Wednesday, October 18, 2017

A Circumstantial Case

I’ll be honest and say I’ve got some misgivings about declaring these next two houses as the work of William Waters but one could make a strong circumstantial case for that thesis.  Not too long ago I noticed a similarity between two houses in Oshkosh, one on High Avenue and the other on Scott Avenue.  They shared many of the same features but were mirror images of one another.  Both dwelling had large front porches covered by a long sloping roofs and in the center of that roof was a dormer with a door which opened on to a balcony with a railing, to one side rose a tower with a steep conical roof. 
 The house on Scott Avenue appears much as it did when built in 1898 for Robert Grandy a foreman with the Morgan Company. The gable ends were covered with shingles, the second story was a combination of clapboard and shingles, while the first floor was clad with clapboard.  The roof was dominated by a dormer at center with a gabled roof and door flanked windows.  I had seen dormers like that on homes designed by Mr. Waters, notably the A. B. Ideson residence in Oshkosh, built 1898 and the C. W. Howard house in Neenah
The house on High Avenue was also constructed in 1898 but may have been altered from the original.  It would be likely that this house too had a cone shaped roof that was may have been removed for a verity of reasons.  It may have been a coincidence that William Waters played the base drum for the renowned Arions Band and that the High Avenue house was built for Professor A. D. Amsden the director of the Arions Band
That is as compelling a case as I can make for the assertion that the homes of Robert Grandy and Professor Amsden were from and drafting table of William Waters.       

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

All Around the Town

 Four more houses I believed to be the work of Mr. Waters were two on the east side and the others near the Normal School, all around the town if you will.  The first one was the residence of Marrian Ebernau a painter and wallpaper hanger.  Mr. Ebernau had for many years lived on Ceape Street but at a verity of addresses and in 1891 his dwelling was listed as 269 Ceape Street.  The 1898 directory lists the same address for Marrian and other occupants as well, Albert, Bertha and Ida but doesn’t reveal the relationship to Marrian.  Perhaps they were wife, son and daughter or all siblings.  The house at 269 Ceape Street (That’s the old number.) was a large home with plenty of room and could easily accommodate a lager family.  It displayed the hallmarks of a Waters’ Queen Anne Cottage; a front facing gable portion at a right-angle to the main body of the house with a long slopping roof which covered the front porch.  On the left side of the house was an elegant curved bracket which supported one end of the side gable.

The residence of Frank Favour on Bowen Street was a few blocks to the north of the Ebernau place.  Frank was half of the partnership, Welch and Favour, proprietors of the sample room at the Tremont Hotel.  Mr. Favour’s house was likely built in 1896 or 97 and exhibits feature shared with other Waters’ dwellings but with a twist.  The long slopping roof which usually came off the main portion of the house in this case came off the front gable and covered the front porch.
In 1891 Rush Brown had a fine home built on the corner of W. New York Avenue and Western Street.  Rush was of the Brown family of Cook and Brown Lime Company but worked for the McMillen Company.  Mr. Brown’s house, like the John Washburn residence on Mt Vernon Street had a front gable nearly as wide as the main body of the house but in this permutation, there was an open porch or balcony above the front porch.  Along the Western Street side was an elegant bracket supporting one end of the gable and a bay which went from the foundation to the roof line.
Another dwelling built in 1891 and surly the work of William Waters was on Scott Street, the home of George Johnson a scaler for the Conlee Lumber Company. A scaler would measure the cut trees to determine the volume and quality of wood, scalers were better educated and made more money than the lumber-jacks. Mr. Johnson’s house was very much like the J. A. Nemitz place on Jefferson Street but was a mirror image and not as ornate.  As with other buildings of this style there was the front gable and main body of the house with a portion of the roof covering the front porch, a dormer with a bay window like front perched above the porch.   
 

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Moven’ On Up to the East-side

