Posts Tagged ‘The Lost Dauphin’

A is for architecture: Music man recycles community 

As a composer, F. Gordon Parmentier knew about musical structure. He knew about building structure, too.

The music man built his home, pretty much by himself, to look like a French chateau.

“My uncle’s home is made up of many older homes in Green Bay that had been torn down in the late ’50s,” Patti Nguyen said. “The entire home — inside and out, every stone, and the doors, windows, latches and the turned staircase — is like a conglomeration of the older homes in Green Bay.”

Parmentier served in the military in France during World War II. He returned after the war and graduated from the Paris Conservatory.

Through much of the 1950s, Parmentier taught and composed in San Francisco. In the late 1950s, he lived in San Francisco in the winter and in the summer built the home on a plot of family land on the east shore of Green Bay.

“He designed the home out of his head, really, just from looking at other homes in Europe and also from looking at a couple of magazine pictures that he took with him from there,” Nguyen said. “He drew a sketch of what he thought he would like and decided to build it.”

Parmentier lived in the home year-round from the early 1960s to his death in January.

“He was a fabulous recycler,” Nguyen said. “He scoured the city and area for buildings that were being torn down.”

The home has four fireplaces, some made with stones from the beach in the area. Its hardwood floors are from old St. Mary’s Hospital. A bathroom corner sink is from a ship. Windows, marble sinks, columns, a built-in china cabinet and more are from homes torn down in the Astor Park and downtown areas.

Family and friends assisted with Parmentier’s vision, which had few bounds.

“My uncle went to the library, and he learned how to do plumbing and electrical, and he did all that himself, too,” Nguyen said. “He mixed the concrete with an original concrete mixer — very old — and it’s still on the grounds. He poured his own basement and made a patio and the steps going up to the doors.”

Parmentier also built two smaller homes on the plot, also from recycled materials.

Composer F. Gordon Parmentier designed and built his Green Bay home in the manner of a French chateau using mostly recycled materials. Warren Gerds/Press-Gazette

Recycled materials that composer F. Gordon Parmentier used in building his home came from near (limestone, wooden arch, door) and far (grate at top, from San Francisco). Warren Gerds/Press-Gazette

  Name of place: F. Gordon Parmentier home
  Address or location: 3473 Nicolet Drive, Green Bay
  Vintage: Late 1950s
  Architectural style: After French chateaus
  Distinguishing characteristics: Large, two-story structure with many windows; overlooks Green Bay
  Main types of materials: Limestone, mortar, cement, glass, wood
  Famous resident: A Green Bay native, Parmentier composed classical music and had works premiere in Paris and around the United States. The Green Bay Symphony Orchestra premiered three of his symphonies.
  Historical links: The Parmentier opera, “The Lost Dauphin,” premiered by Pamiro Opera Company in 2000 at the Weidner Center and was broadcast repeatedly on Wisconsin Public Television. The opera is about Eleazer Williams, an early Green Bay missionary and enigmatic figure who claimed to be heir to the French throne as the son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette.
  Open to public? No.
  Amazing fact: Designed and constructed by Parmentier, the home is made up of many buildings because Parmentier recycled parts of homes, a hospital and farms in the Green Bay area.

Green Bay firefighters torch house donated for training  

It’s not too often Green Bay firefighters get to burn down a house.

The rare opportunity came this week as part of a three-day training session involving about half of the 180-member Green Bay Fire Department.

“This is valuable live-fire training. It’s not something we get to do very often,” Lt. Nick Craig said Thursday.

The home at 3473 Nicolet Drive was scheduled for demolition, and the owner donated use of the house for fire department training. It was the department’s first live-fire training in a residential structure in 19 years, Craig said. 

Firefighters used blowtorches to ignite wood pallets and straw inside the two-story stone house. Fire crews then went in to locate the fire, put it out, search for victims, ventilate the building and carry out overhaul and salvage operations.

The department planned three to four burns a day for three days at the site.

Firefighters receive in-house training almost daily, Craig said.

“If you don’t use it, you lose it,” he said.

Firefighters keep up on new defibrillators, hazardous materials handling, chemical fires, carbon monoxide, ice and cold-water rescues, and confined-space rescues. Newly hired personnel typically receive at least seven weeks of training.

Firefighters also receive training at area vocational and technical schools to keep up on certification.

Northeast Wisconsin Technical College has a three-story burn tower where firefighters practice lifesaving techniques in a structurally safe environment.

Tom Vandenack, fire training coordinator at NWTC, said the college helps train firefighters from 104 departments in a seven-county region.

Finding a suitable structure to burn for training is unusual because of the possibility it could be a danger to nearby homes or air pollution from burning materials, Vandenack said.

Craig said setting fire to the Nicolet Drive structure posed no threat to other homes, yet simulated the kind of real-life situations that firefighters face daily.  and video


It is ended–all is over–it was ordained–and so it was–all pre-ordained–in the stars–it was written-a million years ago, true.  A million years from now.

Misc. details

Location:   3473 NICOLET DR
Parcel:   22-51
Zoning:   R1  Zoning Ordinance  map
Assess Class Code:   A
Floodplain(s):   Floodplain may be present on all or a portion of the parcel. See map for details. map
  Zone AE, 100 year floodplain. Base flood elevations determined.
Land Value:   $194,400.00
Improved Value:   $71,300.00
Total Value:   $265,700.00
Fair market Value:   $279,100.00
Detailed Tax Records:   Property Taxes
Parcel Area (Sq ft):   42389.24 Sq ft.
Parcel Centroid:   Latitude: 44.57012977, Longitude: 87.8999005
Legal Description:   n 1 ac of s 1/2 of govt lot 1 sec 12 t24n r21e lyg btwn hwy & bay shore road
Dwelling Age:  1899 Square Feet:  2120 Sq ft. * Story Height:  2
Description:  COLONIAL Basement (Sq ft):  1060 Sq ft. Fireplaces:  3
Living Units:  1 Family Rooms:  0 Finished Basement:  0
Total Rooms:  8 Recreation Rooms:  0 Full Baths:  1
Bedrooms:  3 Dens:  0 Half Baths:  1