Hearthstone Historic House Museum:
Our Place In History
APPLETON'S EARLY ELECTRICAL HISTORY
The country's first hydroelectric central power station using the Edison system began its operation September 30, 1882. The generator was situated in the beater room of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. The three buildings that were lighted on that historic occasion were the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company owned by John Van Nortwick and run by Henry J. Rogers who owned the home on the bluff above, now known as Hearthstone, and Kimberly & Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill located nearby. Only one other Edison central station existed in the nation. Thomas Edison's steam powered Pearl Street Station in New York City began its operation September 4, 1882. It lit several businesses in the Wall Street area.
Shortly after September 1882, the first Edison generator in Appleton was moved for practical reasons to a shed next to the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company, and operated more efficiently from this second location. In November 1882, the Vulcan Hydroelectric Central Station on Vulcan Street next to the blast furnace began to operate. It was the third station to operate, and lit the blast furnace, a flax mill, a woolen mill, the Patten Mill and the residences of A.L. and H.D. Smith.
APPLETON PAPER AND PULP COMPANY
Site of first Edison central hydroelectric station began operation on September 30, 1882. The building burned to the ground in 1891.
On September 30, 1882 electrical history was made in Appleton changing lives forever. For the first time a central hydroelectric power station using the Edison system successfully began its operation by supplying incandescent light to three buildings at once. Inspiration for this central station came from Henry J. Rogers after meeting in July 1882 with H.E. Jacobs, a representative of Western Edison Light Company.
A type K dynamo was purchased and first installed in the beater room of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. By utilizing the same Fox River water power employed by the paper mills, this dynamo provided light to the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company run by H.J. Rogers for owners John and William Van Nortwick, Kimberly-Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill, and Roger's new family residence now known as Hearthstone. Only one other Edison central power station was in operation at that time. Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station in New York City began its operation on September 4, 1882. It was powered by steam and lit businesses in the Wall Street area.
The Roger’s home located on the bluff above the paper mills was the first private residence in the nation lit with an Edison central hydroelectric power station. Investors A.L. Smith, H.D. Smith and Charles Beveridge financed the enterprise, and with Henry Rogers, owned the Fox Valley rights to operate the system.
KIMBERLY & CLARK VULCAN PAPER MILL
Vulcan Mill was lit with the first Edison hydroelectric station September 30, 1882.
The mill was dismantled in 1908.
Kimberly-Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill was built in 1881. It was adjacent to and east of the Genesee Flour Mill, which was converted into the Kimberly-Clark Tioga Paper Mill in 1883. The Atlas Paper Mill was located to the east of the Vulcan Paper Mill. Only the Atlas Mill building remains.
The Vulcan Paper Mill was one of three buildings to be lit on September 30, 1882 with the first Edison central hydroelectric power station. This historic lighting event also powered electricity to the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company and the Roger’s home on the bluff above now known as Hearthstone.
The Vulcan Mill produced book paper. The adjoining Tioga Paper Mill produced print paper and later book paper. The Vulcan Paper Mill was dismantled in 1908. The Tioga Paper Mill was dismantled sometime between 1908 and 1910. The later Vulcan Hydroelectric Power Plant, which is still standing, was built on the approximate site of the Vulcan Paper Mill in 1909. It was originally owned by Kimberly-Clark and then Wisconsin Electric Power Company, now known as WE Energies, and is now a restaurant.
SHED AND LEAN-TO NEXT TO THE APPLETON PAPER AND PULP COMPANY
Site of second Edison central hydroelectric station.
A shed next to the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company building was the site of the second hydroelectric station that powered the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company, Kimberly-Clark's Vulcan Mill and Hearthstone. The generator was moved to this location for practical reasons from the company's beater room. The Appleton Paper and Pulp Company burned to the ground in 1891.
HENRY ROGER’S HOME- HEARTHSTONE HISTORIC HOUSE MUSEUM
First house in the world lit with an Edison central hydroelectric station September 30, 1882.
Hearthstone was lit on September 30, 1882 along with the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company and the Kimberly-Clark Vulcan Paper Mill. Only Hearthstone survives. This was the first time in the world that several buildings were lighted with a central hydroelectric station using the Edison system. Only one other central station in the nation existed. Thomas Edison's Pearl Street Station in New York City began its operation September 4, 1882. Edison's station was powered by steam and lit only businesses.
Hearthstone's rare 1882 Edison light switches and electroliers still are in operation. It is possible that Hearthstone is the sole surviving example of wiring and fixtures in their original location from the dawn of the electrical age.
William Waters, a prominent, Fox Valley, turn-of-the-century architect, designed the stunning home. He gained national recognition for his Wisconsin building at Chicago's 1893 World Columbian Exposition, and is noted for numerous prestigious private and public buildings throughout the Fox Cities, Oshkosh and Wisconsin.
Mr. & Mrs. Henry J. and Cremora Rogers and their daughter, Kitty, lived in their home approximately 11 years. They left Appleton in 1893. The house then changed hands nine times. In the 1930s it was a public restaurant called The Hearthstone because of its nine fireplaces.
In 1986 the City of Appleton considered razing the building. A grass-roots effort by 13 or more Appleton residents raised enough money to purchase the property in December 1986, saving it from destruction. The group formed the Friends of Hearthstone, Inc. and opened the home as a museum emphasizing its Edison heritage. The building is being restored to the historic era 1880-1895. Today guests from throughout the country and the world tour this amazing example of early domestic electricity.
VULCAN HYDROELECTRIC CENTRAL STATION
Site of third Edison central hydroelectric station and began Operation November 1882.
The Vulcan Hydroelectric Central Station began its operation in November 1882. It was capable of running 250 Edison electric lights. This station was originally located on Vulcan Street near the Appleton blast furnace, and began to operate several months after the historic lighting of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company, Kimberly-Clark's Vulcan Paper Mill and Hearthstone on September 30, 1882. This central station lit the blast furnace, a flax mill, a woolen mill, the Patten Mill and the residences of A.L. and H.D. Smith on the hill. A replica of the station is located off Lawe Street. The Vulcan Hydroelectric Central Station can be considered the first "commercial" hydroelectric station. Technically, it was the third power station used in Appleton to power hydro electricity. The first power station was in the beater room of the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. The second was in a lean-to adjoining the Appleton Paper and Pulp Company. There was no other central hydroelectric power station in the nation in 1882. Most cities had no such central power until the 1890s or later.
Appleton entrepreneur Henry J. Rogers and investors A.L. Smith, H.D. Smith and Charles Beveridge owned the license to operate this central station. Early accounts vary as to whether the cost for each "lamp" or bulb was $1.20, $1.50 or $2.00 per month. Hydroelectricity produced from the Fox River later provided other forms of power and heat to area residents and businesses.
This early success was followed by a few other firsts. Appleton claims the first hydroelectrically lighted hotel in the "west", which was the Waverly House lit in 1883. It also claims the first hydroelectrically lighted college building, Lawrence's Ormsby Hall lit in 1886; and the first continuously successful commercial electric trolley system in the nation, which operated from August 16, 1886 until April 6, 1930. These successes led to the incorporation of the Appleton Edison Electric Company in 1890.
© 2016 Hearthstone House Museum