Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

137 E 3RD ST

Architecture and History Inventory
137 E 3RD ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
Historic Name:Dr. Frank W. Epley Office (Medical)
Other Name:Nature's Pantry
Reference Number:47988
Location (Address):137 E 3RD ST
County:St. Croix
City:New Richmond
Unincorporated Community:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
Year Built:1883
Survey Date:1983
Historic Use:small office building
Architectural Style:Cross Gabled
Structural System:
Wall Material:Wood
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished Date:
National/State Register Listing Name: Epley, Dr. Frank W., Office
National Register Listing Date:5/31/1988 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:Multiple Resources of New Richmond
Additional Information:This 1 1/2 story building hsa wood shingle exterior fabric. There is a gabled roof with a box cornice and asphalt shingles covering it. The plan is a T-plan and foundation exterior fabric is concrete wash. Window frames are wood with entablature heads. A plain frieze is under the eaves. The front or south side has an entry under a shed roof. This is west of the ell formed by the T-plan. West of this is a small one story addition with a square six paned window and gable roof. East of the ell is a 6/1 window. The central section has the gable end of the roof facing the road. A 1/1 window is in the gable nad paired 6/1 windows with shutters are below this on the first story. The south part of the west side has 6/1 window, on the first story, as does the north section. There is another window above this. A one story addition with a shed roof is at the rear or north side. On the east side has a one story addition with an entry. Paired 1/1 windows are in the gable and a multi-paned window is in the small one story addition on the south part of this side. Landscaping is minimal and the lot is veryb small. The building sits next to a parking lot. It is in excellent condition and although there have been changes, the basic integrity of this building still exists. Background: This building was the property and later office of Dr. Frank W. Epley. He was born in Springwater, N.Y. in August 1851. His father was German and his mother was a Quaker. They moved to wisconsin when he wsa a child. Frank worked in a drugstore in Fond du Lac in 1871 and did the same job in Hudson in 1872. From 1874-1877 Epley attended Rush Medical College. After graduating he began practicing medicine and surgery in New Richmond. On June 21, 1877, Epley and Anna Hoyt were married. Her father was a doctor in Hudson. The Epley's had five children, one who also became a doctor. Dr. Epley was the Soo Line Surgeon c. 1885. He was more interested in prevention of disease rather than the cure of it. Research using microscopes and tissue examination were two other raeas of interest. In 1890 Epley performed the first appendctemy in the area. The first diptheria shots given locally were administered by him in 1895. In 1895-6 he was also president of the Wisconsin State Medical Society. Today the museum of Medical Progress in Prairie du Chien has many of Dr. Epley's artifacts on exhibit. The building at 137 East Third Street was Dr. Epley's office at the time of the JUne 12, 1899 tornado. Although heavily damaged, it was the only doctors' office from which medical supplies could be salvaged. The doctor served on the medical relief committee after the storm. He was elected by business and civic leaders to solicit funds from communities outside the city (including out of the state). He formulated a lan to tax every Wisconsin county and use this money to aid Nw Richmond. It was only half-heartedly endorsed by the governor and, therefore, not fully implemented. Among the many offices Epley held were city mayor 1902-1904, health officer, surgeon for the Omaha and Soo Lines and a member of the board of pension examiners. He belonged to the Wisconsin State Medical Society, St. Croix County Medical Society, AMA, The Minnesota State and Fox River Medical Societies (honorary) and the Inter-County Medical Society. He was also an Odd Fellow and a Mason. As mayor Epley was interested in street and sidewalk improvements. He left a detailed mayor's report in 1904 when his tenure ended. This covered not only what had been done during his term in office but also things that needed to be done (see government chapter). Epley declined renomination saying that the position was taking up too much of his time. Dr. Epley establihsed and was president and general manager of Apple River Power Company in Somerset, Wisconsin in 1897. The company developed water power and transmitted it to the city so that there would be continuous service. New Richmond contracted with the company in 1898 for water and electric power to supplement its own supply. Shortly before the 1899 tornado, Epley bought into the telephone4 company. This was destroyed and he rebuilt it as the Phoneix Telephone Company. Before it was sold in 1905, the exchange was run out of his office. A congregationalist himself, the doctor gave bells to both the Catholic and Congreationalist churches. He also had an interest in music and donated an organ to the Congregational church and two pianos to the school system. In 1886 Epley built a 50 foot windmill tower and water tank. The newspaper in July of 1887 noted that this lot was the only one with a green lawn. The system was put up for fire prevention, lawn and garden watering and for use with a fountain. The doctor retired from active medical practice in 1907. In 1908 he fell into his cistern (while checking the water level) and died. His son used this as his office after this. Anna Hoyt Epley was born on September 3, 1851 in St. Croix Falls and moved to Hudson with her family in 1853. She attended Appleton Academy in New Hampshire and received a master of letters in Latin, Greek and French. Until her marriage, Anna wa principal of Stillwater High School. She was on the New Richmond School Board and one of the founders of the library here. In fact, the first organizing meetings were held at the Epleys and Anna became the first librarian. In 1900 she wrote "A Modern Herculaneun", an account of the 1899 tornado. Both Epley's home and office were located on the NE corner of South Arch Avenue and East Third Street. They were hit in the tornado and he rebuilt around them. Today only the office exists. Prior to the tornado the home was a two story clapboard residence with a front bay window. It had seven rooms, halls, clothes presses, a large porch and an ell with a kitchen, dining room, bath and chambers above. This was NE of the office (parking lot now) and north of the office were the barns. The second house was similar in size and style but with less ornament. In 1878 Epley obtained this property. The office and home were probably put up soon after this. Throughout the years a number of mortgages are taken out and paid back, so it is hard to pinpoint an exact date. Sanborn Maps show both house and office here in 1887 and 1892. At this time the office was still listed as a dwelling. At the time of the tornado it was in use as an office. It was rebuilt on the same spot but an ell to the east was put on. A one story N & E side addition was on the 1912. An early 20th century photo shows (between 1900-1908) the office with the same basic shape as today. It had clapboard exterior fabric and woodwork in the front gable that looks like a bargeboard flush to the wall. The entry has a bell cast roof. Although the exterior has had some changes, they are reversible. The importance of Dr. Epley to the community outweighs the minor alterations. Significance: Dr. Epley was an important local civic leader and businessman. He brought phone and electrical service to the city and had a pivotal role in its recovery from the 1899 tornado. His medical career was outstanding. This is true not only locally but on a wider level, sa is reflected by the importance the Prairie du Chiene Museum of Medical Progress attaches to him. Because of the association with Dr. Epley this building has historical significance.
Bibliographic References:A. Sanborn Maps, 1887, 1892, 1900, 1912, 1927. B. Abstract lent by owner/New Accounts. C. New Richmond Intensive Survey Report 1983.
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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