As stated in other posts, the near east-side neighborhoods of Oshkosh were very popular with doctors, lawyers, professionals and business owners and William Waters was often the choice of architect of those who built there.  Jefferson and Mt Vernon Street were favored for their proximity to the business district and government buildings.  One such business professional was Maurice O’Brien a life insurance salesperson, who in 1890 had a Queen Anne cottage built on the west-side of Jefferson Street just south of what is now Parkway Avenue.  It was a simple design with a few architectural ornaments and was a pretty house.  The structure’s main portion ran parallel to the street. On the left end of the house at a right angle to main portion was a gable and to the right of that a long slopping roof with a dormer   As the years went on other families moved in and the house deteriorated, many ill-conceived and poorly executed “improvement” were made, robbing building of all grace and charm.  It stands today almost unrecognizable from what it had been.
Just north of the O’Brien house was another dwelling surly from the drafting table of Mr. Waters, it was the residence of J. A. Nemitz and it was constructed in 1892.  Mr. Nemitz was a merchant tailor and dealt in clothing, furnishings, caps, hats, trunks and valises.  He and his business partner, C. R. Boardman maintained an establishment at number 44 Main Street and in 1891 Mr. Nemitz was living at 196 Tenth Street, south of the river.  His new house, north of the river was a tour de force of Queen Anne design and ornamentation. The building shared much the same layout as the smaller O’Brien place next door but with an ostentation of decoration; there were rosettes at the corners of the window frames, art glass window panels and a dormer above the front porch with a balcony and towering spindle on the roof, a truly handsome dwelling.  Alas as the businesses along Main Street expanded it was demolished to make room.  
There was on Mt. Vernon Street another house I consider to be the work of William Waters.  The home was constructed in 1895 for John R. Washburn, a lumberman in the partnership of
Washburn and Wagstaff.  Mr. Washburn had resided at 22 Jefferson Street so he had not far to move when his new abode was finished.  The house was big and something of a departure from the usual layout.  There was of course the main portion of the house but instead of a smaller transverse section to one side, the front gable ran nearly the width of the building and what might have been a dormer above the front porch was part of the front gable.  The second floor was clade in shingles with tall narrow windows in the peaks.  There was a long slopping roof which covered the porch and the first floor was sided with clapboard.  Alteration were made over the decades; the front porch pillars replaced by wrought iron standards and railings and the second-floor shingles were removed but the fenestration remained the same.   


Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Bells of St. Mary's

An Oshkosh neighborhood near the intersection of Bay and Washington Streets, within the sound of the bells of St. Mary’s Catholic church was a popular with business owners no doubt because of the proximity of Main Street and the business district. There were in that district several homes with similar features which I believe to be design by William Waters. 
 Of these houses, perhaps the first to be built, circa 1891, was the home of Mr. Robert Mehlmann, a cigar maker who arrived in Oshkosh in 1875.  In business with his brother Adolph, Robert lived on Bay Street for many years before building an eleven room Queen Anne Style house there.  His family was large, there was his wife Ida, daughter Gretchen, two sons and his sister Matilda, who ran the millinery shop on Waugoo Avenue.  The dwelling displayed the features of a Queen Anne cottage with a long sloping roof with a dormer to the left of the front gabled section.  The main part of the house had two gables on the south elevation, with a bay running from the foundation to the roof line of the secondary peak.  In all, however the building lacked ornamentation, being covered in just clapboard with scallop shingles in the gables.  The Mehlmanns moved to a house near Algoma and Murdock in 1905 and sold the Bay Street house in 1912.  After that it seems to have suffered the fate of many large nineteen century houses, it became a multi-family dwelling and over the years deteriorated and was finally demolished.
                           
At about the same time Mr. Mehlmann had his house built, Mr. Peter Stein had a fine house constructed just up the street and around the corner on Washington Avenue.  What the Mehlmann house lacked in decoration, Peter Stein’s more than made up for it.  Mr. Stein showed up in Oshkosh in 1889 and was the proprietor of the Royal Bodega sample room on Main Street and live on Waugoo Avenue.  The saloon business must have been good as Peter soon could build a fine home.  His house was in the familiar Queen Anne cottage template with some ornate features; a picture window flanked by six lights on each side adorned the center of the first floor, above that was a set of triplet window which combined with a fan light in the attic to give the look of a Palladian window and in the peak of the gable was a carved festoon.  Missing was any sort of dormer on the roof above the front porch but the elevation to the right had two gables and a full-length bay.   
This style must have had great appeal for in 1895 Charles Stroud had a house built that was a combination of the Mehlmann and Stein residences. Stroud was a partner in Stroud and Thomson, dealers in oil, lubricants and paint and business must have been good for Mr. Stroud built a fine dwelling.  Stroud’s home was just down the block from Peter Stein’s place and it appeared some-what larger but not as ornate.  There was a dormer above the front porch, not seen on the Stein house but there were double gables on the side and a two-story bay, just as with the others.         

