Wisconsin Historical Society

Property Record

610 N 8TH ST

Architecture and History Inventory
610 N 8TH ST | Property Record | Wisconsin Historical Society
NAMES
Historic Name:Joseph Vilas Jr. House
Other Name:RAHR WEST CIVIC CENTER
Contributing:
Reference Number:48269
PROPERTY LOCATION
Location (Address):610 N 8TH ST
County:Manitowoc
City:Manitowoc
Township/Village:
Unincorporated Community:
Town:
Range:
Direction:
Section:
Quarter Section:
Quarter/Quarter Section:
PROPERTY FEATURES
Year Built:1891
Additions:
Survey Date:1985
Historic Use:house
Architectural Style:Shingle Style
Structural System:
Wall Material:Wood Shingle
Architect:FERRY AND CLAS
Other Buildings On Site:0
Demolished?:No
Demolished Date:
DESIGNATIONS
National/State Register Listing Name: Vilas, Joseph, Jr., House
National Register Listing Date:4/29/1977 12:00:00 AM
State Register Listing Date:1/1/1989 12:00:00 AM
National Register Multiple Property Name:
NOTES
Additional Information:A 'site file' exists for this property. It contains additional information such as correspondence, newspaper clippings, or historical information. It is a public record and may be viewed in person at the Wisconsin Historical Society, Division of Historic Preservation. This very fine Queen Anne residence was designed by the notable Milwaukee firm of Ferry and Clas. It is a very large three story home with a steeply pitched gable roof and one main gable wing at the north end with a smaller gabled dormer in the center of the front roof and an imbedded three story tower with conical roof on the south.

The first floor is built of red brick and the second and third floor/gable ends are sided in wood shingles. The gable ends and tower roof all have flared eaves. The second floor has a recessed front porch and the facade flares slightly wehre it meets the first floor brick walls. The main entry features an arched arcaded porch with parallels the arc hed portecochere. Very large single story museum additions have been built to the rear in 1975 and 1986.

The Joseph Vilas house was built in the early 1890s by one of the City's early merchants and political leaders.

Vilas arrived in Manitowoc in 1852 on his way west to Colorado to prospect for gold. He decided to stay in the city, marrying the sister of merchant Jarvis Platt with whom he entered into partnership. Platt and Vilas operated a general store and then got involved in commodities hipping, becoming very successful as one of the first firms to ship grain from Manitowoc.

Vilas also became a local political leader serving as Village President from 1863 to 1865. He also served as a draft recruiter during the Civil War, a Harbor Commissioner, and in the early 1870s a State Senator.

Vilas was also a railroad promoter and, in the mid 1870s, raised subscriptions for a new rail line in Manitowoc. The deal collapsed, the subscription was lost and Vilas felt constrained to leave Manitowoc moving west to get involved in mining ventures.

In 1890, Vilas was welcomed back to Manitowoc, began to build his new home and, in 1893, was elected mayor. His wife died in 1901 and Vilas committed suicide in 1905. Later owners included Reihardt Rahr and the City of Manitowoc (art museum).
Bibliographic References:MANITOWOC HERALD TIMES REPORTER 2/28/1995. A. County Tax Rolls. C. Interview with Richard Quck, Director, Rahr-West Museum and Civic Center. Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter 3/9/1997.
RECORD LOCATION
Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Division of Historic Preservation, Wisconsin Historical Society, Madison, Wisconsin

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