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Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
([1997])

Milwaukee Sentinel: Milwaukee, Wisconsin Tuesday, February 21, 1899,   pp. 55-61


Page 55

MIL WA UKEE SENTINEL
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 1899
CHAIR FACTORY TO BE REBUILT
PORT WASHINGTON'S FUTURE DEPENDS ON IT.
SUNDAY NIGHT'S FIRE LOSSES AGGREGATE $400,000
PIPEMAN HACKETT WAS FATALLY INJURED.
More Than a Score of Families left Homeless and the Council Takes Action
to Provide Necessary Relief---Milwaukee Firemen Criticize the Local
Firemen for Failure to Respond to Requests for Assistance---A List of the
Losses.
Port Washington, Wis., Feb. 20---"While as yet everything is in a choatic state and
while we have not had a minute's time to think of the future, I think it is likely that we
shall rebuild as soon as we straighten out the losses on our factory. I would not give 15
cents for what remains of the factory. It is a complete loss and the work of the fire was
most thorough. I never saw a plant burned out so clean as our factory was last night."
This is how State Senator F. A. Dennett, president of the Wisconsin ('hair
company expressed himself this afternoon, when asked if the company will rebuild. The
question of rebuilding is a vital issue to Port Washington. On it depends the future of the
little city. The fire loss has been tremendous, but should the company decide not to
rebuild its mammoth establishment at once, it would mean ruin to the town. Six hundred
men are dependent on the works for employment and this number permanently thrown
out of work would make it impossible for the town to continue to exist on a scale it has in
the past.
Long before the flames had been smothered this morning the question, "Will they
rebuild?" was asked on all sides. Stories were circulated that the company was
dissatisfied with the shipping facilities and that even if it should rebuild it might locate
elsewhere. Mr. Dennett said today that it was entirely too early to say what would be
done because he did not know himself, but he intimated very strongly that the company
would rebuild here immediately. "But it will take time to do so. Our loss is not alone on
the buildings and stock, but the inmeasurable manner in which our business suffers is to
be taken into consideration. It would take at least a year to rebuild a plant like we had
yesterday, and during that time our business would practically be at a standstill. That is
the most serious aspect of the situation."


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