Thursday, August 31, 2017

More of the Cottage Style

The city of Oshkosh had many houses based on the Queen Anne Cottage Style and they were not all Queen Anne or cottages, some were large and more classical in style.  William Waters may have drawn the plan for these two houses that seem to transition away from the Queen Anne, the first was a diminutive dwelling built on Fulton Avenue for J. P. Miller.  Mr. Miller was a millwright a job that was much in demand in the Oshkosh of the later 19th century.  In the mid 1880’s the Miller family including J. P.’s mother were living on Otter Avenue but in 1889 the family had moved to a fine new house on Fulton. 
The house was uncluttered with ornamentation and even lacked a dormer on the long roof above the front porch.  There were two curious design elements first the pseudo gable at left above the porch and the half window between two windows on the second floor of the front elevation. 
The residence of Martin Davidson on Wisconsin Street was built about 1890 and displayed a more classical style as well as being larger than the Miller place.  Mr. Davidson was a carpenter by trade and may have had a hand in building his house.  As with other dwelling of this style, the second floor is shingled covered and the first floor is clad in clapboard.  There was on the right side a bay which rises to the second floor and above the front porch is a small dormer.  

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

A Durable Arrangement

Mr. Waters would sometimes find a layout or template that worked well, appealed to clients and he would use variations over and over, for instance commercial building of two stores separated be a stairway to the upper floor.  The architect also had such a template for dwellings and is best exemplified by R. P. Finny’s Queen Anne cottage built in 1888 on Washington Avenue in Oshkosh. This design featured a two-story portion on the front elevation with a gabled end, transversely situated to that portion was the main body of the house, which rose slightly higher.  The main segment had gables at each end and a long slopping roof to the left of the front gable.  This long roof came down past the second story and cover the front porch, the slope often had dormers of various designs. 
There were many residences built using this plan, not all were the work of William Waters but there were several I’d long suspected as the product of his drawing board.  The staff of Oshkosh Public Museum had already researched the two houses to be covered in this post, the first is that of Charles F. Abraham on Ceape Street.  Mr. Abraham was born on September 21, 1861 and immigrated to Oshkosh in 1883 after serving in the Prussian army.  Upon arriving Charles took a job in the tailor shop of S. Eckstein and Son and soon married Clara Timm and over the years the couple have five boys.  In 1889 Mr. Abraham opened his own shop and not long after that built a fine home to house his family.  The dwelling was in the Queen Anne Style with a verity of surface coverings and interesting fenestration.  In the shingle covered front gable there was a small widow set back in the peak of the gable. Below the second story was covered with clapboards and shingles and the first floor was clad with clapboards. A small dormer with a diminutive railed balcony protruded from the long sloping roof to the left of the front gable.  Along the west side of the house at the roof line was a large bracket with an elegant curve holding up the gable end.  To my eye so many elements and details mark this house as the work of William Waters.
The next house I suspect of being the work of architect Waters was the home of Mrs. Sophia McMillen on Jefferson Street.  The house was built about 1890 for the widow of lumberman, John H. McMillen, Sophia.  The dwelling was in the Queen Anne Style and bore a great resemblance to the R. P. Finny house mentioned earlier.  There were many surface covering and details consistent with the Queen Anne Style.  The gable on the front elevation was supported by the elegant brackets so often seen in Mr. Waters’ works.  There was also in the front gable an elongated window and the side gables too had such fenestration.  A dormer with a prow gable emerged from long slope of the roof above the front porch and on the north side of the house was a feature common to this design, the stair well landing bay.  The interior stair way would rise half the distance to the second floor and then double back on itself to finish the rise the upper floor.  To provide more room architects would cantilever a landing past the exterior wall to accommodate the directional change of the stairs. 
I’m unable at this time to offer any proof of William Waters authorship of the plans for these buildings but perhaps in the future…              

Friday, August 11, 2017

Have You Met the Twins?

There are on Otter Avenue two more houses I believe to be the work of William Waters.  Located next to Peter Nicolai’s Italianate Style house these two houses are mirror images of each other and of the Queen Anne Style.  They were built in 1885 and were occupied at different times.  Presently the houses are numbered 402 and 406 but in 1886 would have carrier the numbers 93 and 97, respectively.  The dwellings are nearly duplicates of the rectory built in Appleton for the Episcopal church there.  They show many of the stylistic elements that would mark them as the work of William Waters. There are on one side elevation double gables as seen on the J. W. Kelley residence of Washington Street.  Like brackets supporting gables and eves are found on other Waters houses as well, they surly must have come from architect Waters’ drawing board.
                                            See number 5, lower right corner.



