building of the week – the arcadian spring and bottling works

James Kennedy Anderson, who had been involved in the development of the Silurian Springs Park with his brother, opened the Arcadian Springhouse around 1884.  Shortly thereafter, the original portion of the bottling works was constructed.  In 1885 a small informational booklet was formed to promote the “Ideal Waukesha Water.”


 Interesting facts noted in the booklet include:

•The Arcadian water is drawn from the heart of the spring – about nine feet below the surface – through a solid block-tin pipe directly to the package in which it is shipped; the outlet of the pipe at the bottling house being about 300 feet from the spring and twelve feet below it, so that the water is carried by its own pressure, and does not pass through the pipes and valves of an old pump, as is often the case at mineral springs.

•The water as it bubbles up from the spring has a temperature of 43 degrees Fahrenheit.

•The reaction of the water is alkaline.

•The effect of the water depended on temperature, quantity, time, and carbonic-acid gas.

The Waukesha Freeman reported on the attractive and harmonious character of the buildings, as well as the expanse of the block-tin piping system, saying “the manager, Mr. J.K. Anderson, with ample means at his disposal, has been able to add to the natural advantages of the Arcadian all the advantages that science can suggest in the way of preserving the purity and medicinal properties of the water.” 1

Arcadian Bottling Works Key Project Information

Address:                            900 N Hartwell Avenue, Waukesha WI

Year Built:                         1885

Additions:                         1891

Additions:                         1977

Architectural Style:           Queen Anne

Architect:                          Col. Stephen V. Shipman

Historical Use:                   Industrial Building

Current Use:                      Apartments


Anderson’s wife, Rose Shipman, was the daughter of architect Stephen V. Shipman.  Mr. Shipman designed the bottling house, spring house, and warehouse structures.  The original bottling house was two stories in height, plus an attic.  Constructed of randomly coursed ashlar, it was fenestrated with rectangular windows with stone lintels and sills, and with semicircular openings in the three-story tower structure.

In 1891, Henry Phelps purchased the spring and bottling works and formed the Waukesha Arcadian company.  In 1907 it was purchased by a group of Milwaukee businessmen and renamed the Roxo Beverage Company.  In 1967, the Roxo company was purchased by the Bon Ton. 

When the Arcadian Bottling Works was converted to apartment units in 1977, the building was substantially altered to accommodate the change in function.  Changes include an attic level gable roof, an added stair tower, and altered fenestration. 

Despite the exterior modifications, the historical integrity of the complex remains unchanged.  The buildings are historically significant for their association with the development of Waukesha in the late 19th century, and remain as the only bottling works building left in the City dating from the Height of the Springs Era. 2




1 Schoenknect, John. The Great Waukesha Springs Era 1868-1918.  Chapter 1

2 Wisconsin Historical Society, Wisconsin Architecture and History Inventory, Arcadian Bottling Works, Waukesha, Waukesha, Wisconsin, Reference Number 16784. http://www.wisconsinhistory.org/Content.aspx?dsNav=Ny:True,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963814&dsNavOnly=Ntk:All%7cARCADIAN+SPRING%7c3%7c,Ny:True,Ro:0&dsRecordDetails=R:HI16784&dsDimensionSearch=D:ARCADIAN+SPRING,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:ARCADIAN+SPRING,Dxm:All,Dxp:3

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