The Shearer / Cristy home is not only an outstanding example of Queen Anne architecture in Waupaca, it’s known as one of the finest examples of the style in the state of Wisconsin.
Caleb J. Shearer, prominent lumberman, lawyer and Waupaca’s mayor at the time, chose famed Chicago architect, George Otis Garnsey’s design for his new residence at 315 E. Lake Street.
Construction began in early 1891 and was completed in late 1892 at the cost of $10,000, roughly 8 to 10 times the average cost of a home at that time.
Mr. Shearer along with his wife and daughter resided there until only 1898, moving for unknown reasons. The residence sat vacant and for sale for nine yeas, as the price intimidated local buyers.
Joseph E. Cristy, a merchant from Ringwood, IL had opened a drygoods store in Waupaca in 1904. For a while J.E., his wife Flora and their five children lived in various local apartments. By 1907 the Shearers were glad to finally sell and accepted the offer of $7,000 from the Cristys.
Three generations of the J.E. Cristy family lived in the home until 1977 when its contents were auctioned and the home was sold. Thereafter, the house went through numerous owners and very steady decline.
In 1994 Scott and Shelly Christie (no relation to the previous Cristys) purchased the home with visions to restore the once grand residence to its former splendor. Since then, the home has undergone a full restoration, being updated with new plumbing, heating and electrical. All floors and ceilings were replastered, interior wood work and floors were refinished/retiled. A thorough exterior restoration included repair and replication of rotten woodwork as well as replication of the three porches to their original appearance.
Room décor and furnishings are primarily of the period. The Christies decided on a historically correct four-color paint scheme using swatches from the late 19th century. The Queen Anne home has subsequently won awards from the state and federal government for its high level of restoration, as well as runner up status in a nationally publicized historic paint contest sponsored by the Victorian Home Magazine in 1999 and was featured on the front cover in 2001. The home has also been publicized in calendars and even a horror movie.
The Shearer / Cristy home, listed on the Local, State and National Register of Historic Places, has 18 rooms boasting 5,300 square feet of original white oak, cherry, maple and fir original woodwork. The original curved, stained and beveled glass remains as well as four fireplaces.
The original floor plan and its intricate ornamentation are a true reminder of a bygone era…the Guilded Age.
Queen Anne Architecture 1875 – 1900
- Non-symmetrical massing of shapes and textures
- Delicately turned spindle-work, horizontal bands, fish scale and shingle ornamentation.
- Turrets, towers and oriel windows.
- Stained, curved and beveled glass
- Varied woods, elegant brick chimneys, steep roofs, thick walls, with intricately carved stairways and fireplace mantels.