An article in the Daily Northwestern of January 2, 1886 gives a list and dollar amount for the buildings completed in 1885, two are listed on Otter Street for C. D. Heath at $2,500 each, the report doesn't name any architects.  Mr. Heath was born in Racine in and came to Oshkosh with his family in 1858.  He was proprietor of a cigar shop and later the Senate sample room on Washington Street and Athearn Hotel.  Additionally, Heath was second ward alderman and was for one week in April of 1891 the mayor of Oshkosh.  Later he and his family moved to Marinette, Wisconsin, where he ran a hotel.
The first resident of number 406 was Frank D. Topliff a partner in the dry goods house of Hough and Topliff which had two locations, one on Oregon Street and the other on Main Street. The city directory of 1886 lists Mr. Topliff’s residence as 279 Jackson Street but the 1889 register locates him on Otter Avenue.  Mr. Topliff came from New York in 1872 to Green Bay and married Miss Hoffmann while working for Seels and Best Dry Goods.  In 1879 he traveled to Oshkosh and eventually partnered with Elbert Hough in the dry goods business.  That arrangement went until 1894 when Topliff opened his own store.  He remained it business until 1915 when he and his wife retired to Green Bay.  Parenthetically Mr. Charles Heath was the Topliff Company treasurer.     

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Special Report

On July 31, 2016 I gave a presentation to the Winchester Academe, a like long learning organization based in Waupaca.  I had been eagerly anticipating the event for months and Robbi and I had assembled a fine power point lecture which covered William Waters and his work in Waupaca.
 The proceedings were well attended and the crowd enjoyed show, asking many question during the Q and A.  I saw some folks I'd not seen in years and made new acquaintances, it was a splendid evening.  My thanks to my wife Robbi, Ann Buerger Linden, Nolan, Joe and Maggie Jones and the other members of the board of Winchester Academe for making the presentation possible.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Peter Nicolai and His House

There was a fine house on Otter Avenue which I’d long admired but hadn’t considered to be the work of William Waters until just recently.  The house was built for Peter Nicolai, a prominent and colorful citizen.  ( Number 4.)
Mr. Nicolai was born in 1820 at Rhineland-Platz, Germany and immigrated to Oshkosh in 1849 making the city his home until his death fifty-one years later.  He married Appolonia Jagoditsch and they had eight children.  His obituary lists Peter as a carpenter but said he did not engage in that occupation for many years, a check of old city directories shows that Peter was a saloon keeper, restaurateur and man of leisure.  Mr. Nicolai had quite a temper and was arrested for an assault on Theodore Frenz, it seems Mr. Frenz told Peter that he’d seen his daughter at Rolla Herrmann’s saloon drinking beer with unsavory company.  Later Peter went to Mr. Herrmann and inquired if he had witnessed his daughter with undesirables, Rolla told Peter he had not and Peter left Mr. Herrmann’s establishment only to return the next afternoon in the company of Theodore Frenz.  The two strolled up to Mr. Herrmann and Peter asked if he’s seen his daughter in bad company to which Rolla said no, Mr. Nicolai then sized a duster and beat Mr. Frenz about the head with the handle to the point of drawing blood.  But I digress.
The reason I feel the Nicolai house is a Waters job is the front entrance and porches, they are
nearly identical to the entrance and porches of the Rodrick McKenzie house.  The layout of the
front elevation of both structures is the same only the scale and some details differ. 

The dates would be about the same, the McKenzie place was built about 1873 and Peter Nicolai’s 
first residual listing on Otter Avenue comes in 1876, I therefore conclude Mr. Waters to be the
architect of Peter Nicolai’s house.  I can offer no written proof of my accretion just my intuition.      

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Kings of Waugoo Avenue

There is one other house on Waugoo Avenue which I always believed to be the work of William Waters but for which I’ve no proof, just my intuition.  The house at 204 Waugoo Avenue was once one of many homes in that block but as the neighborhood changed it became the only house in that block on that side of the street.  When I was in grade school the bus, I rode home on would pass this house and I always admired the house.

 My research indicates that it was built in the early 1890’s for Peter King who was half of the partnership of the King Brothers.  F. B. King had been a resident of Oshkosh since 1863 and operated several sample rooms which seemed to be very lucrative, for F. B. King could commission William Waters to design a large house on the south west corner of Waugoo and Broad Streets.  

If Fred could hire Mr. Waters, perhaps his brother could also.  Peter’s house wasn’t as grand as his brother’s but it was a fine building, the design for which was used by others.  There was a house on Parkway Avenue which was the mirror image of the King house and the Sorensen house in Neenah was nearly identical. 

P. S.  It has come to my attention that a publication for the 1990's credits Mr. Waters as the architect of the Peter King house.     

Monday, June 19, 2017

Dream Along With Me.

                                                             
                                                             Prologue

                         The following is an illustrated day dream.  …Enjoy.

