1-5 West Main Street, Evansville, Wisconsin
These three buildings on West Main Street in the Evansville
National Register Historic District illustrate the stylistic progression
of Wisconsin’s 19th Century commercial buildings. On the
corner, 1 West Main was constructed first, circa 1852, before
Evansville was even platted. The building has a pediment and a
denticulated cornice, features that denote the Greek Revival style.
Later, 3 West Main was built in the Italianate style, which was
extremely fashionable in the last half of the 1800s. It is shown
here in the tall narrow windows and prominent cornice. The Queen
Anne style, which emerged at the end of the 19th Century, appears
next door at 5 West Main. The tower-like oriel window is representative
of the style.
1-5 W. Main St, before rehabilitation.
After rehabilitation, the buildings'
Greek Revival, Italianate and Queen Anne
styles are now more apparent.
But by the end of the Twentieth Century, coverings of stucco and
aluminum siding had obscured the buildings’ features. The
storefronts had also been boarded up with tiny windows replacing
the old display windows. Owner Jeff Farnsworth, hoping to enhance
this prominent downtown corner, began the restoration of these
buildings in Spring of 2002. With the help of woodworker, Jim Cunningham, they removed stucco from the Greek
Revival building, exposing original clapboard siding, which they
repaired and painted. Newer windows were replaced with six-over-six-light
windows that matched the original configuration as found on examples
stored in the building. When they removed the aluminum from 5 W.
Main, they were surprised to discover an intact brick wall and ornate
bracketed cornice. The oriel window had faired less well. The
decorative recessed panels and garland
ornaments, which Mr. Farnsworth
had seen in historic photographs, were missing. These Mr. Cunningham recreated
based on those photos. But the most noticeable change to passersby
is the storefront. Gone is the barn board, replaced with large
glazed display windows topped by transoms. Again Mr. Cunningham based
the storefronts designs on historic photos, and he clearly had an eye for historic detail.
Uncovering the history of a building may only require removing
a layer or two to reveal what’s underneath. But more often
than not, as Mr. Farnsworth found, it requires a little research
and reconstruction as well. His efforts have indeed enhanced this
The 5 W. Main Street building's oriel window, brick and cornice covered with aluminum siding at the project's start.
The 5 W. Main Street building