North Main Street Bungalow Historic District
The North Main Street Bungalow Historic District was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013. Portions of the content of this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [†] Adaptation copyright © 2016, The Gombach Group.
The City of Oshkosh is located on the west bank of Lake Winnebago at the mouth of the upper Fox River in east-central Wisconsin. Situated on the north side of the city, the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District is a well-defined cluster of 23 buildings, all contributing to the historic district. The development of this area of mostly small to modestly-sized homes began around 1908 and continued over the next two decades. Representative of the prevailing architectural styles of the time, Bungalow form residences are most prevalent within the district. However, Tudor Revival, Dutch Colonial Revival, American Craftsman, and Queen Anne style residences are also found within the district. The result is now one of Oshkosh's most architecturally intact historic residential areas.
This historic residential neighborhood is located north of Oshkosh's core and has a boundary roughly delineated along North Main Street from Huron Avenue on the north to Nevada Avenue on the south. The topography within the district is flat. Main Street, a wide street with a single travel lane in each direction, features parallel parking on both sides and concrete curbs and gutters. The street's sidewalks are set apart from the curb by a grass terrace with large mature trees lining the street. The residences in the district respect a uniform setback of approximately 35 feet from the street. The neighborhood consists of small lots typical of urban practice, which conform to the standard conventions of the plats' block and lot configurations. They are generally narrow, deep, and rectilinear in shape. All but two of the properties in the district feature a long narrow driveway that runs from the street to a small, detached garage at the rear of the lot. The garages were not included in the resource count.
The North Main Street Bungalow Historic District's resources consist of single-family residences. The district's 23 contributing resources were built between approximately 1908 and 1930 and were home to a variety of residents including laborers in local industries, railway employees, salesmen, and several local businessmen. It is notable that five homes in the district were constructed by local carpenters and contractors as their own personal residences. As such, they are well constructed homes, each distinguished in its own way, reflecting the socio-economic status of their original owners as well as the architectural trends of the era in which they were constructed. The homes display a range of scale and massing, are one and one-half to two and one-half stories in height, and are primarily clad in wood. Exterior alterations to the original residences have been minimally intrusive and have generally been limited to window replacements in their original openings and siding replacement. The residences within the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District are well preserved and have much of the same appearance today as they would have when they were constructed.
The North Main Street Bungalow Historic District is roughly contained along North Main Street from Huron Avenue on the north to Nevada Avenue on the south. The district is located on the north side of the City of Oshkosh and is comprised of 23 contributing resources. Individually, the contributing resources include fine representative examples of several of the most popular styles applied to residential architecture in Wisconsin during the period of significance.
Reflecting roughly two decades of residential architecture, the period of significance for the district begins around 1908 with the construction of the two oldest extant residences, the Frederick N. & Henrietta Appleyard House at 1603 North Main Street and the Martin T. & Mabel Appleyard House at 1607 North Main Street. Through the years, numerous residences were built in the area. The period of significance ends in 1930 with the construction of the Tracy R. & Agnes D. Sutfin House at 1506 North Main Street. After this point in time, no other buildings were built within the district's boundaries.
The residences within the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District are well preserved and have much the same appearance today as they would have years ago. Exterior alterations to the original residences have been minimal and have generally been limited to window replacements in their original openings and siding replacement. The result is now one of Oshkosh's most architecturally intact historic residential areas representing a collection of small houses built over a short period of time that give the district a unified appearance and distinguish it from surrounding residential areas.
While European fur traders traveling along the Fox River entered Winnebago County by the early nineteenth century, it was not until after 1836 that the area was first settled following the Treaty of the Cedars, in which the Menomonee ceded all land north of Lake Butte des Morts and the Fox River between the Wolf River and Lake Winnebago to the United States government. Yankee settlers quickly arrived in search of cheap land for farming and other commercial opportunities. The village of Oshkosh was incorporated in 1846. Two steam lumber mills were constructed in the village in 1847 and the industry that would drive the community's future was born. Oshkosh became the county seat of Winnebago County in 1850 with a population of 1 ,392; three years later, it incorporated as a city. The 1850s saw the rapid growth of Oshkosh due to the lumber milling industry, including the arrival of a railroad in 1859. A fire, to be the first of four major fires that would devastate the city's core in its early development, occurred in 1859. However, recovery was swift due to the strength of the lumber milling industry. As this and other industries grew, immigrants came to Oshkosh in large numbers; first Germans, Irish, and Welsh, followed by Poles, Volga-Germans, and Scandinavians. By 1860, there were 11 lumber mills in Oshkosh, then with a population of 6,086. Within six years, this number increased to 30. A second fire devastated the city in 1866; however, with the growth of the lumber industry, Oshkosh's population continued to boom, doubling to 12,663 in 1870.