Imagine if you will that you live in a fair-sized city in Wisconsin, the year is 1885. The June morning is warm with a light breeze which feels cool.  You are strolling through a park and the leaves rustle as the breeze moves the tree tops, there is the faint sound of a morning dove.  You emerge the trees to a corner of the park where a fountain splashes water down two tiers to a large basin bellow, before you is a neighborhood of large brightly colored homes with well-kept grounds.  Across the street a boy pushes a lawn mower and can swell the fresh cut grass on the breeze, from behind you hear the approach a vehicle on the brick pavement and you turn to see a horse drawn Phaeton speed past, a distant church bell chimes the hour.
You turn left and walk down the street to the crest of a slope at the end of which is a lake shining as a sapphire on a green velvet cushion.  Thousands of bright flashes of light strike your eyes as the breeze turned surface reflects the sun light.  Cumulus clouds indolently drift by as your gaze falls upon a mother pushing her infant son in a carriage and her daughter tags along.  The mother hums a tune as the little girl chatters about the long walk home and other childish concerns.  The young mother notices you and calls out a greeting, you reply “Good morning”.  She pushes the carriage up to the gray house, picks up her baby and she and the children go into the house.  You cross the street, walk toward the white Queen Anne cottage last in the row, you’re home after your morning walk.

                                                                      The End

P. S.  All the houses in the pictures were designed by William Waters, some were in Oshkosh, others in Neenah and Appleton.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Two on Waugoo

I can trace my interest in architect Waters to some old acquaintances: Lee and Eileen Weigert.  I had known them since I was in first grade, the parents of a classmate and friend. The Weigerts were devotees of Oshkosh history and William Waters.  In 1977 I entered the Oshkosh Public Museum Art Fair, one of my drawings was a pen and ink called “Glimpses of Oshkosh, Wisconsin” and featured drawings of many prominent Oshkosh buildings.  The Wiegerts and I were talking when Lee said, “You know Richard, all these buildings were designed by William Waters.  Do you know much about him?”  I had to plead ignorance and the Wiegerts filled me in on Mr. Waters.  Eileen told me of a house on Waugoo Avenue as being a Waters job but remodeled beyond recognition.  She described in detail its location and I at once knew of which house she spoke, it was number 316 Waugoo or old number 91.  







                                                    Numbers 2, 3 are address 91, 101

Until recently I never pursued much research on architect Waters’ early works.  The collection of sketches compiled by William Waters Jr. as a boy had been a great help in discerning works from the 1870’s and photographic evidence showed architectural details also seen in the sketches of “Willie’s Book”.  I was now able to identify some Mr. Waters’ early residential works and I concluded that the houses at 91 and 101 Waugoo Avenue were both the work of architect Waters, but to linking the house to the person who had it built was another matter.  The Oshkosh city directories from the 1870’s list names, occupations and home address, there was no listing of street addresses and occupant name.

In 1891, D. C. Buckstaff resided at number 91 Waugoo, he was the treasurer of the Buckstaff and Edwards Company.  D. C. Buckstaff isn’t listed in the 1879 directory and all other Buckstaffs are listed as living on the south-side and working for Buckstaff Brother and Chase Company.  The occupant of number 101 Waugoo in 1891 was Herman Derksen, a cigar maker who had previously lived at number 152 Main Street.  It was unlikely that either man had these homes built for them. 

 Both building have long since been demolished but it's nice to imagine the days when the street was lined with houses, not parking lots.

Friday, June 2, 2017

James G. Clark Residence

Recently in Oshkosh, the Washington Avenue Historic district was established to help preserve the many fine neoclassic buildings in the 200 block of that street.  This is a good thing and I endorse any effort the preserve architectural treasures.  I’m also aware that the neighborhood now protected was once an up sale residential district.  In the nineteenth century, many doctors, lawyers and businessmen made their homes on Washington and adjacent street.  One such denizen was James G. Clark a partner in the Biggers and Clark dry goods store.  In an article from the Oshkosh Daily Northwestern from December 14, 1877 which recapped the years building, there is mention made of Mr. Clark’s new dwelling on Washington, as planned by William Waters.  
Where was it and what did it look like, were the questions in my mind.  The Oshkosh city directory of 1880 lists Mr. Clark’s address as 71 Washington Street and the 1903 Sanborn map shows that number to be on the north side of the street and third from the corner of Mt. Vernon.  As to its’ appearance, I consulted “Oshkosh Illustrated” from 1887 and the photograph looking north taken from the top of the court house.  I notice a house in the upper left hand side the picture, about where number 71 would stand.  The image wasn’t very clear but clear enough to trigger a recognition, I had seen something like it the collection of sketches put together by William Waters Jr.  I leafed through the pages and found the drawing, a good match to the fuzzy image from 1887 and the date would have been spot on, I determined that the house in the photo and the house in the sketch were one and the same.  
P. S. The house designated as 1 is the Clark residence, I’ve numbered several houses in the photograph as they will be the subject of future posts.  

