Also known as: Rogers,Henry J., House
625 W. Prospect Ave., Appleton, Wisconsin

First house to be fully electrified by hydroelectric generation


Overview Looking Southeast

Photo taken by J.R. Manning June 2017



The Henry J. Rogers house, also known as Hearthstone, is a brick, Queen Anne house of 1880-82. It has been attributed lo William Waters of Oshkosh, one of the foremost architects of the Fox River Valley. The masses of the house are emphasized by the variety of roof-lines, gables, chimneys, dormers and verandas, and by the multiplicity of materials used. The house is done in a light-colored brick which is accentuated by darker brick, by half-timbering, and by shingles. The Rogers house required three years to build...Besides its architectural interest, the Rogers house is decorated and furnished with fine Victorian decorative arts including stained-glass Tiffany lampshades, rosewood furniture, art-glass, and oriental rugs...The porches and verandas have elaborately-carved wood spindles and panels which reflect the even higher quality of the wood detailing throughout the interior of the house. All the woodcarving was done by Henry VanStrom, a European craftsman brought to Appleton by the Rogers family especially for work on their house. Woods used include Wisconsin white oak, cherry and bird's-eye maple. The house was electrically lighted soon after its completion and some of the original electrical fixtures remain. The original electrical insulators were in the form of wooden cleats which were nailed to the rafters. Porcelain tubing was run through the joists to carry wiring. The wiring itself was insulated and silk wrapped. Toggle switches turned the lights on and off. These were hand-made of brass and can still be found in seven places in the house. There were originally nine fireplaces in the Rogers house decorated with Minton tile in scenes from various literary works...

An extensive restoration and renovation program has been carried out by the house's present owners, the H.D. Mares family. This has included cleaning the exterior brick, installing a new roof, replacement of a few porch posts and rails with custom-made duplicates, and a complete re-wiring of the house. [Editor's Note: This was in the mid 1960s.]

...Rogers was a friend of H.E. Jacobs who, in 1882 had taken a job with Thomas Edison. Jacobs convinced Rogers that electricity was the wave of the future, and Rogers devised a scheme to light Hearth Stone, the [Kimberly & Clark] Vulcan Paper Mill, and the Appleton Paper and Pulp Mill electrically. A generator was purchased from Thomas Edison, and Rogers and three other men founded the Appleton Edison Light Company, Ltd., using the Fox River as their source of power. On September 30, 1882, Hearth Stone was illuminated electrically for the first time. This first operation of the Appleton plant followed the opening of Thomas Edison's steam operated Pearl Street Station by only twenty-six days; and Edison's plant was not originally used to light any buildings used solely for residential purposes, though it did light some houses associated with industrial purposes. Thus, Hearthstone was the first residence in America to be lighted from a centrally-located power plant.

Adapted and condensed from the National Register of Historic Places Inventory Nomination Form prepared by Charlene Stant Engel, Preservation Planning Assistant, State Historical Society of Wisconsin, July 13, 1974. A link to the document is listed below under "Sources."

National Register information 

Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on December 2, 1974
Reference number
Architectural style
Victorian: Queen Anne
Areas of significance
Art; Engineering; Architecture
Level of significance
Evaluation criteria
A - Event; C - Design/Construction
Property type
Historic function
Single dwelling
Current function
Single dwelling
Period of significance
Significant years
1880; 1882


19th Century (37,971)
Appleton, Wisconsin (18)
Brick (42,464)
Built 1880 (545)
Built during 1880s (6,515)
Henry VanStrom (1)
House (27,757)
Outagamie County, Wisconsin (49)
Private owner (54,398)
Queen Anne (5,134)
Stone (26,166)
Victorian (19,702)
William Waters (36)
Wisconsin (2,627)

Update Log 

  • June 18, 2017: Updated by J.R. Manning: Updated listing, added description and added photos