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