Monday, May 22, 2017

115 Algoma Blvd.

I’ve written pieces about every building I know to have been designed by William Waters. My last two missives were speculative in that I had no confirmation of Mr. Waters’ affiliation with the design of the structures, just my intuition, this and future post will just as intuitive and many posts will focus on architect Waters’ earlier work.
A few years ago, I asked Dan Radig, an artist, historian, archivist and Facebook friend if he had any photos of some of the houses demolished to make way the phone company’s new building on Algoma Boulevard.  In return he sent some great pictures I’d not seen before.  One was of number 115 Algoma, the address before the renumbering of 1957, which was across the street from what is now Oshkosh City Hall.  Many design elements were familiar, like those of Joshua Daltons residence on Central Street. (See post from March 30, 2015.)  The layout of both houses was the same and the front porches were small with an enclosed vestibule.  A look back at the sketches collected by young William Waters Jr. in the mid 1870’s reviled the gable and window trim details to be the work of the elder Waters, I was sure of it.  The Oshkosh city directory of 1890 was the first to list street addresses and occupants name,  115 Algoma is listed as the residence of T. J. Gannon, a commercial traveler, it also the first-time Mr. Gannon’s name appears in the city directories.  A Herculean task I’m not up for, would be to go through the appropriate directories name by name to ascertain for whom the house was built.  For now, the name of the dwelling’s first resident will remain a mystery.  

Friday, May 12, 2017

Pratt's Block of Ripon

Many years ago, I traveled to Ripon Wisconsin to research some buildings there designed by William Waters.  My destination was the public library and the archive on local history.  I found an image of the town square and one of the buildings pictured there was to my thinking the work of Mr. Waters.  It bore many of the hallmarks of a “Waters job”; a chamfered corner entrance with a set of triplet windows just below the pediment, an intricate brick work cornice and stairways to the second floor between store fronts.  I finished up at the library and drove to the town square and found the building I’d seen in the picture with the inscription just below the pediment, “Pratt’s Block”.
                                 
 Perhaps I should have returned to the library that day and researched the Pratt block but time would not allow that.  Over the next many years, I tried to ascertain if indeed Mr. Waters was the architect of the block but my efforts never yielded an answer.  I did discover that the building contributed to the Watson Street historic district of Ripon but none of the research on the building named the designer.  In that research, there’s a was a lengthy description and a brief history of the building which revealed it was built in 1885 as a replacement for a structure destroyed by fire.  There were newspaper accounts of the fire and how a company of firefighters from Oshkosh was dispatch to help extinguish the blaze but no mention in the subsequent months of a replacement building.  Given the Pratt’s Blocks great resemblance to other buildings by Mr. Waters from that time I continue to believe it to be his work and I shall persist in my search.                 

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Waupaca Suspect

Waupaca and its’ environs presented William Waters with many design opportunities.  There was one building I’d always suspected of being a “Waters Job” and that would be a rundown bar on Union Street just east of Main Street.  I first glimpsed a picture of it in “Illustrated Waupaca” and thought at once that it may have been the work of Mr. Waters.  A more recent photograph was part of the Waupaca building survey, which I found online at the Wisconsin Historical Society.  The
accompanying description called it the Post Office Block, built in 1880 but there was no mention of the architect.  The block was not part of the Main Street Historic District so it wasn’t researched.
There seemed to be a dearth of information on the building but still I believed it to be designed by architect Waters and here’s why;  It is of the template so often used by the architect, that being two stores on either side of a stair way to the second floor.  The other reason is the intricate brick work and details. The drawing in “Illustrated Waupaca”, which was based on the photograph shows parapets rising from the brick work cornice, a feature common for Mr. Waters commercial building from that time. Much of that detail was removed over the years, perhaps for maintenance reasons.  There were some uncommon design elements as well, first the peaked window arches of the second floor were unusual and the chamfered corner of the front door of what must have been the post office, in other buildings the cut corner would have extended to the second floor.  By 1893 the post office had moved to the Roberts block and what had been the post office became Nelson’s Bar, serving Pabst beer.             

