being presented to the city council asking that the fountain on the square be move and the band stand be built according to plans drawn by William Waters. A subscription campaign was started, the city council appropriated $500 for the project and work started on the foundation. It was decided that the square should be repaved as well and by early October came the announcement that the band stand would not be built until the spring. In April of 1892 the Oshkosh Times urged the city to finish the project but the city was reluctant to authorized more funds. For the rest of the year and the year that followed, city hall bickered about the finances.

Finally in the spring of 1894 construction was started and four limestone arched were built. In the mist of the arches was the fountain and the walls held up a deck from which the band would play. Around the deck was a metal railing with uprights and frame work to support a canopy. The band stand adorned the square until 1907, that was the year it was announced that Col, Hicks would erect a civil war solder monument in the square. It was decided that that band stand should be relocated to North Park. There were a few newspaper notices about the move but nothing to indicate if indeed it was moved or where in the park it was put. A notice of a concert in North Park by the Arion Band was publisher in the summer of 1908 and in June of 1927 Fluor Brothers won the bid to build new band stand, which would imply that the structure had been moved and was in need of being replaced by the late 1920's. 

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