From Thom Petersen:
Racine History Lesson … a good read.
The house a Gothic Revival, was built for Mr. Chauncey Hall, around 1845.
It is located at 1235 South Main Street. Chauncey Hall was an early settler of Racine and business man (later a prominent banker).
The drugstore (as we know it – Porkony’s), was built as a men’s clothier store and offices … this was in 1883.
This building, Chauncey Hall Building, was designed by E. Townsend Mix, who also designed St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Chapel, Guildhall, and Rectory. Noted most famously for the “old soldiers home” and the old train station in Milwaukee. Some have said that Mix also designed this house for Hall (I was one of them.)
BUT NO !!! ….
This house WAS NOT DESIGNED by Mix, but rather, by Andrew Jackson Downing, possibly in 1842. (More later about this great man).
Here is some neat history on this house:
The house was later bought by Dr. Roswell Park, 1st. president of Racine College in 1852. (Yes, PARK AVE is also named after Dr. Park.)
In the 1880s, it was purchased by Simeon Whiteley, a well-known newspaper man and journalist.
This is bit of Simeon Whiteley history:
Simeon Whiteley became a part of the staff (maybe, press secretary) of Gen. Cameron, the Secretary of War, during the Civil War. When Fort Sumter was fired upon, he enrolled as a private soldier in the battalion formed for the immediate defense of Washington, …. AND THE CONFEDERATES WERE CLOSING IN ! Whiteley performed military duty after office-hours.
After the battle of Bull Run, a Wisconsin Soldiers’ Relief Association was formed, and Mr. Simeon Whiteley was made Chairman of the Executive Committee. During the remainder of his stay in Washington, he devoted a large share of his time to looking after the welfare of “the boys” in different hospitals.
During the second Bull Run battle, he was granted leave of absence from the office, that he might go to the front. While assisting in removing the wounded out of range of the enemy’s guns, … Simeon escaped unharmed.
(Just think of the people Simeon must have met in Washington during the war !!!)
Simeon later married Jane Knight, the eldest daughter of Albert G. Knight.
BUT WAIT !! .. There’s more !!!
Whiteley was commissioned to the Agency to the Grand River Ute Indians, in 1863. Here he got deeply involved into politics and helped establish Colorado as a state.
This is something .. I found a .pdf of it today – all hand written with her own colored illustrations.
Jane Whiteley wrote:
“Our Denver Story, 1863,”
This was her remembrances of her trip to Denver by stage coach in 1863.
She describes life in Denver, a major flood and an “Indian scare” which precipitated her return to Wisconsin again by stage. … Back to .. HOME SWEET HOME.
Simeon Whiteley became in charge of the insurance department in the new business firm of, “Knight & Whiteley”.
Jane Knight Whiteley, was active in the First Methodist Episcopal Church, Racine. She was elected President of the church’s Woman’s Foreign Missionary Society in 1887, and was re-elected every year for twenty years until her death in 1907.
Ok! Ok! … Back to the house !!!!
Later, (the turn of the century) the house came into the possession of our friend, and father-in law A.G. Knight.
SO … When you look at this house again ….
…….. Think of the landscape also …
……… WHY? ……..
This house was designed by the famous, Andrew Jackson Downing, an American landscape designer, who also designed many significant projects, including:
“the grounds” of the White House.
and the Smithsonian Institution Mall in Washington D.C.
People’s pride in their country is connected to pride in their home. If they can decorate and build their homes to symbolize the values they hope to embody, such as prosperity, education and patriotism, they will be happier people and better citizens.
“A good house will lead to a good civilization.”
The “individual home has a great value to a people.”
“There is a moral influence in a country home.”
A good home will encourage its inhabitants to pursue a moral existence.
So there you have all I have on it !!
You of course, may snoop further and find out more about these great men and women who built Racine !!!
……….GET SNOOPING !
FLASH !!! ….. Cecil Corwin is credited with the design of the house ..
.. Frank Lloyd Wright and Cecil Corwin were close fiends and probably influenced each other’s work. .
.. It has been said that Wright had Cecil Corwin sign several of the bootleg jobs during the time worked for Sullivan under contract.
Wright was said to have done many side jobs during this time .. So there is possibly a Wright connection.