Saturday, April 15, 2017

More Work in Waupaca

The decade of the 1880’s saw much activity in Wisconsin’s north country.  Immigrants from Germany, Scandinavia and eastern Europe found a fresh start in the forests of Wisconsin.  The city of Waupaca was growing rapidly, and as the county seat required all manner of buildings, it too became a center of industry and commerce. Fine brick buildings lined either side of Main Street and a new ornate court house dominated the square at the center of town. 
 One of the most conspicuous commercial buildings on Main St. was the Roberts Block, the first section of which was constructed in 1884 using plans drawn by William Waters.  The building was of dark red brick with courses of black brick as accent, bands of lime stone and tile also adorn the fa├žade.  Pictorial evidence conflicts with written time lines, the 1888 publication “Illustrated Waupaca” indicated that an addition to the south end of the building had already been erected.  This expansion was of three stories and employed the same decorative motifs as the original block and incorporated a diminutive tower at the building’s terminus.  The Wisconsin State Historical Society’s records suggest that the annex of 1893 included that portion which housed the Post Office plus another two store fronts to the south.  The actual construction date is left to conjecture, whatever took place the completed Roberts Block was an impressive piece of architecture.
Another job in Waupaca undertaken by Mr. Waters was in 1909.  Attorney Irving P. Lord hired Waters to design a business block with two retail spaces on the first floor and offices on the second floor.  Architect Waters planed in the Neo-classic Style, built of red brick with limestone trim and metal cornice, complete with dentils.  Large windows on the second floor were favored as they admitted much light and ventilation.  Over the years some changes were made; the large second story windows were exchanged for smaller casements and the decorative cornice was removed.  At some point the retail space on the ground floor was joined with that of the building next door and a large opening on the Granite Street side was bricked in.          

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New London Business

Early on in his career, William Waters had aggressively pursued work away from Oshkosh.  By the 1880’s the north woods had become more populated and commercialized with Waupaca county being an area of rapid growth.  New London, on the banks of the Wolf River was a fast growing city, ripe with opportunity.  In the Oshkosh Times of July 3, 1880 there was a brief article about the new hardware store of J. C. Hoxie in New London.  The point of the article however was to point out the several Oshkosh individuals and companies that had played a part in the building’s construction.  First to be mentioned was G. F. Stroud who had gone to New London to install two large plate glass windows.  The missive goes on to say that J. R. Porter of Oshkosh was the contractor and that William Waters was the architect of the 30’ x 100’, two story structure. 
It was indeed an edifice worthy of mention as it added greatly to prestige of North Water Street.  It boasted of two of the largest plate glass window in the state, which measure 8’2” x 11’6”.  The building was of cream colored brick with three sets of double windows on the second floor the arches of which had keystones and springers with craved rosettes.  Intricate brick work capped the top of the building’s front elevation with the rosette motif repeated in the limestone blocks along the parapet and at the tops of pilasters.  The building remained a hardware store but changed ownership several times before being replaced by a new, modern building

Monday, March 27, 2017

Commercial Buildings in Green Bay

William Waters also found work in Green Bay.  In 1873, on July, 17 the Oshkosh Weekly Northwesters reported that architect Waters was working on plans for an office and business block commissioned by E. J. Shaylor.  The article reported that the offices of the Green Bay and Lake Pepin Rail Road were to occupy a three-story section of the building that was to measure 80 x 44 and commercial spaces were to be housed in a two story 80 x 36 section of the $32,000 building.  The building as described in the newspaper was not built, what was constructed on the corner of Pine and Adams Streets was a handsome edifice of red brick, with limestone trim and a larger ornate cornice.  It was two and half stories high and measured 80 x 44.  The building sat on a high foundation with the basement housing shops, large window let in ample light.  Access two the first floor was gained by flight of stairs at the front and side of the building.  The Shaylor block remains to this day although greatly altered.
Yet another proposal was announced in the Oshkosh Times of May 20, 1893, in a notice to contractors for sealed bids for the construction of a factory for Fred F. Bischoff near Green Bay.
Fred F. Bischoff Manufacturing made sheet metal products and was based in Chicago. 
Reports from the Green Bay Press Gazette gave a clear account of what happened; April 28, Messrs. Bischoff and architect Waters visited site proposed by the Allouez Improvement Co., Mr. Bischoff approved the location.  May 8, 1893, Mr. Bischoff announced the name of the company would be, Allouez Cycle and Novelty Company. June 26, 1893, Mr. Bischoff dispelled rumors that the new factory was to be located elsewhere.   July 12, 1893, Mr. James Elmore, secretary of the Allouez Improvement Company explained to an assembled group how the sale of land worked and the introduced Mr. Bischoff who spoke of his plans for the factory.  August 9, 1893, Mr. Elmore told the press that the contractor hadn’t been paid and had ceased work on the factory.  The upshot of all of this was that the factory was never built, if it had it was to be three stories high, measuring 350’ x 60’ with the front entrance at the center on River Road and would have employed seven hundred people.         
More work in Green Bay and Stevens Point came to Mr. Waters early in the twentieth century with the planning of depots in both those cities for the Green Bay and Western Rail Road.  This fact was briefly noted in the Oshkosh Observer of April 11, 1902 in a piece about the firm of Wm. Waters and Son.  The Green Bay depot was grand, befitting the rail road’s home town.  It was a two-story brick structure set on a high limestone foundation, capped by a tile, hip roof with large dormers, the platform was also shielded by tile clad roofs.  As for the Stevens Point depot, it was more pedestrian, a simple one story brick building which served the needs adequately. 


