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West Hill Residential Historic District

Chippewa Falls City, Chippewa County, WI


William E. McCord House

Photo: William E. McCord House, circa 1887, located at 320 North Superior Street, Chippewa Falls, WI. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2021. Photograph reproduced in the National Park Service nomination document from the Wisconsin Historical Society, accessed October, 2021.


Description

The City of Chippewa Falls [†] is located in Chippewa County in northwestern Wisconsin. The West Hill neighborhood is located just west of downtown Chippewa Falls, on a bluff overlooking the Chippewa River. A steep hill separates the neighborhood from downtown, and a change in the street grid pattern separates West Hill from the surrounding residential areas. The West Hill Residential Historic District is located within the West Hill neighborhood and contains the concentration of houses that exemplify the best nineteenth- and twentieth-century architectural heritage within the larger neighborhood.

The West Hill Residential Historic District is comprised of 163 resources spanning more than a century from the 1870s to the 1960s. With the exception of one church (301 West Grand Ave), the district is made up exclusively of houses. The district contains good examples of most major architectural styles popular in Wisconsin between the 1870s and the 1960s, including Italianate, Queen Anne, American Foursquare, Craftsman, Colonial Revival, Tudor Revival, Mediterranean Revival, French Provincial, Minimal Traditional, and Ranch. Despite their various styles, the houses in the district generally have higher quality design and workmanship than the houses in the surrounding neighborhoods. The residential district is characterized mainly by frame and brick construction. Many of the houses retain good to excellent integrity.

The streets within the West Hill Residential Historic District have a relatively uniform cross-section and level of planting that both contribute to the overall cohesion of the district's physical environment. Within the district, all the roadways are about 30 ft. in width, with 12 ft.-wide terraces and 5 ft. to 6 ft. wide sidewalks. Setbacks of individual houses within the district vary from less than 12 ft. to more than 30 ft., with most between 18 ft. and 24 ft. Most of the terraces and many of the individual yards within the district are planted with trees of varying maturity and species type, creating an overall impression of generously-planted tree-lined streets.

All but three of the blocks north of Central Street in the district have service alleys. Despite the alleys, nearly 10% of houses in the district also have driveways providing access from the street frontage to garages at the rear of the property. All of the lots within the district are generously-sized. Individual lots, as originally platted, measure 64 ft. wide by 122 ft. deep, but in several blocks, the original lots have been combined and replatted to form larger parcels. There are no undeveloped or vacant lots within the district. However, owing to the generous lot sizes, most of the blocks within the district do not feel densely built up.

The West Hill Residential Historic District contains 139 contributing resources and 24 non-contributing resources, constructed between 1870 and 1983 and represents the regular and continuous development in the district of the construction of high style and high quality buildings representing the various phases of stylistic popularity. Of these contributing buildings, one home and its associated carriage house is individually listed in the National Register of Historic Places — the Cook-Rutledge House. Houses within the district, even non-contributing resources, generally have higher levels of integrity than the surrounding neighborhood. The non-contributing buildings within the West Hill Residential Historic District were either constructed outside of the period of significance or have significant lack of architectural integrity. Since the district's period of significance spans one hundred years, a certain degree of alteration was to be expected. Only those houses with significant alterations (rendering the historic building as unrecognizable, such as moving or eliminating windows and doors) or substantial additions were classified as non-contributing. Houses with sympathetic additions, modern replacement windows, synthetic sidings, or stock porch parts were classified as contributing as long as they retained the massing, scale, and fenestration of the original.

The contributing buildings in the West Hill Residential Historic District are well constructed and maintain a generally high level of integrity. The variety of styles in the district reflect architectural trends of the period in which they were built. Exterior alterations to the original buildings have been generally limited to occasional loss of wood decorative trim, window and door replacement in their original openings, siding and roofing replacement, and occasional additions. Most of the additions to contributing buildings have occurred at the rear of the property and have not altered the primary facades. In the cases of houses that have been resided or re-roofed, the historic architectural style or vernacular form is still easily identifiable. The buildings within the West Hill Residential Historic District are well preserved and have much of the same appearance today as when they were constructed.

