342-344 W MAIN ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

342-344 W MAIN ST

Architecture and History Inventory
342-344 W MAIN ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:ROBINSON BLOCK
Other Name:ALMONT BUILDING
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:28713
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):342-344 W MAIN ST
County:Waukesha
City:Waukesha
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1857
Additions:
Survey Date:1980
Historic Use:retail building
Architectural Style:Greek Revival
Structural System:
Wall Material:Limestone
Architect:
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Downtown Historic District
National Register Listing Date:10/28/1983
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989
National Register Multiple Property Name:Multiple Resources of Waukesha
NOTES
Additional Information:The construction of the Robinson Block in 1857 ushered in a new era in the development of Waukesha's commercial district. Previously this area of Waukesha was covered with small scale frame buildings. The Robinson block was a significant change both in scale and materials. The building stands three stories and is constructed of the local Niagara dolomite. The corner site is acknowledged by the curve of the facade and entablature. The south and east elevations form the facade and are finished with small blocks of ashlar laid in a running bond. The remaining elevations reveal the rubble stone construction. rectangular windows pierce the stone walls and are set beneath smooth stone lintels. A simple metal entablature runs above the storefront of the Robinson Block. A heavier curved cornice dominates the roof line and reinforces the horizontal emphasis of the design.

The storefront was remodeled in the 1930's-40's, but is well preserved and nicely detailed and contributes to the significance of the original building.

The Robinson Block is architecturally significant as a representative example of a period of construction, and as a visual landmark. This was the first commercial building to be constructed of stone and in that sense set the tone for buildings erected in the business district. Stylistically, the Robinson Block reflects the retention of Greek Revival tenets; the simple, massive horizontals of entablature and lintels contrast with the more florid Italianate character of much of the district.

Charles L. Robinson began construction on this building in 1856 at the urging of several local businessmen. Robinson and his partner Martin Brown used the first floor for their Harness making and repair business, the second was rented out and the third was a large public hall.

This period of significance for the Robinson Block is from 1857 to 1900 when its importance as a hall was reduced.

For many years, Robinson's Hall was the center of social, cultural and political activities in Waukesha. Most of the recruiting rallies including the original call to arms for the Civil War were held here. It remained the best hall in town for cultural events until the Opera House opened in 1875. Robinson's Hall continued to be used for dances and other social gatherings, but other halls and theatres took the lead. The third floor currently houses offices and apartments.
Bibliographic References:(A) Zimmerman #754. (B) The Five Points Downtown Historic District Walking Tour, Waukesha Landmarks Commission. (C) Loerke, Jean Penn, "Early Waukesha" Waukesha Co. Historical Museum, 1973. (D) Butterfield, C.W. The History of Waukesha Co., Wisconsin, Chicago, 1880, p. 662.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, State Historic Preservation Office, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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