Mirror Lake Hospital (C.A. Spencer House)

Mirror Lake Hospital (C.A. Spencer House)
Period: 1800-1899
Exterior Description:

The 1886 Cross-Gabled Construction of this home is of wood frame and clapboard, in the Queen Anne Style (popular 1880-1910 in Wisconsin). Common details of this style include steeply pitched multiple gable or combination hip and gable roofs, gable projections, bays with elaborate hood moldings or cornices, round or polygonal turrets, or oriels, classical details, and large wrap around verandas. Fenestration is usually irregular both in size and in placement of openings. Although not as elaborate as other high Victorian Queen Anne houses in Waupaca it still reflects the picturesque qualities of the style. The C.A. Spencer House/Mirror Lake Hospital has been altered from its original construction only slightly, with the addition of an attached 2-car garage on its North side. The house is otherwise very original externally. The front (south side) main entry is comprised of a modest sized porch, maintaining its original “turned” posts and hand rails. The front door is large and original to the home, the upper 2/3 of this door is windowed in beveled glass. A Queen Anne style multi-paned stain glass upper sash is seen to the east of the front door. A large picture window is centrally placed for the first floor parlor. A decorative rectangular square multi-paned stained glass window is centrally located on the south side second floor; the remaining 2nd level windows are asymmetrically placed. The third level gable is decorated in squared shingles, with a multi-paned stained glass. The East side of the home is cross gabled with a large picture style window centered on the first floor of the gable and a smaller second story window, the 3rd level of this gable is also decorated with the same square shingle design, with a multi-paned rectangular stained glass window. The remaining window fenestration is asymmetric. A square shingle dormer with vertical battens adorns the southeast corner of the roofline. Added (unoriginal) skylights are seen on the Northeast and Southeast cross gabled roof. Also an (unoriginal) skylight is seen on the east side of the front gabled roof. An original brick chimney pierces the rear (northeast) roofline. The West side of the home is cross gabled; window fenestration is somewhat symmetric. This gable angles back to the home, creating “hooded style” second story windows, with an unusual design carved in each bracket. The 3rd level is once again decorated in a square shingle design. Remaining window fenestration is asymmetric. An entry is situated at the Northwest corner of the home, comprised of a small side porch. A chimney pierces the lower roofline of the Southwest gabled roof. The North side has an attached (unoriginal) 2-car garage. The remainder of the 2nd and 3rd levels on the North side are intact. The 3rd level of the North gable is also adorned in square shingles. Also on the Northeast corner of this property is the original carriage/horse barn, it is in restorable condition. It is painted in original style and color, lending it a very historic presence in the Lake Street District.

Interior Description:

Entry into the front (south) door brings you into the foyer, reception area when it was a hospital. Trim/woodwork is original and unpainted. The open stairway (east) is comprised of turned newel posts and turned spindles in an alternating design. It is built in oak. The unpainted trim is pine. The floor is 2” oak with a ¾” inlay border in stained oak or walnut. All woodwork is original. It is possible that you could access the (east) sitting room by a door originally which is now a wall. To the (west) you enter the front parlor. The original trim/baseboard is pine and painted. Trim (windows) is of the traditional bull’s-eye corner block. This room also has 5” crown molding that is also painted and most likely original. The (northwest) corner is adorned with an original “coal” style fireplace. The mantle is possibly maple, moderately ornate and unpainted. The surround and hearth are tiled in a floral motif. These tiles are in very good condition and original. The flooring is 3” oak and original. To the north you enter the dining room (now). This large entry opening may or may not be trimmed in the original woodwork, which looks original. It may have been modified when converted to a hospital. All trim, baseboard and crown molding is painted. Flooring is once again 2” oak. The large west bay window upper portion is a light blue stained glass and may be original. To the east is a large doorway (unoriginal trim) that probably had French doors originally. This room may have been a sitting room, library or possibly the dining room. Window trim is original (pine) and unpainted. The flooring is once again 2” oak. A diamond shape pattern border of inlayed stained oak or walnut runs around the perimeter of this room. The North wall has an original doorway that accessed (most likely) one of the kitchens pantries, this is now a bathroom. The west (dining room now) accesses the kitchen by two door ways, both four panel doors (painted) and original. The northeast doorway is a direct access to the main kitchen and bathroom (east.) The northwest doorway accesses the back (maids) stairway side porch (west) and also the kitchen. The north wall at the kitchen has a doorway that leads to the attached (unoriginal garage. The doorway may be original, and there is most likely at least one window (north wall) that may have been enclosed. All ceiling heights on the first floor are 9 feet and original. The second floor can be accessed by the main open stairway or the maids’ stairwell. The main hallway flooring is once again 2” oak with a ¾” inlay linear border in stained oak or walnut. The 2nd floor is comprised of four bedrooms. The south bedroom has two doorways an original (southwest) and an added (southeast). The bedroom was once split into two rooms but is now opened up to its original orientation. This room was apparently the nursery, trim and woodwork is painted and original. The floor was base coated with a thin set style mortar/cement when the home was a hospital, probably for linoleum. It is now carpeted. The middle (west) bedroom has original painted woodwork/trim. The floor is 2” maple. The east bedroom is also painted original woodwork/trim with a maple floor 2”. At the Northwest end of the main hall is the doorway to the 3rd floor stairway and then adjacent to that stairway is the maids’ stairway leading down to the kitchen. The northwest bedroom was once the surgery room, woodwork and trim is painted and original, flooring is maple. Interestingly the door to this room was windowed to allow viewing of the surgical suite from the hallway. The bathroom is in the northeast corner of the second floor. It is likely this has always been the site of a bathroom. Woodwork and trim is original and painted. Flooring is now linoleum, but probably has a hardwood floor beneath. All doors are original four panel. Second floor ceiling height is 8’2” and original. The 3rd floor is primarily unfinished except the south portion, which was roomed and trimmed plainly. This was the original maids’ quarters. The basement foundation is comprised of the traditional field stone and cement. It is a full basement.

Statement of Significance:

Its modest Queen Anne architecture contributes to the Historic Lake Street District. C.A. Spencer was also a prominent businessman. In 1884 he took over the Bailey Drug Store in the Masonic block in downtown Main Street Waupaca. Spencer was not a Pharmacist, however, he created a reputation for himself in the trade of the chemical commonly used to kill the potato beetle; the chief pest of potato farmers. Called Paris Green, this arsenic compound was banned in the twentieth century because of its toxicity, but during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, Spencer prided himself for selling the most Paris Green per season in the area. Spencer’s drug store remained at this location until the mid 1920’s. In August of 1936, Dr.’s C. W. Andrews and Sam Salan purchased the “old” C.A. Spencer House and converted it to a small hospital. Known as Mirror Lake Hospital, the facility was operated until 1955, when the new Riverside Memorial Hospital building was erected. Its historic significance as one of Waupaca’s early hospitals led to the development of modern healthcare facilities.

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