Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

101 N MADISON ST

Architecture and History Inventory
101 N MADISON ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:WRIGHT HOUSE HOTEL
Other Name:
Contributing: Yes
Reference Number:44837
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):101 N MADISON ST
County:Grant
City:Lancaster
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1868
Additions:
Survey Date:2005
Historic Use:hotel/motel
Architectural Style:Commercial Vernacular
Structural System:
Wall Material:Brick
Architect:
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Courthouse Square Historic District
National Register Listing Date:4/7/2006 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/20/2006 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information: THE WRIGHT HOUSE IS CHARACTERIZED BY RECTANGULAR WINDOW OPENINGS ACCENTED BY STONE LINTELS AND SILLS AND SEPARATED BY PILASTERS WHICH RISE THREE STORIES AND JOIN TO FORM ROUND ARCHES WITH KEYSTONES. A SIMPLE BRICKWORK PATTERN AT THE CORNICE LINE IS ALSO FEATURED. THIS THREE STORY BUILDING HAS A SQUARE PLAN CONFIGURATION, A FLAT ROOF AND A RED BRICK EXTERIOR. THIS 1868 STRUCTURE IS CONSIDERED TO BE IN GOOD CONDITION. (A).

THE HISTORIC USES OF THIS BUILDING INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING: A HOTEL WAS IN OPERATION FROM 1868 TO 1914, (A,D,E); THE DOOLITTLE HOSPITAL EXISTED THERE FROM 1914 TO 1954, (D); AND A BANK CONDUCTED BUSINESS THERE FROM 1915 TO 1924, (F).
THE SURVEY EVALUATION CRITERIA WAS ARCHITECURAL/ENGINEERING DATA.

ARCHITECTURAL SIGNIFICANCE:

THE WRIGHT HOUSE (OR WRIGHT BLOCK, AS THE BUILDING IS KNOWN LOCALLY), A LARGE CORNER STRUCTURE COMPOSED OF A THREE STORY MAIN BLOCK AND ADJOINING TWO STORY SECTIONS (113 NORTH MADISON STREET, 42/14, AND 121-129 NORTH MADISON STREET, 42/15), IS A DOMINANT VISUAL FEATURE OF THE COURTHOUSE SQUARE HISTORIC DISTRICT. IN ADDITION, WITHIN THE DISTRICT THE SIMPLY STATED STRUCTURE PROVIDES A FINE AND INTACT ILUSTRATION OF MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY COMMERCIAL ARCHITECTURE.

HISTORICAL BACKGROUND:

ORIGINALLY KNOWN AS THE PHELPS HOUSE, THE WRIGHT HOUSE WAS CONSTRUCTED IN 1868 BY JOHN WRIGHT. IN 1869, F. B. PHELPS TOOK OVER MANAGEMENT OF THE HOTEL, FOLLOWED BY CHARLES ORTON IN 1874 AND IRA BELLOWS IN 1875. A CONTEMPORARY NEWSPAPER ACCOUNT PROVIDED THE FOLLOWING DESCRIPTION OF THE HOSTELRY: "ALL TRANSIENT AS WELL AS LOCAL CUSTOMERS FIND THE PHELPS HOUSE A POPULAR RESORT, AND ACCORD TO IT MUCH PRAISE." (A). ACCORDING TO THE SANBORN MAPS, THE HOTEL'S OFFICE AND DINING ROOM WERE LOCATED ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF THE BUILDING AND HOTEL ROOMS ABOVE. (E).

IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY, THE FIRST FLOOR OF THE HOTEL WAS OCCUPIED BY THE FARMERS & CITIZENS BANK, ESTABLISHED IN 1915 AND ABSORBED BY THE UNION STATE BANK (NOW THE UNION BANK & TRUST, 105 W. MAPLE STREET, 47/33) IN 1924. (F). IN 1927, THE LANCASTER POST OFFICE WAS LOCATED ON THE FIRST FLOOR AND THE DOOLITTLE HOSPITAL ON THE FLOORS ABOVE. (E). THE DOOLITTLE HOSPITAL, A SIXTEEN BED FACILITY, WAS ESTABLISHED IN 1914 BY DRS. S. W. AND J. C. DOOLITTLE AND OCCUPIED THE WRIGHT HOUSE FROM THAT TIME UNTIL 1954 WHEN LANCASTER'S MEMORIAL HOSPITAL WAS COMPLETED.

A PHOTOGRAPH OF THE WRIGHT HOUSE IS INCLUDED IN THE SOUVENIR OF LANCASTER. (C).

2005-
The three-story-tall Commercial Vernacular form Wright House Hotel was completed in 1869 and it was Lancaster's most imposing building at that time. It was built as a hotel and features a three-story rectilinear plan main block that comprises the southwest corner of the city block on which it is located. This brick-clad building rests on a stone foundation. The N. Madison St. elevation of the building is five-bays-wide and symmetrical in design and has a centered entrance door in the first story of its middle bay. The right-hand (east) three bays of the first story of the seven-bay-wide E. Maple Street side elevation are given over to a deeply inset entrance that is flanked on its right by a two-bay-wide storefront that originally lit the hotel's restaurant. All of the bays on these two elevations are separated from one another by three-story-tall pilaster strips and both elevations are crowned by tall corbelled brick cornices. In addition, all the flat-arched window openings in these bays have dressed stone sills and lintels, but the original two-over-two-light double hung wood sash windows that filled them was replaced with one-over-one-light examples early in the twentieth century.

Attached to the north-facing side elevation of this building's main block is a two-story-tall eight-bay-wide rectilinear plan Commercial Vernacular form wing that fronts onto N. Madison St. This wing was built in 1883 and it too is clad in brick and rests on a stone foundation. The main facade faces west onto N. Madison St. and the right (south) half of its first story consists of a now altered storefront that originally served the hotel's sample room. Crowning the facade is a corbelled brick cornice that is identical to the one found on the three-story main block. The facade retains its original two-over-two-light windows in its second story.

This two-part building was built on the site of the Banfill House, a frame two-story building that was one of Lancaster's first hotels. The original owner of the present building was John Wright, who first leased it to Fred Phelps. Phelps called the hotel the Phelps House and it was known by this name until Wright finally took it over and ran it himself, renaming it the Wright House. Although the original storefronts have now been altered and the windows on the main block have been replaced with later ones, the building retains a highly intact appearance today, as is confirmed by comparison with numerous extant historic photographs.
Bibliographic References:A. THE ADVOCATE, 5 JANUARY 1876. B. 1894 SANBORN PERRIS MAP. C. WATTON'S SOUVENIR OF LANCASTER, 1900, P. 9. D. NEWSPAPER ARTICLE, NO CITATION, VERTICAL FILE, ARC, UW-PLATTEVILLE. E. 1894, 1899, 1905, 1912, 1927 SANBORN PERRIS MAPS. F. PAUL J. HOFFMAN, "HISTORY OF BANKS IN LANCASTER," N.D. LANCASTER HISTORICAL SOCIETY. G. GRANT COUNTY HERALD. APRIL 13, 1869, P. 3. H. CITY OF LANCASTER TAX ROLLS. 2005, Timothy F. Heggland. National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Courthouse Square Historic District, Lancaster, WI.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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