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.