Many of the buildings in the West Hill Residential Historic District have carriage barns or garages. The majority of the garages and carriage barns are not included in the counts of contributing and noncontributing resources, with the exception of four buildings. These four carriage barns are significantly larger and contain a higher level of architectural detailing, commensurate with the high-style houses they serve. These four carriage barns are included in the resource counts as contributing resources and are located at 305 West Coleman St., 425West Dover St., 606 West Willow St., and 505 West Grand Ave.

Significance

The West Hill Residential Historic District is locally significant in the area of Architecture. The district has a grouping of architectural styles and buildings types that constitute a well-defined and visually distinct geographic and historic entity. The district contains many of the best examples of Italianate, Queen Anne, and Colonial Revival-style houses in the city of Chippewa Falls.

The District is located on the west side of the City of Chippewa Falls and is comprised of 139 contributing resources and 24 non-contributing resources. One of the contributing resources is already listed in the National Register of Historic Places, the Cook-Rutledge House. Individually, the contributing resources include fine representative examples of most of the residential architectural styles popular during the period of significance. The buildings within the district are well-preserved, and the district has excellent integrity.

The period of significance reflects a century of residential development and begins in 1870 with the construction of the three oldest buildings in the district, 707 West Central St., 605 West Grand Ave., and 303 West Willow St. Although the largest concentration of houses in the district were constructed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, development in the district continued to the 1980s, although none of the post-1970s houses reflect exceptional architectural significance. The period of significance ends in 1970, reflecting the continuing development in the district. Three resources within the district are considered non-contributing because they were constructed outside the period of significance. Others are non-contributing due to lack of historic integrity.

In 1856, Hiram S. Allen, owner of the sawmill, platted the village of Chippewa Falls. The original plat contained approximately sixty blocks, laid out roughly parallel to the Chippewa River. By 1860, the village had a population of 674. Within the next decade, that number nearly tripled. Most of the newcomers settled in a mixed residential/commercial area located along present-day Bridge Street, River Street, and Spring Streets, but commercial development soon pushed residential development to the outer edges of the original plat.

Chippewa Falls was incorporated as a city in 1869 with a population of approximately 2,500. The new city was divided into two electoral wards: the first ward, located east of Duncan Creek and encompassing the area known as "Catholic Hill" as the site of the city's first Catholic church; and the second ward, located west of Duncan Creek and containing the present-day central business district and the west hill. Initially, the first ward had a slightly higher concentration of residents, but population shifted towards the west side neighborhoods during the 1870s.

Development on the west hill in the 1870s was concentrated in three new additions to the west side of the city's original plat: Allen's Addition (1869), the Western Addition (1872), and Mansfield's Addition (three plats between 1873-1887). The West Hill neighborhood contained a significantly higher number of fashionable, "high style" nineteenth-century houses compared to other neighborhoods in the city, suggesting that the west hill was the preferred place of residence for the wealthy of Chippewa Falls. Five other additions were platted to the city during the 1870s as well, including four on the south side of the Chippewa River. (See Figures 1 and 2 for comparison birds' eye views of the neighborhood.)

The city experienced a dramatic population growth between 1880 and 1885, growing from a population of 3982 in 1880 to 8719 in 1885. Nearly twenty new additions were platted during this period, including large expansions to the north side of the city. Population growth was much more moderate throughout the remainder of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, with only nine more additions platted between 1885 and 1927. Census figures suggest that population growth was spread fairly evenly throughout the city until about 1910; between 1910 and 1930 the south side neighborhoods experienced greater increases in population. By 1950, the population of Chippewa Falls had grown to 11,088.

