This past month I applied for a plaque for our home through the Oshkosh Landmarks Historic Plaque Program. Molly and I had no idea when we bought our home that there was some history behind our home. I applied for the Wisconsin Historical Society Historic Home Tax Credit program, but we were denied. The WHS said that our home does not exhibit enough architectural character to be accepted into the program. Most of the Craftsman features of the house were lost when the house was re-sided in the 1970s. However, I did not agree with the society’s decision to reject us based on historic significance.
Our home was constructed for Casper R. Fluor. Casper served as a president of the Fluor Brothers Construction Company formerly of Oshkosh. He also served as the vice president of Peoples Brewing Company in Oshkosh for several years. I investigated the property at the Winnebago County Register of Deeds office and discovered that Casper purchased the property in August 1919. According to city tax records, the property assessment shows a significant increase in the year 1921. The 1922 Oshkosh directory also shows the Fluor family at this address in 1922.
Born February 26, 1875, Casper R. Fluor was one of four children of Ralph and Jennie Fluor. Ralph with brothers Simon and Casper started a construction business together in 1870 after they emigrated from Switzerland to Oshkosh. The Fluor’s are credited as building some of this city’s first industrial plants. Casper and Simon left the business in subsequent years and left Ralph and two of his sons, Walter and Casper R., to run it. Simon Fluor moved to California and started a company which continues to thrive today as Flour Corporation. Ralph passed away in 1913 leaving Walter and Casper R. to co-manage the business. Some of the more notable structures built by the company included: Morgan Co., Buckstaff Co., Paine Lumber Co., St. Paul’s Church, Winnebago County fairgrounds barns and grandstand, Wisconsin National Life Insurance, Mercy Hospital, Theda-Clark Hospital, and many other residential, commercial, industrial, and civic buildings.* Casper R. Fluor passed away in our home on April 27, 1955.
I was excited when the Oshkosh Public Museum informed me that they had blueprints for our home. I went in and took a look at them, but was disappointed to discover that it was not my home. However, the prints did say they were for Casper Fluor and dated 1919. These blueprints had to be a preliminary design for the home, but Fluor changed his mind on the design. The architect of the house was Frank A. Thew who also worked for the company. I was surprised to see the blueprint of another one of Thew’s designs hanging on the wall at Parkview Health Center in Oshkosh.
It’s always fun to uncover history associated with your home and the occupants. It seems like every time I do more digging I come up with more information. Someday I hope to come up with the blueprints of our home. It would also be great to find some early photographs of the home and the Fluor family in it. I guess for now the hunt continues, but at least now the city’s Landmark Commission recognizes the significance of the home and the importance of the owners. If you are from Oshkosh, have you considered applying for your plaque? It is great way to learn some history and have your building recognized locally as a historic property.
* “Flour Brothers Started in 1870.” Oshkosh Daily Northwestern, June 18, 1953. Accessed August 30, 2015.