THE MANSIONS OF EAST WISCONSIN AVENUE
The J. Alfred Kimberly House
Constructed in 1874 next door to the Double House, the contractors underestimated the amount of Milwaukee Creme City brick needed to build this house and ran out three-quarters of the way through. Instead of ordering more, J. A. Kimberly ordered the job completed with local common brick and then had the residence painted a pale yellow to hide the discrepancy. Mrs. Kimberly always thought of the house as unsuitable, even when it was greatly expanded in the early 1900s. She was far more satisfied with Kimberly-Crest, their retirement home in Redlands, California. Even so the Neenah house remained in the family and is believed by many to have inspired the fictional Barney Glasgow home in "Come And Get It," the 1935 novel by Edna Ferber. Kimberly's grandson Jimmy Kimberly subsequently entertained Ginger Rogers, Sonja Hennie and Betty Hutton at this house. The tower was later removed above the roofline at an unknown date, and the property subdivided in the 1960s.
The Frank W. Hawks House
After living briefly in his hometown of Goshen, Indiana, Frank Hawks brought his wife and children to live in Neenah, then in 1904 to this house, two doors up from Helen's father, C. W. Howard, for whom their eldest son, Howard Hawks, was named. Helen's health, however, was not very good, so after only a couple of years they moved out to live in Pasadena. There they built a home designed by the renowned architectural firm of Greene & Greene, whose Arts and Crafts masterwork, the Gamble House, was only a few doors away. Hawks père had a taste for good architecture.
The C. B. Clark Jr. House
Instead of living in the family home built by his sister Theda, C. B. Clark Jr. (aka "Bill" Clark) opted to build this Colonial Period Revival house in 1926 just up the street on a four acre estate overlooking Lake Winnebago. Previously elected to public office like his father before him, Bill had campaigned on and succeeded at closing down the city's whore houses and gambling dens, which at one time were so notorious that national temperance leader Carrie Nation catagorized Neenah as "a wide open town." Bill Clark was also not afraid to break ranks for what he believed, going so far as to sue the leadership of Kimberly-Clark for underestimating the company's value at the time of his father's death, when Bill was still a minor. The suit was quietly settled out of court.
The Edward D. Beals House
This informal but imposing house is one of the masterworks of Milwaukee architect Alexander Eschweiler. Constructed in 1911 for Beals and his wife, Kimberly-Clark heiress Vina Shattuck, the Arts and Crafts house was modeled after the work of famed British architect C. F. A. Vosey, with even the waterfront site replicating the settings of Vosey homes in Britain's Lake District. Beals, a founder of Hardwood Product Co., died at age 46 in 1928 and was buried in his family's plot at Boston's Mount Auburn Cemetery, in such august company as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Winslow Homer, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow to name only a few. He was possibly the only Neenah industrialist to opt out of spending eternity as he had spent his life - surrounded by neighbors in Oak Hill Cemetery.
THE MANSIONS OF EAST FOREST AVENUE
The Judge J. C. Kerwin House
Descended of an Irish laborer who worked on digging the locks and canals of the Fox-Wisconsin waterway, James Kerwin became a much respected attorney who achieved a statewide reputation for his defense of private property in a suit brought against the unestablished right of utilities to use the public right-of-way for the indiscriminate installation of telephone poles. Appointed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 1903, Kerwin's daughter Julia married C. B. Clark Jr., while daughter Grace married John Sensenbrenner. While Grace's marriage was far from successful (it ended in divorce, with her husband subsequently marrying one of the Smith girls up the street), she is the grandmother of Fifth District Congressman James Sensenbrenner.
The Charles R. Smith Carriage House
Like the additions to the house and the Tiffany interior decoration, the second Mrs. Smith was presented with the city's largest carriage house, complete with what was then the ultimate luxury of Neenah's only known enclosed (and monogrammed) brougham carriage, now on display at historic Stonefield. The carriage house also had the unusual distinction of including party rooms rooms, in which the Smiths hosted several gala dances, in spite of the redolent aroma of leather, hay, and manure. Under the regime of Smith's athletic daughter Sylvia, the rooms were converted first into a squash court and later into the first classrooms of the private and very progressive Winnebago Day School. The barn burned to the ground in the 1970s and later replaced by subsequent owners with a very creditable reconstruction.
THE WHITING BOATHOUSE