Pollock Alumni House
The Building's First Owner
Pollock Alumni House was built in 1920 for Oshkosh industrialist William E. Pollock, one of the early leaders of the company that would become OshKosh B'Gosh.
Born in Illinois in 1872, Pollock left school at age 15 to work in his father's mercantile store. In 1911, he moved to Oshkosh and took over Oshkosh Clothing and Manufacturing. The company's name changed twice - first to Oshkosh Overall Co. and then to OshKosh B'Gosh in 1937. Legend has it that Pollock heard the phrase "OshKosh B'Gosh" in a vaudeville skit while on a buying trip in New York. The trademark bib overalls were labeled with the B'Gosh name as early as 1911.
Pollock retired from OshKosh B'Gosh in 1934, and moved to Miami Beach, Fla. a few years later. He returned to Oshkosh frequently and continued supporting many community projects. One of the projects that was dearest to Pollock was the construction of an outdoor swimming pool for the people of Oshkosh. He donated $50,000 to construct Pollock Pool in memory of his wife, Olive, who died in 1954. The swimming pool was dedicated in 1960. Pollock died in 1961 at the age of 88.
About the Property
Pollock bought the Algoma Boulevard property in 1919 from William Radford, one of the founders of the Radford Company. He demolished the Radford home. In 1920, the Fluor Brothers of Oshkosh built the house that exists today. The cost was $19,000.
The home, as well as a three-car garage, was set back on the lot at 765 Algoma Blvd. The yard included a large garden and a giant fish pond.
Pollock lived in the home from 1920 to 1937, and then sold it on a land contract. He retained the house, however, when the land contract wasn't completed. In 1943, Pollock donated the house to the Oshkosh State Teachers College. At the time, the Alumni Association made a contribution to make the transfer to University possible.
The University's Role
The home was converted to a dormitory for up to 32 women in 1946. In the 1960s, it was used as an honors dorm. The Pollock House remained a dormitory until 1967.
From 1967 to 1970, it housed the administrative offices of the newly formed College of Nursing. When the college moved into the new Nursing/ Education building, the Pollock House was assigned to the Alumni Association for developing an alumni and adult center on campus.
A Real Treasure
Designed in a Mediterranean Revival style, with a mixture of Spanish and Italian motifs, the home's outside is framed by concrete planters and topped by a wrought-iron balcony outside of the second floor French windows. The roof is low-pitched, with red-barrel tile, one of the strongest distinguishing characteristics. All three chimneys are capped with campaniles that resemble bell towers in Italy.
The interior, now housing alumni, foundation and Center for Scholarly Teaching offices, is substantially unchanged. An ornate wrought-iron semi-circular door welcomes visitors into a large foyer. The expansive front entry hall opens onto a large living room on one side and to a smaller parlor on the other. To the rear is a formal dining room, kitchen and pantry.
The most dramatic feature is a formal staircase that rises to an open landing and to a study. The second story bedrooms have been converted into offices.
Thousands of alumni, students, faculty and visitors have attended functions at the Pollock Alumni House. Since 1970, visitors have included former President Jimmy Carter, former United Nations Ambassador Jean Kirkpatrick, Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Edward Albee, as well as other government officials, scientists and foreign dignitaries.
All information was taken from historical files of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh Alumni Office, the Oshkosh Public Library and clippings from the Oshkosh Northwestern.