A catalog of the Oyen Collection, from the University of Wisconsin, La Crosse, including a history of the Oyen interior design firm, buildings decorated by the Oyen firm, employees of the Oyen firm / prepared by Joan M. Rausch, with UWL Art History Professor Dr. Leslie F. Crocker.
Interior decorators--Wisconsin Interior decoration--Wisconsin Decoration and ornament, Architectural--Wisconsin Courthouses--United States Church decoration and ornament--Wisconsin
Odin J. Oyen
The Odin J. Oyen firm was once a thriving business in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin, that created original watercolors as proposed interior designs. The firm, or variations of it, existed from the late-1800s up to the Great Depression, generating countless designs for the interiors of courthouses, churches, fraternal organizations, and private residences, in locations across the Upper Midwest and beyond. These often elaborate watercolor designs are generally quite large and may contain elements of gilding lending to an even greater impact when viewing the renditions. It is known that many or most of the original pieces have been bought and sold by private collectors, resulting in a limited selection of items that remain together or in one location.
However, several hundred original watercolors reside in Murphy Library Special Collections, owned by the Wisconsin Historical Society, and are part of the Area Research Center (ARC). In addition to those items, local attorney Nicholas J. Passe acquired over 100 Oyen interior renditions and was willing to allow the Murphy Library Digital Collections to digitize and include those items in the Digital Collections. It is these items that currently make up the Odin J. Oyen Collection available here, with the hope that this digital collection will continue to grow with additional Oyen materials in the future.