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Wisconsin National Register of Historic Places

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Frank Whiting Boathouse (Peter Adams photo, 2007

Frank Whiting Boathouse (Peter Adams photo, 2007

Frank Whiting Boathouse (Peter Adams photo, 2007

Frank Whiting Boathouse (Peter Adams photo, 2007

Whiting Boathouse
98 Fifth Street, Neenah, Winnebago County
Architect: Robert Messmer
Dates of Construction: 1932, 1939, and 1946

Built and expanded during the Depression at an estimated cost of $100,000, the boathouse constructed by industrialist and millionaire playboy Frank Whiting is perhaps one of the finest remaining examples of the wealth and extravagance afforded by the paper industry during the early twentieth century. Designed by Milwaukee architect Richard Messmer, the boathouse was lavished with decorative features, including stone rowboat planters, maritime lanterns, and silhouette replicas of Whiting’s boats on the screen doors and fire screens found in the structure party rooms.

Outfitted with a bar, grill, soda fountain and rooftop dancing pavilion, the Whiting Boathouse was a key venue in establishing Neenah as a site for the Inland Lakes Yachting Association regattas. The boathouse and its party rooms similarly were used to entertain touring tennis greats when they appeared at Western Hard-Court Tournament matches held at the Doty Tennis Club. Transferred to the city after Whiting's death in 1952, it has since then been used to house community functions and the city police boat.

In addition to its historical significance, the Whiting Boathouse is an outstanding example of the application of the Spanish inspired Period Revival styles. Characterized by the use of rough stuccoing, stone quoins and heavy beam lintels, the structure also includes a mansard roof, which imbues the design with references to the French Riviera and relates appropriately to the waterfront location of the boathouse. Further enhancing the design are the massive arched entryway, the slate shingles, and a stepped chimney with molded brick stacks.

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