Chris Mortenson House
The Chris Mortenson House sits on a small corner lot landscaped with primarily mature shrubs and mature trees. This unusual variation of the Spanish Colonial Revival Style is a one-story house with a flat roof. The roofline is accented with parapet gables on all four elevations. The parapets are trimmed with stone coping and the gables are accented with stone diamonds. Under the parapets, there is a belt course row of subtle brick corbelling. The house has a rectangular plan with an original attached garage projecting from the Southwest corner of the home. The garage has a flat roof with stone coping. A large front porch projects from the east (front) entry. The house is faced with an unusual lattice textured brick most likely manufactured by the Brazil Clay Company of Brazil, Indiana. An advertisement for this company in the Home Buildings Catalog in 1926 indicates that the Brazil Clay Company was manufacturing this type of brick along with other plain and textured bricks. This particular style of brick, distinctive with its lattice effect face, was called Triple-Tex. It was manufactured in different colors and color combinations. The color combinations were said to blend into the lattice texture in a pastel-like manner. A close inspection of the Mortenson House shows the lattice texture of the bricks, which are colored in several different hues in a pastel-like manner, as the advertisement described above states. In this case, the “pastel” colors are warm shades of light and medium brown. The walls of the house are punctuated with a number of sash windows, mostly in groups of two or three. The sashes all have vertically-divided upper lights over single lower lights (window pane). On the South elevation, there is a group of smaller openings. Small rectangular openings sit above the concrete foundation, lighting the basement story. The main entrance to the house sits behind a large porch on the east elevation. The porch has a very low pitched gable roof. The gable is covered with stucco and accented with a band of squares in increasing and decreasing sizes. The roof is supported by thick brick posts that sit on a brick balustrade. Stone courses accept the area above and below the porch openings that are enclosed by screens. The porch posts are accented with stone tabs and the porch also features features a half-timber effect in the gable peak.
The main entry to the home faces east. The porch is enclosed, but was most likely originally open. The 2 panel front door is flanked by side lights (windows) and enters into a foyer. An original shelf with coat hooks is on the back wall. To the left is a French Door entry into the parlour and to the right is a French Door entry into a bedroom. The French Doors are original with a nine pane design. The parlour has twin composite sashed windows facing east and triple composite sashed windows facing south. The floor is currently carpeted but has maple flooring which runs through the entire home. The parlour and dining room are separated by tapered square columned (2 door) bookcases in the same nine pane design. The upper sash of the windows have a four pane vertical muntins. The baseboard, door, and trim work is walnut or dark stained maple to resemble walnut, known as poor man’s walnut. All of the woodwork is original to the home. The trim work around the doorways is a simple trim board with a squared perimeter trim, which was a very common design in the 1910’s and 1920’s. Adjacent to the parlour in the southwest corner of the home is the dining room. The dining room’s original woodwork is also done in a walnut theme. Triple composite sashed windows face south and twin composite sashed windows facing west. The backside of the bookcases are paneled similar to the 2 panel doors throughout the home. True to the period, the dining room still has its original telephone nook. Adjacent to the dining room is the kitchen (northwest corner). Entry is through a swinging 2 panel door. The kitchen cabinets were recently remodeled back to an appearance faithful to the home’s original décor. The floor plan is mostly unaltered, retaining the original breakfast nook with lift seat benches and table. A very interesting and unusual original feature is the skylight over the breakfast nook. The glass is an original textured style multi-pane design. The original trim and floors throughout are maple. Also original and true to the period is a built in ironing board in the hall off the kitchen. The basement stairway and attached garage doorway are off the northwest corner of the kitchen. The smaller second bedroom is off the short kitchen hallway. Its trim and floors are maple. This bedroom also has a small “stepped” and shelved closet, and a twin composite sashed window. Off the hallway is also the bathroom, which retains its original cast iron tub and polygonal sheet tiles. Most interesting to the bathroom is another original, smaller skylight with textured glass. At the end of this hall is the primary bedroom accessed by a two panel door. This bedroom is done once again in “walnut” woodwork. A small walk-in closet accompanies this bedroom. Two twin composite sashed windows reside on the north and east walls. All of the doors, trim, flooring, and hardware is original to the home. The windows are of wood construction and original, with 4 vertical pane upper sashes counter weighted with rope and pulley. The entire home has been altered very little. The decorative picture rail still resides near the ceiling in the main rooms of the home. The floor plan of this bungalow style fits and flows as well for families now as it did originally in 1921. The home now uses hydronic heat, but originally incorporated a forced air system. The original wall and floor registers are still existent in each room. There is a full basement with a stone foundation and cement floor. Ceiling height throughout the first floor is roughly 9 feet.
The Chris Mortenson home was built in 1921. It is an atypical and unusual variation of the bungalow style. The stone/brick parapets and unusual details give this house a modernistic appearance not typically seen on bungalows in Wisconsin. Furthermore, the unusual rusticated brick is not seen elsewhere in Waupaca.