​The William S. and Helen C. Paul House (1904)
As early as 1883, William S. Paul purchased horses and a wagon and entered the Racine “express business”, running a delivery service.  Born in Ireland, he immigrated to the United States about 1870, worked as a sailor, then a policeman.  Later he ran the delivery business, Paul & Chaffee, from his residence at 1508 North Michigan Street moving “pianos and furniture”.  In 1889 he bought that lot, as well as two adjacent lots as far as the corner of North Michigan Street and Kewaunee Street.  By 1904, he built a splendid new house on that corner lot, the house that Jim and Nancy Rooney live in today.

By the turn of the twentieth century architectural tastes had moved away from the excessive ornamentation of the Queen Anne style as was often seen in the Racine Southside Historic District.  Mr. Paul chose a simpler cleaner plan for his house and this Princess Anne style reflected the same basic form of the Queen Anne style without the extensive exterior decorative work. The floor plan is asymmetrical with the two-story bay and porch facing the lake and a south side extension featuring cut-away bay windows.  The roof has multiple cross-gables with elegant cornice returns and the Michigan Boulevard porch extends the full width of the house.
Mr. Paul had married Helen C. Becker in 1896 and they adopted a son, Charles. In 1904 the house carried the address of 200 Kewaunee Street indicating that an original entrance may have faced the south side but shortly thereafter the address was changed to 1500 Michigan Blvd.  Mr. Rooney reports that as a child when his family lived around the corner he remembers a porch on the Kewaunee Street side. Mrs. Paul lived in the house until her death in 1942 and Charles sold the house shortly thereafter. 

Originally the house accommodated space for two families.  As early as 1906 Mrs. Paul’s mother and brother lived in the home; later census records list various ‘roomers’.  When Alex Nygren bought the house about 1947, his family made further refinements to more easily accommodate two families, enlarging kitchen space upstairs and installing a bathroom on the first floor.

Jim Rooney’s family had long lived in this northside neighborhood and in 1967 Jim and Nancy moved into the Michigan Boulevard house.  James Rooney is a former Racine County Director of Public Works, and served as a Racine County Supervisor and Wisconsin State Representative (1972-1984). As Jim and Nancy needed space for themselves and their four children, they set about making the house a one-family home, building a garage, covering the basement entrance with an enclosed porch, renovating the bathrooms, dining room and kitchen while retaining many original features of the house.

Preservation Racine wishes to sincerely thank Jim and Nancy for sharing their delightful lakeside home with us.