Walter & Weston Levisee Home

Walter and Weston Levisee Home 401 Waupaca (1)

Address:  401 Waupaca Street

Period: 1800-1899

Exterior Description: The Italianate style came to America in the 1830’s and continued in favor into the late 1880’s. In Wisconsin this style was widely popular between 1850 and the late 1880’s. Italianate homes are generally square or rectangular two story buildings with hip roofs; wide overhanging eaves with brackets; arched openings; and picturesque porches decorative posts and brackets. The broad acceptance of the style and its longevity produced so many variations that categorizing the miscellaneous themes destroys the straight forward and easily identifiable character of the Italianate. The late-Italianate style is more baroque, more decorated, and more intricate than the earlier, simpler style, but the natural evolution of every style parallel the Italianate progression. The Weston Levisee home was built in the early 1870’s. The house has a gabled ell vernacular form, featuring picturesque Italianate details, such as the round arched windows of the second story and the segmental arches of the first story windows. These windows are six over six multi-pane, double-hunt sashes. Particularly interesting to this home is the poly-chromatic brickwork that was used. An alternating pattern of natural and cream city style brick is used for the window arches, and a frieze is created by alternating three ribbons of cream city brick segmented by ribbons of the homes natural colored brick, set in a dentil pattern. This effect is also used as a type of belt course at the upper and lower portions of the first story windows, by segmenting two ribbons of cream city brick with the natural brick. A one story wood framed addition (1947) is attached to the rear (north) side of the home and is unoriginal. The front (south) side of the home has a later added enclosed porch spanning the ell. It is an attractive modern addition that does not detract from the homes high level of historic integrity. Spanning the front (south) and west yard is a beautiful old wrought iron fence. This home, although not an elaborate Italianate mansion, is a good illustration of the picturesque quality of the style.

Interior Description:  Entry to the front (south) of the home is by a screened in porch. The porch was probably originally open and covered the same footprint. Original porch posts do not exist. Through the front door you enter into what was likely the parlor. This room does maintain a large portion of its original baseboard, doors and trim which are painted. The trim work is fairly decorative, using small corner blocks (target pattern). The door hinges are also a cast filigree style. Doors are a mortise/tenon five panel style. Baseboard is seven inches. This parlor has seen remodeling, with a large bay style window on the east wall and a new brick fireplace, the ceiling is beamed. This room may have been split by a wall (see floor plan) running North/South originally. The south/west front room maintains all of its original woodwork (painted) and five inch wide pine flooring. This room, a den now, may have been a bedroom or a parlor. Adjacent to the living room (north) is a remodeled area that once was an attached woodshed. This has now been remodeled into a dining area, off of the kitchen. The kitchen is remodeled with modern conveniences, but is, I believe in its original area. A bathroom now resides near the second story stairway. This room may have originally been a pantry or utility room, as an indoor toilet would have been unusual for this era. The north (1947) addition is a master bedroom, bath, and utility room. A basement is under the 1947 addition. There is a root cellar that is accessed through the floor of the bathroom off of the kitchen. The 2nd story is comprised of two bedrooms, North and South. These have been remodeled. The short hallway that bisects the bedrooms also leads to an attic crawl space. The Levisee home maintains a good portion of originality, combined with tasteful interior remodeling to create a very aesthetic home. The Levisee home is 2,036 sq. ft.

Statement of Significance: Very little is known at this time of the exact year the W. Levisee home was built. It was in the early 1870’s. Walter and Weston Levisee owned the entire “S” Block in the early part of the 1870’s. Walter owned the West ½ and Weston owned the East ½ of this city block. It is known that Weston was a Baptist Minister in the 1860’s in Waupaca. Presently, the Historic Preservation Committe has been unable to locate any other information about the original builder/occupants of 401 Waupaca St. It is likely Weston and Walter were brothers, or at the very least had some familial connections. The home’s significance stands on its architectural merit and also as a very early home of Waupaca.