Exterior of Oviatt house Ovitaa House, built 1883, still standing. User as foundation office

The Oviatt House was constructed in 1883 for Oshkosh attorney Moses Hooper, an authority on water power laws and a long serving legal counsel for Kimberly Clark. Hooper chose local architect William Waters to build his Gothic Revival style home of blue limestone. The interior was very luxurious and included hardwood decoration, hand-painted fireplace tiles depicting scenes from Shakespeare, and a mural of a forest scene painted in soft greens by Gustav Behncke. After living in the home for seven years, Hooper sold the property to Dr. Charles W. Oviatt, a noted surgeon and physician, on September 20, 1900. After his death in 1912, Dr. Oviatt’s heirs sold the house to the State Normal School Regents.

 

 

Interior of Oviatt dormroom, circa 1915

The Oviatt House was officially obtained by the university in 1913 with plans to use it as the president’s residence. It soon became clear that there was a great demand for student housing and the plans for the Oviatt House changed. The building became the first dormitory on campus, housing only female students. The twelve girls who lived in the dormitory were supervised by a housemother, Eleanor Sheldon, to prevent homesickness and “unwise amusements”. In addition to the girls who lived in the dormitory, twenty other girls ate their meals there. Because its small size caused economical problems for the university, the Oviatt House soon became inadequate for use as a dormitory, and in 1930 it was converted into the president’s residence and used for that purpose until 1990 when it became the headquarters of the UWO Foundation. The Oviatt House was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States in 1979.

For more information regarding the Oviatt house, visit the UW Oshkosh Foundation's Website at: http://www.uwosh.edu/foundation/oviatt.htm

 

Lion's head doorknob
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