The city's lumber milling industry peaked in the mid-1870s, with a total of 47 sawmills and 15 shingle mills operating in the city in 1874. However, fires in 1874 and 1875 decimated the city's core. It was after these disasters that the city's downtown was rebuilt completely in brick instead of wood construction, developing a sense of permanence in the city. Although the lumber milling industry began declining in Oshkosh by 1890, a result of raw materials becoming farther away from the city's mills, the city continued to prosper with a population of 22,836 and four railroads serving the city by that year. As the lumber milling industry declined, other industries took its place. The Paine Lumber Company became the city's largest employer and operated the world's largest sash and door factory in Oshkosh until the Great Depression. Oshkosh was the second most populous city in Wisconsin after Milwaukee during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries. The city's population continued to grow steadily through the mid-twentieth century, remaining the largest city and cultural center of the Fox River Valley, reaching 33,062 in 1910, 40,108 in 1930, and 45,110 in 1960.
The earliest sites of settlement in the present-day city of Oshkosh were in the vicinity of present-day Main Street on the north side of the Fox River. As the community grew in population, neighborhoods developed to the north of downtown, west along the Fox River, and south across the Fox River, where working class housing development exploded during the mid-nineteenth century. By the 1870s, the city grew east towards the Lake Winnebago shore. It was in these general directions that new residential neighborhoods continued to be developed into the 20th Century.
Directly north of the city's core, residential neighborhoods were platted north to Nevada Avenue by the 1890s. That decade initial subdivision platting occurred in the area that would become the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District. In 1891, G. W. Washburn and A. R. Bents hired George H. Randall to survey and plat what was referred to as Block 95 of the city's 4th Ward, to the northeast of the intersection of Nevada Avenue and North Main Street. In 1903, across North Main Street from Washburn & Bent's Subdivision, the former 4th Ward Blocks 92 and 93 were platted as the Henning's Park subdivision, a portion of which along Bent Avenue was resurveyed and replatted for G. C. Bent by Randall as the Bent's Replat subdivision in 1907. The North Main Street Bungalow Historic District is located at the juncture of these three subdivisions. It was not until around 1908 that construction of homes began in any of these three subdivisions. The Frederick N. & Henrietta Appleyard and Martin T. & Mabel Appleyard House in the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District were two of the earliest houses constructed in these subdivisions. In the subsequent few years, six additional residences were constructed along the two blocks of North Main Street in the district. Homes from this period of development were American Craftsman, American Foursquare, Dutch Colonial Revival, Queen Anne, or vernacular variants of these styles.
Construction slowed within the district during the remainder of the decade, with only three additional houses being built along the two blocks of North Main Street by 1919. These houses were all examples of the Bungalow, which was newly gaining popularity in the state at that time. During the mid-1920s, construction increased dramatically within the neighborhood. Eight of the ten houses constructed within the district between the years of 1922 and 1926 exhibited the Bungalow form, the other two being American Craftsman and Colonial Revival styles.
The district was completely built-out with the construction between 1927 and 1930 of three Tudor Revival style houses near the intersection of North Main Street and Nevada Avenue.
Today, the City of Oshkosh, with a population of 66,083, remains a major population and economic center in the state and the eighth largest city in Wisconsin. While other older residential neighborhoods in the city have seen more intrusive elements introduced and more unsympathetic remodeling, the North Main Street residential neighborhood has been relatively stable and has remained largely intact.
The North Main Street Bungalow Historic District is locally significant in the area of architecture because many of its buildings are good examples of popular residential architectural styles of smaller houses from the early-twentieth century. As a whole, it is an area that maintains a high level of integrity that reflects the development of the district during the period of significance. The following are brief descriptions of the architectural styles represented within the district, listed in order by prevalence of the style within the district.
From 1910 to 1940, the Bungalow style was popular in Wisconsin. Houses are classified as bungalows because of their plan, not because of their aesthetics. These buildings can appear in several variants. They can be one story or two stories. The roofs can be gabled or hipped and may have decorative, exposed rafter ends. If the house is one story, the roof is generally low sloped. If the house is two stories, the roof often starts above the first floor and is more steeply pitched to allow for the second floor. Bungalow features include dominant fireplaces and chimney, exposed and exaggerated structural elements, and porches supported by massive piers. The exterior design is adaptable to many different stylistic interpretations and can be seen with Colonial, Craftsman, Tudor, Japanese, and Spanish influences. Buildings of this style are often clad in natural materials such as wood clapboards, shingles, brick, stone, stucco, or a combination thereof in order to achieve the desired stylistic interpretation.
The most prevalent architectural expression within the district, there are ten buildings that exhibit the Bungalow style. Among them, the Peter & Laura Smith House at 1513 North Main Street, with its high level of integrity, is a fine example due to its one and one-half story height, bungalow plan, exposed rafter ends, decorative brackets, and heavy porch piers. In addition, the houses at 1507, 1527, 1532, 1542 , and 1615 North Main Street are good representations of the style.
The Tudor Revival style, popular in Wisconsin from 1900 to 1940, is typified by a steeply pitched roof dominated by one or more prominent cross gables, an irregular plan, and the style's hallmark decorative half timbering, generally on the second floor or gable ends, infilled with stucco or brick. Other characteristic elements also include tall, narrow, and multi-paned windows in multiple groups, oriel windows, one- or two-story semi-hexagonal bay windows, massive chimneys commonly crowned by decorative chimney pots, and decorative strapwork. Exterior wall materials are typically a combination of brick, stone, clapboard, wood shingles, and stucco.
