Monday, April 25, 2016

Brooklyn Fire House

When William Waters came to Oshkosh he wasted no time in finding work and establishing himself as an architect. Some of his early commissions came from the city of Oshkosh and in May of 1868 the young architect was preparing plans for a new forth ward school house to be erected of Jefferson St., there was also that month a notice to builders, published in the paper advertising for bids on the construction of an engine house in the third ward, the plan for which could be seen at the office of Mr. Waters. By the end of June the Oshkosh City Times wrote a brief description of the south side fire house, calling it the handsomest building of it's kind in the city and praising the large decorative cornice and Nicolson pavement of the equipment deck. (Nicolson pavement is of wooden blocks.) Even more praise came from Oshkosh Journal of August 8, 1868 which ranked it as one of the finest fire houses in the state. Noting its' ornamental bell and look out tower, the article stated, “Architecturally the building is well harmonized, and is a specimen of fine taste and good workmanship.”
The building must have impressed more than just the newspaper reporters because the city of De Pere built a structure nearly identical to it which served as fire house and city hall. There are no records which establish William Waters as the architect or someone else for that matter.  
The Brooklyn fire house served the south side of Oshkosh unaltered for nine years, then an addition was erected to accommodate a hook and ladder truck. The Oshkosh Daily Northwestern of 7/22/1879 gave comprehensive summery of the new building, describing its' many attributed and incorporation into the existing fire house. The modifications satisfied the fire departments' needs until 1946 when a new station was built many blocks to the south. For years the building was the home of the Wisconsin Sign Company and was placed on the National Register in 1969 with major restoration following.

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