Wisconsin Historical Society

National or State Registers Record

311 Main Street

National or State Register of Historic Places
311 Main Street | National or State Registers Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Gunning-Purves Building
Reference Number:15000056
Location (Address):311 Main Street
Gunning-Purves Building
311 Main Street, Friendship, Adams County
Architect: George L. Mesker & Company metal storefront
Date of construction: 1904

John W. Gunning and John W. Purves constructed this building at a time when they were anticipating the Chicago & NorthWestern Railroad to build a rail line through the village. Unfortunately the rail line was routed one mile south of the community in 1909, a large disappointment for the citizens of Friendship. Despite the speculative nature of the construction and the misfortune of missing the railroad, the building persevered and became a true center of community life. The building held a bank, an abstract and real estate office, a furniture store, newspaper, attorney's office, doctor's and dentist's offices, as well as a funeral business. This building is especially interesting because it has Mesker pressed metal ornament on the exterior as well as on the interior. The interior is remarkably intact and features elaborate configurations of wall and ceiling coverings including wainscot, dado and cornice components, all of which have been installed in rooms, stairways and corridors.

The Gunning-Purves Building is one of very few remaining early 20th century commercial buildings in Wisconsin having an intact George L. Mesker & Company pressed and stamped metal storefront. These ingenious systems of pressed and stamped metal pieces provided people in small towns with access to high style design for their buildings. The metal pre-fabricated parts, in a wide variety of designs including architectural elements, and wall and ceiling coverings, could be ordered through a catalog. The parts were shipped by rail and assembled onto the waiting building by local carpenters. These pressed metal ornamental components were popular and installed on buildings in many small towns; however, not many have been identified and added to the Wisconsin Historical Society's inventory. While only six are currently known to survive in Wisconsin, it is likely there are many more just waiting to be discovered.

The Adams County Historical Society purchased this building in March of 2012 and are restoring the building. The Gunning-Purves building houses the Adams County Heritage Center which is open for research and tours. Contact them directly for the most current information about hours of operation.

Period of Significance:1904
Area of Significance:Architecture
Applicable Criteria:Architecture/Engineering
Historic Use:Commerce/Trade: Financial Institution
Historic Use:Commerce/Trade: Specialty Store
Historic Use:Commerce/Trade: Business
Architectural Style:Commercial Style
Architectural Style:Late 19th And Early 20th Century American Movements
Resource Type:Building
Architect:George L. Mesker & Company
Historic Status:Listed in the National Register
Historic Status:Listed in the State Register
National Register Listing Date:03/03/2015
State Register Listing Date:05/16/2014
Number of Contributing Buildings:1
Number of Contributing Sites:0
Number of Contributing Structures:0
Number of Contributing Objects:0
Number of Non-Contributing Sites:0
Number of Non-Contributing Structures:0
Number of Non-Contributing Objects:0
National Register and State Register of Historic Places, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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