Friday, October 10, 2008
October Progress Report: Combined Locks
Sunday, October 05, 2008
Historic Mendota Mental Health Institute
Few locations in
Long before this lake side site was developed by the state as “lunatic asylum,” it was home to a Native American culture that flourished in the region. The artifacts left behind are broadly spaced earthen sculptures in a number of distinct groups. Although similar mound groups are found throughout the upper Midwest, concentrated in
A third distinct aspect of the history of the MMHI site is embodied by the
[Photos courtesy of Mendota Mental Health Institute]
In the mid-1850s a pair of English artists, Samuel Brookes and Thomas Stevenson, were commissioned by Morgan L. Martin of Green Bay to paint a series of sketches showing the improvements that were underway on the Fox River. The image above, showing Combined Locks, is representative of the series of paintings produced by the pair. It shows a monumental masonry structure in a landscape that is in the process of being transformed by European settlement.
Fully functional by 1856 the locks of the Lower Fox River facilitated navigation in-land from Lake Michigan (through Green Bay) for 130 years. After being "mothballed" by the Corps of Engineers in the late 1980s and remaining in that status for nearly 20 years, the navigational locks of the Lower Fox were acquired by the State of Wisconsin in 2004 and currently are being restored and rehabilitated.
Tuesday, July 01, 2008
Oshkosh Water Treatment Plant
B.J. Jorgenson oversaw the construction of the 1916 plant as the city’s resident engineer. The capacity of the new “Water Works” was six million gallons of water every twenty-four hours with the ability to accommodate up to eight million gallons in twenty-four hours. Provisions were made for the eventual expansion of the plant to include a new pump. The fifty-thousand gallon steel tank in the tower was used to wash the filter sand from the bottom of the six filter beds that cleansed the water. Although the 1916 structure was connected by pipes to the low lift discharge in the earlier treatment station, the new structure was designed to function independently and did so by 1917.
While Allen’s focus in designing the plant was the efficiency of its water treatment systems, the building was detailed architecturally in the drawings developed for project. The cover sheet of the 1915 drawing set provides a three dimensional perspective that shows a somewhat grander view of the plant than realized; the grounds are shown with fountains and the principal entrance is formalized with light standards on the balustrade leading into the building.
The most prominent element of Allen’s design was the water tower situated in the north east corner of the plant. The tower, as was the balance of the plant, was constructed of red brick with stone string courses and coping. Clock faces, approximately eight-feet in diameter, were positioned in the upper part of each of the four tower façades. The roof was covered with red tile and its prominent triangular gables were provided with a decorative cornice of contrasting cut stone. This treatment was consistent with the roof and gables of the two-story portion of the plant. The exterior detailing of the plant, with its ornamentation of contrasting stone, is fully described in Allen’s design drawings.
The Water Treatment Plant has been modified and expanded over the years to serve the growing needs of
(Photo courtesy the City of Oshkosh)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Historic Oshkosh Water Tower
The Oshkosh Water Tower, which holds a non-functional 50,000 gallon water storage tank, no longer satisfies the purpose for which it was constructed. Although highly regarded as a local landmark by members of the community, finding an alternate use for the structure will be challenging if not impossible. Since September 11, 2001 water treatment facilities are considered at high risk of terrorist threat. Therefore the Department of Homeland Security has initiated highly restricted public access to these sites. Considering the proximity of the tower to other functional assets on the property, the tower can be maintained only as a structure that would be seen from a distance.
Olin House Site Visit
Thursday, April 03, 2008
Wisconsin's Changing Rural Landscape
These images, taken approximately fifty years apart, show rooms located in the same building. The first image shows a functional space that is being well maintained, while the second image shows a room in ruin with a ceiling that has collapsed onto the floor. Over a decade ago, use of the building was suspended and utilities were shut down. Infiltration of water into the structure went unchecked. The consequences were dire and unfortunately will result in the demolition of this once proud building.
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Sunday, March 02, 2008
Trempleau is a sleepy little Wisconsin town located on the Mississippi River about 100 miles south of the Twin Cities. It was a much livelier place when the use of the river and railroad were crucial to the movement of people and products. Remaining something of an outpost relative to Wisconsin's modern highway system, it has retained a good deal of its 19th century character.
Restored Timber Gates at Cedars Lock
C. R. Meyer secured Douglas fir from the
Friday, February 15, 2008
Olin House, University Heights, Madison, WI
In addition to having been engaged in a busy professional life practicing and teaching law, Olin’s principal avocation was the Madison Park and Pleasure Drive Association (MPPDA). Olin founded the organization in 1894 and served as its president until 1909. In this role he promoted park development in
John and Helen Olin selected Ferry & Clas of
The Olin House has been recognized as a contributing element within the University Heights Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. The
English Tudor Revival references from the exterior are reintroduced in the scale, finish and detailing of the first floor living room, which the Olins furnished with some Arts and Crafts pieces. The large living room is thirty-two by seventeen feet, exclusive of its two alcoves; the ceilings are at thirteen feet and the walls are wainscoted with quarter sawn white oak to a height of 8½ feet. The oak woodwork was stained a dark shade, making it similar in color to the walnut trim in the dining room. The floor is constructed of eight-inch quarter sawn white oak veneer, approximately an 1/8th inch thick, edged with thin strips of black walnut. Screws used to secure the boards were counter sunk and a small piece of wood used to conceal the screw. The oak boards were fastened together with glue to prevent shrinking. Boards that are broader than those used for flooring elsewhere in the residence were purposefully selected to be in “keeping with the size or dimensions of the room.” The space was illuminated with a large and ornate chandelier that was centrally placed and sconces were situated on walls throughout the space, including on either side of the fireplace.
(Photo courtesy of the Wisconsin Historical Society)