The historical development of the West Hill Residential Historic District began in 1877 when the Western Addition was platted. Soon after, in 1873, construction in the new addition began on one of the district's oldest homes, the Cook-Rutledge House at 505 West Grand Avenue. Chippewa Falls' economic boom during the 1880s spurred the construction of homes within the district by many of the city's leading industrialists, merchants, and politicians. A new plat, Carson's Addition, was opened in 1883 and paved the way for new houses within the district. The affluent, fashionable character of many of the homes within the West Hill Residential District symbolized the city's transformation from a frontier community to a prosperous Midwestern city. Houses from the district were featured in promotional literature advertising Chippewa Falls as a modern, progressive city. As late as 1920, advertisements alluded to the ongoing desirable character of the West Hill neighborhood: "Chippewa Falls is essentially a residential city. Its natural beauty long ago afforded many sites for stately homes."

The West Hill Residential Historic District is locally significant in the area of architecture because many of its buildings are good examples of popular residential architectural styles from the mid-nineteenth to mid-twentieth centuries. As a whole, the district 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 and vernacular building forms represented within the district, listed in the chronological order in which they were popular, as well as good examples of those styles.

George F. Barber (1854-1915) was one of the most successful residential designers of the late nineteenth century, thanks to a series of mail-order plan catalogs and magazines he published.

The Lorenzo Newman House at 904 West Willow Street appears to have been built on design 36 from Barber's The Cottage Souvenir No. 2, published in 1890. The house was completed in 1893, shortly after the wedding of Lorenzo and Alice Newman. As one of the more impressive Queen Anne-style houses in the fashionable West Hill neighborhood, the Newman house was included in promotional photographs. In addition, on February 3, 1893, the Chippewa Herald reported that the Newmans held a "delightful musicale" to open their new house, christened Oak Grove. Along with descriptions of the ladies' outfits and the musical program, the article also noted that the house was "one of the modern homes wherein beauty and comfort blend, and brilliantly lighted made an attractive scene, long to be remembered."44 (See Figure 9 for a historic photo of the Newman House and Figure 10 for Barber's rendering of Design 36.)

C. L. Bowes Publishing Co.

C. L. Bowes was based in Hinsdale, IL and produced house plans between about 1915 and 1930. Bowes sold house plans to catalogs like the Home Builder's Catalog, published by National Building Publications, a division of National Trade J29 ournals, Inc., of Chicago and New York. Since publications like the Home Builder's Catalog compiled plans culled from multiple designers, the designers of individual plans remain unattributed. Bowles also published plans in his own catalogs, which were sold to lumberyards across the country, who, in turn, distributed the catalogs under their own names to prospective builders.

710 West Dover Street appears to have been built based on Bowes' Design. The design was included in Popular Homes, published by Bowes himself in 1925. The design also appears under the same identifying number in Loizeaux's Plan Book No. 7, a lumberyard catalog published in 1927 by the J. D. Loizeaux Lumber Company and Loizeaux Builders Supply in New Jersey.

Fallows, Huey and Macomber

William Kaluna Macomber (1884-1935) was active in Vancouver, British Columbia and in Edmonton, Alberta before settling in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was born in Waichinu, Hawaii, studied architecture at the University of California and the University of Minnesota. It appears that he began to practice in Minneapolis around 1910. His best-known work in Minnesota is the Sibley County Courthouse in Gaylord, Minnesota, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Macomber, Fallows and Huey designed 707 West Columbia St. The Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory has not identified any other buildings designed by the firm in the state of Wisconsin.

Conclusion

The West Hill Residential Historic District is nominated under National Register Criterion C in the area of Architecture as a fine collection of homes of quality design and construction demonstrating the range of residential architectural styles during its period of development from 1870 to 1970. The district conveys a sense of cohesiveness through its landscape and environment. The district also contains many of Chippewa Falls' best examples of specific architectural styles, with particularly fine representation of the Italianate, Queen Anne, and Bungalow styles. The buildings within the West Hill Residential Historic District are well-preserved and maintain historic and architectural integrity. The West Hill Residential Historic District is Chippewa Falls' most architecturally intact historic residential area, and continues to symbolize the city's transformation from a frontier community to a modern city.

† Adapted from: Justin Miller, University of Wisonsin Milwaukee, West Hill Residential Historic District, nomination document. 2020, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, accessed October, 2021.

Street Names
Central Street West • Columbia Street West • Dover Street West • Grand Avenue West • Willow Street West


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