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Third Avenue Historic District

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c. 1850–1931. 3rd Ave. between 61st and 66th sts.

Third Avenue, Kenosha’s “Gold Coast,” emerged as a prestigious neighborhood between 1900 and the 1920s, as is evident from the elegant houses that line the avenue. Leather, hosiery, underwear, brass fixtures, mattresses, and more poured out of Kenosha’s bustling factories. The Nash Motor Company, an early automobile firm, was the biggest employer. As incoming workers expanded Kenosha’s population sixfold between 1890 and 1920, wealthy executives and their families fled the areas closest to downtown, such as Library Park (KN6), and built new houses elsewhere, especially on 3rd Avenue. Set back on spacious lawns, these mansions reflect conservative revival styles, especially the then-prestigious Georgian Revival.

Many of Kenosha’s elites hired architects from Chicago to design their homes. One of the more popular firms, Pond and Pond, created the Charles Allen House (1903; 6305 3rd Avenue) for a tannery executive who later ran a hosiery factory. Allen’s two-and-a-half-story Georgian Revival brick house has a dramatic pedimented Ionic portico. A window in the tympanum elegantly interlaces a quatrefoil and a square. Gabled dormers with arched windows flank the pediment. The picturesque Tudor Revival Walter and Gertrude Alford House (now Harmony Hall) at number 6315 was built in 1930 for a Nash Motor Company vice president. Richard Philipp of Milwaukee created a rambling, two-and-a-half-story brick house with several slate-covered gables. The stone entrance pavilion boasts outstanding Tudor details, including an arched doorway, label molding, carved stone panels, an oriel window, and battlements.

Perhaps the “Gold Coast’s” finest Georgian Revival showpiece is the brick Cole-Voorhis House (1909; 6324 3rd) built for Allen Cole, a tannery executive, but later acquired by Charles Voorhis, a vice president at Nash. The dignified entrance porch features Corinthian columns supporting a segmental-arched broken pediment. Stylistic hallmarks include three pedimented dormers piercing the steeply pitched, side-gabled roof, and the sidelights and elliptical fanlight framing the front door.

The Kemper Hall campus along Lake Michigan’s shoreline at 6501 3rd incorporated many older properties. The cream brick Charles Durkee House was built in 1861 and expanded in 1871 by a pioneer landowner. Its low-pitched hipped roof and tall arched windows with heavy surrounds typify the Italianate idiom. When Durkee left, an Episcopal girls’ academy moved into his house and renamed it Kemper Hall to honor Wisconsin’s pioneering Episcopal Bishop, Jackson Kemper. The school built a cream brick chapel in 1875–1876, with lancet arches, a steep roof, and a rose window in the front gable. Inside, a hammer-beam ceiling shelters a multiple-spired wooden altarpiece and a delicately foliated wooden choir screen. The Convent (1911), three stories tall, also reflects a Gothic Revival treatment. Three gabled parapets establish its roofline, and two-story crenellated bay windows flank the gabled entrance porch. Kemper Hall closed in 1975. Its complex, including an 1894 dormitory and a 1901 gymnasium, now hosts conferences and events, and the stately French Renaissance Revival James Anderson House (c. 1930) designed by Ralph Milman and Archibald Morphet of Chicago is the Anderson Art Center.

Pond and Pond designed the symmetrical James Wilson House (now Manor House) in 1926 at 6536 3rd Avenue for an executive at Nash. The two-and-a-half-story U-shaped mansion has a massive stone entrance pavilion with a segmental-arched doorway projecting from the facade. Contrasting stone and red brick walls and a steeply pitched hipped roof evoke the French Renaissance. Interior highlights include marble fireplaces, a groin-vaulted entrance hall, and a truss-ceilinged attic ballroom. The house is now a bed-and-breakfast inn and conference center.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Marsha Weisiger et al.
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Citation

Marsha Weisiger et al., "Third Avenue Historic District", [Kenosha, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WI-01-KN7.

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 181-182.

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