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Park Place Neighborhood

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1849–1947. Roughly includes the 300–600 blocks of E. Wisconsin Ave. and the 100 block of N. Park Ave.
  • Henry Sherry House

The Park Place neighborhood was built of paper—in a sense. Many of the residents of this wealthy enclave were associated with the Kimberly-Clark paper products firm, founded in 1872, or with other paper companies, the economic mainstay of the Fox River Valley. Author Edna Ferber set Come and Get It (1935), her novel about a paper baron, in this neighborhood, albeit disguised as “Millionaires’ Row” in the hamlet of Butte des Morts. More than half of the houses in Park Place were built in the 1890s, the industry’s heyday, and most are large high-style examples of the popular architectural fashions of the day. Many were designed by notable regional architects, including Alexander Eschweiler Sr., Ferry and Clas, and Childs and Smith.

The proximity of the Fox River and Lake Winnebago gives the neighborhood and its spacious wooded lots a parklike setting. The houses along E. Wisconsin Avenue sit on deep lots facing the river. Among the finest is the two-and-a-half-story Colonial Revival F. J. Sensenbrenner House (1901; 402 E. Wisconsin) by Eschweiler. Clad entirely in shingles, the house features wall dormers, rooftop dormers, and oriels. Sensenbrenner became the second president of the Kimberly-Clark Corporation in 1928. J. A. Kimberly, the founder and first president of the paper firm, chose the popular Italianate style for his cream brick residence of 1873 at 410 E. Wisconsin. The two-story house has a low-pitched, bracketed hipped roof and a projecting front bay. The stepped parapet atop the entrance tower, however, hints at Gothic Revival. The Frank Hawks House (1904; 433 E. Wisconsin) is a rare example of Shingle Style in Wisconsin. Wooden shingles cover the entire house. A cross-gambrel roof includes dormers that resemble lanterns with their curved hipped roofs and finial knobs.

Oshkosh architect William Waters designed six houses in this area, among them the two-and-a-half-story residence for developer and lumberman Henry Sherry (1883; 527 E. Wisconsin). This asymmetrical Queen Anne house has a mix of hipped and gabled roofs, a central four-story tower, patterned masonry, spindlework, and decorative fan and floral motifs. Waters also designed the eclectic two-and-a-half-story Havilah Babcock House (1883; 537 E. Wisconsin), which incorporates Eastlake details. Gabled dormers and a three-story turret with a conical roof create a lively roofline. Exuberant contrasts in color and texture include white stone bands across the cream brick walls, false half-timbering, patterned shingles, and an elaborate veranda with wooden arches and geometric patterns. The richly detailed interior includes built-in cabinetry, ornate textured-canvas walls, ceilings with bas-reliefs, and elaborate mantels carved with stag heads and urns. Babcock helped found the Kimberly-Clark Corporation and the First National Bank of Neenah.

The Franklyn Shattuck House (1890; 547 E. Wisconsin) was one of Ferry and Clas’s first commissions. The two-and-a-half-story brick, Georgian Revival house is crowned by a widow’s walk, and an elaborate swan’s neck pediment, broken at the apex, graces a large dormer. A one-story veranda, which spans the full width of the main facade, bows out to create a grand entrance. Interior details include Tiffany light fixtures, Art Nouveau hardware, and Lincrusta wall coverings. A dumbwaiter, speaker tubes, a walk-in icebox, and a central vacuum system made the Shattuck residence thoroughly modern.

In the 1920s, a whole series of period revival houses clustered around Riverside Park. These demonstrate how a designer could vary a few key features such as towers, roofs, and wall treatments to convey different styles. The two-story Dan Kimberly House (1929; 569 E. Wisconsin) is a Tudor Revival composition by Chicago architects Peacock and Frank. Its most distinguishing characteristic is a polygonal entrance tower, placed on a diagonal at the center of the facade. Similar elements are present in the J. Frederick Hunt House (1939; 603 E. Wisconsin) by local architect Richard Kelly, but here the entrance tower is round with a conical roof, evoking French Norman models. Childs and Smith employed an imitation thatch roof with layered shingles and a rolled and undulating eaves-line to give the A. C. Gilbert House (1918; 620 E. Wisconsin) the look of an English cottage. By contrast, the John Nelson Bergstrom House at 165 N. Park Avenue, now the Bergstrom-Mahler Art Museum, has a more conventional roof but adds false half-timbering, resulting in a more formal Tudor Revival appearance. Eschweiler designed the rambling stone building in 1929–1930. A sympathetically designed wing was added in 1997. The two-story, stone, Tudor Revival George Gilbert House (1934; 173 N. Park) by Van Alyea and Spinti of Milwaukee features a grand entrance pavilion with a crenellated parapet and an arcaded oriel window. Decorative half-timbering with brick nogging enhances the period look.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Marsha Weisiger et al.
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Citation

Marsha Weisiger et al., "Park Place Neighborhood", [Neenah, Wisconsin], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/WI-01-WN4.

Print Source

Buildings of Wisconsin

Buildings of Wisconsin, Marsha Weisiger and contributors. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2017, 224-225.

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