Of the three buildings in the district that exhibit the Tudor Revival style, the Harry J. & Rose Roley House at 1502 North Main Street, with its high level of integrity, stands out as a fine example of the style due to its steeply pitched roof dominated by a prominent cross gable, irregular plan, tall and narrow multi-paned windows in groupings, and flared wing wall. The house at 1506 North Main Street is a good while modest example of the style.
The American Craftsman style, descended from the nineteenth century English Arts and Crafts movement, was popular in Wisconsin from 1900 to 1920. Typically in Wisconsin, American Craftsman style houses are two-and-one-half stories in height and constructed of brick, stucco, or stone with contrasting wood bands. The style is distinguishable by its characteristic quality construction and simple exterior and interior detailing such as broad gable or hipped roofs, one or two large front dormers, decorative brackets or rafters, prominent chimneys, and simple sashes. Glazed sun porches or open wood pergolas are common in addition to the style's hallmark open porch and heavy piers. Of the two buildings in the district that exhibit the American Craftsman style, the George & Adelia Challoner House at 1627 North Main Street is a fine example of the style due to its two-and-one-half story height, simple exterior detailing, broad gable roof, large dormers, decorative brackets, horizontal wooden trim, glazed sun porch, and open porch. The house at 1607 North Main Street is additionally a good example of the style.
The Queen Anne style was popular in Wisconsin from 1880 to 1910. This style is highlighted by its asymmetrical plan and massing and lavish surface decoration. Architectural elements that lend to the varied massing include towers, turrets, tall chimneys, large wrap-around porches, bays, and other projecting elements. Steeply sloped roofs with multiple gables and hips are evident in this style. Wall surfaces tend to be adorned with wood clapboards, scalloped fish scale shingles, stone, brick, as well as other ornamental details. The fenestration on these types of buildings is often irregular and may include a border of colored glazing in the upper sash of a double hung window.
The Frederick N. & Henrietta Appleyard House at 1603 North Main Street is the only building in the district that exhibits the Queen Anne style. It is a fine example of the free-classic subtype identified by Virginia and Lee McAlester, featuring classical columns, steeply sloped gabled roof forms, use of multiple wall materials, a large porch, projecting window bays, a flared attic story, and the arched recess in the front gable with its ornamental detail.
The Colonial Revival style gained popularity with the restoration of Williamsburg, Virginia in the early twentieth century. The style is characterized by gable roofs, dormers, simple columns and pilasters, denticulated cornices, and shutters. Residences are typically two stories in height and faced with wood clapboards or brick. Most commonly rectangular in plan, later residential examples may assume an L-shaped form to accommodate a breezeway and garage. Due to the style's regularity, it lent itself well to standardization.
The Leroy W. & Lillian Fieting House at 1536 North Main Street, with its high level of integrity, is the only building in the district that exhibits the Colonial Revival style. It is a fine example of the style with its two-story height, gable roof, dormer, and symmetrical facade.
Oshkosh had numerous carpenters and builders operating at any one time since its founding. Of the builders known to have constructed homes within the district, none achieved a state or national reputation, although many gained local favor. It is notable that several of the district's original residents were carpenters who resided in houses they constructed in this neighborhood. The following builders are known to have been active in the North Main Street Bungalow Historic District.
Walter Hansen was a carpenter contractor in Oshkosh during the first half of the twentieth century. Hansen constructed two homes within the district. He resided in both with his wife, Mary; in the first around 1910 and the second in 1919. City directories show that Walter worked as a contractor until 1953. Hansen lived in the house at 1546 North Main Street until his death around 1956.
William Schroeder was an independent carpenter in Oshkosh during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1925, Schroeder constructed a home within the district in which he resided with his wife, Ethel. By 1944, Schroeder began working as a carpenter for Edward H. Meyer Construction. Schroeder worked for the Pre Cour Construction Co. from approximately 1946 to 1955, he worked briefly for Peter Rasmussen & Son, and was employed by William Warren Construction by 1957. By 1960, he returned to Pre Cour Construction.
Edward R. Schwertfeger
Edward R. Schwertfeger was a carpenter in Oshkosh during the first half of the twentieth century. Around 1910, Schwertfeger constructed a home in the district in which he resided with his wife, Lillian. City directories show that Edward worked as a carpenter until 1946. He passed away around 1948.
Arthur E. Williams
Arthur E. Williams was a carpenter contractor in Oshkosh during the first half of the twentieth century. In 1926, Williams constructed a home within the district in which he resided with his wife, Anna. City directories show that he worked as a carpenter contractor until his death around 1951.
† Robert M. Short, Intern Architect/Historic Preservation Assistant and Jennifer L. Lehrke, AIA, Principal Architect and Historic Preservation Consultant, Legacy Architecture, Inc., North Main Street Bungalow Historic District, Winnebago County, Wisconsin, nomination document, 2013, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.