Friday, March 10, 2017

Appleton Commercial Buildings, Part 3

Of all Mr. Waters' Appleton, commercial buildings there were five I had trouble pin pointing.  They were; the Moore and Galpin block, Dr. Sutherlands Block, the Smith Block, the Bertschy Block and Mr. Tisher's Store. I had no clue about the Tischer store, what it looked like or where it may have been, the others I was able speculate as to which building they were.
I'll start with the Moore and Galpin block, built in 1871.  Per the 1887 Appleton city directory, Harold and Algernon Galpin maintain an office above White’s Hardware store, the same directory give the location of White’s store as “n s College av., 8 w Durkee.”  Indeed, an 1883 fire insurance map show a hardware store at that location.  The brick building exhibits many of the features that are hall marks of a Waters’ designed business block, most notably two stores flanking a central stairway to the second floor.  There is also an intricate brick work cornice and parapet along the top of the structure. 

There are references to the Sutherland Block in the early city directories and one in “Ryan’s History of Outagamie County” in the biography of Gilbert Ullman.  Other than being on College Avenue there were no clues to guide me in my search for the building.  I knew the building was constructed in 1871 and that was all.  There was one building on the north side of the avenue however that was an exact duplicate of a building on Main St. in Oshkosh, the Weston Block.  The brick work in both the Appleton and Oshkosh buildings were nearly identical to the brick work of Mr. Waters’ Phoenix Fire, also built in 1871. I thus concluded that the building on the north side of College Ave., one building west of the corner of Morrison St. to be the Sutherland Block.     
I was stymied by the Smith Block, a building erected by A. L. Smith in 1873.  Where was it located and what did it look like?  While perusing the Appleton city directory of 1877, I notice an advertisement for the Appleton Crescent which state their office to be on the third floor of the Smith Block.  A listing of attorneys and physicians show that many of these professionals had offices in the Smith Block.  I went back to the photo collection of the Appleton Public Library and looked for a large, three story building that look as if it was built in 1873.  I noticed just such a structure in a postcard of the north side of College between Morrison and Oneida.  Upon closer inspection, I could see the familiar Waters traits, it was two side by side, three story versions of the arrangement so often used by the architect, that being a stairway to the upper floors between two stores.  Mystery solved.
There was no mystery to the Bertschy Block, the 1877 city directory lists P. H. Bertschy and E. N. Johnson as having a dry goods store at 143 College Avenue and the fire insurance map of 1883 confirms that there was indeed a dry goods store at that address.  The building exhibited many features that marked as the work of William Waters, the rosettes carved in the keystone and springers of the center pediment were the most obvious.  Opportunities in Appleton provided Mr. Waters with much work early in his career and he continued getting commissions in that fair city.                                

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Appleton Commercial Buildings, Part 2

Listed among the Appleton buildings designed by William Waters in 1873 was Mr. H. A. Foster's Drug Store.  A truly impressive building as an anonymous reporter for The Oshkosh Times told of his trip to Appleton in the September 3, 1873 edition of the paper.  The author was asked to accompany Messrs. White and Alexander, proprietor of an Appleton livery stable, to that city.  The report tells of the fast growing town and what a credit to the city were the many fine business block erected along College Avenue. 
Of particular interest was the Foster Drug Store, which the author describes as being “One of the handsomest that we’ve seen in the west, outside of Chicago”.  He goes on to note that the plans were drawn by William Waters who was superintendent of construction.  The stores furniture was provided by Brand and Cole of Oshkosh with counters and display case made of Walnut and Oak. The writer goes on to laud everyone who made for a successful business block and encourages visitors to Appleton to call at Foster’s store. 
Over the years there were alteration made to the building before it was demolished.  There were other commercial buildings in Appleton that came from Mr. Waters drawing board and these have been the object of previous posts: they include the First National, Manufacturer’s and Commercial Banks as well as the Sherman House and Framer’s Hotel. 
 Architect Waters also drew plans for several other commercial building which be the subject of subsequent posts.