|Collection||La Crosse County Historical Society Collection|
Part of a series of 15 prints by Chris Nudd "La Crosse Scenes".
Text with print:
When Nathan Myrick settled on Prairie La Crosse, he had to haul by handsled across the frozen Mississippi enough logs from Barron Island to build a cabin on Front Street. Many log cabins like Myrick's were built in the 1850s and 1860s.
Although George Farnam opened the first lumberyard in La Crosse in 1852, some buildings were still being constructed of logs, such as the Gund Brewery at Front and Division Streets in 1854. the supply of sawed lumber failed to meet the demand those first few years.
The 1850s say much building take place in La Crosse. A census taken in 1853 listed 20 carpenters, one turner, four millwrights and three masons. Supplies of windows, doors and other materials came up the river from Prairie du Chien, Galena, Illinois and St. Louis. By 1853 river traffic had increased, and buildings were constructed for business purposes and to handle the transient population.
During the 1850s new styles were taking shape throughout the country, but local builders continued to follow the older, simpler forms of colonial with adaptations from the Greek Revival. Since there were no architects in the area, the carpenters and masons incorporated the ideas found in manuals and books.
With the opening of the quarries in the middle '50s, stone was available for building purposes. The Schilling building on he southwest corner of Main and Front Streets was built of local stone in 1856. It is the oldest business structure in La Crosse. The first brick building erected in La Crosse was the Lake and Webster building in 1852 on Front Street south of Main. It was built from brick which had been burned on Mons Anderson's Cliffwood farm the year before.
At the beginning of the 19th century the architectural trends were post colonial. Since man of the prominent early settlers were from the East, it was natural that their homes should follow the simpler colonial lines with which they were familiar. the river being the main artery of traffic, it was natural, too, that southern ideas should come, and we find southern and even New Orleans French architectural features in the buildings of La Crosse. While there was a large population of foreign born, no one group isolated itself and constructed buildings with features of their native architecture.
The earliest records of anyone engaging in the professional capacity of an architect in La Crosse was in 1856 when W.H.J. Nichols was employed by the school board to design one of the early brick schools.
Records do not show what architectural training he had, but considering the work he did during the 1860s and 1870s, he was apparently well schooled in the fundamentals of architecture. the prosperity and growth of La Crosse are reflected in buildings of this period. Houses lost their simple lines and adopted the more ornate feature of the Gothic and French architecture found in the larger cities around the country.
One of the most interesting houses of the 1860s is the Martindale residence located on he northeast corner of 10th and Cass Streets. Details such as the clustered porch columns on pedestals, the brackets in the cornice and the cupola are all derived from the French. The house has not been altered and is still surrounded by a wood fence which was so typical of most houses of that period. The architect of the Martindale home is not known."