For the first time in more than a decade, the historic Christie House will be open for public tours.
Tours will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20. The cost is $8, and tickets will be for sale at the home on the day of the event. It is one of several events being held in conjunction with Arts on the Square.
The house is the private home of Scott and Shelly Christie. It also serves as demonstration and trial gardens for Graziano Gardens LLC. On the day of the tour, the gardens will also be open for viewing.
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 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.
The Shearer-Cristy home is not only an outstanding example of Queen Anne architecture in Waupaca, it is known as one of the finest examples of the style in the state of Wisconsin.
The characteristic details of Queen Anne architecture include the following:
• Nonsymmetrical 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, intricately carved stairways and fireplace mantels.
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 St.
Construction began in early 1891 and was completed in late 1892 at a cost of $10,000, which was roughly eight to 10 times the average cost of a home at that time.
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 years, as the price intimidated local buyers.
Joseph E. Cristy, a merchant from Ringwood, Ill., had opened a dry goods store in Waupaca in 1904. For awhile, he, his wife, Flora, and their five children lived in various local apartments. By 1907, the Shearers were glad to sell their former home and accepted the Cristy’s offer of $7,000.
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 a very steady decline.
In 1994, Scott and Shelly Christie – no relation to the previous Cristys – purchased the home with a vision 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 and interior woodwork and floors were refinished and retiled.
A thorough exterior restoration included repair and replication of rotten woodwork, as well as replication of the three porches to their original appearance.
Inside, the dècor 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 Homes magazine in 1999. It was featured on the magazine’s front cover in 2001. The home has also been publicized in calendars and even a horror movie.