Wester, Kevin J. (ed.) / Consumed by fire : a collection of writings about the famous Wisconsin Chair Company fire, Port Washington, Wisconsin, February 19, 1899
Addendum: Port Washington Star: Port Washington, Wisconsin Saturday February 17, 1900, p. 81
ADDENDUM: PORT WASHINGTON STAR PORT WASHINGTON, WISCONSIN SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 1900 THE WISCONSIN CHAIR COMPANY'S NEW FACTORY. A year ago, on Sunday February 19th, 1899, occurred the great Port Washington fire. The Wisconsin Chair Company's factory, one of the largest in the world, was burned to ashes, together with several blocks of business houses and residences, docks, and other property. Six hundred workmen were thrown out of employment in the dead of winter, many of them homeless. Stagnation seized every business enterprise. The city's hopes and prospects had been blasted in a night. Desolation and ruin seemed the only prospect in store for the people. But, stricken and almost hopeless as they were, no supplicating voice was raised for outside hope by the people of Port Washington. Then, as ever before and since, they relied upon their own resources. The city took care of its own needy ones. Situations were obtained elsewhere for hundreds, and they were sent away. Dazed for a week by the great blow and loss that had come upon them, no effort was made towards rebuilding the town. Then came a proposition from the Chair Company, asking a $25,000 bonus and a side track. The Northwestern road would build the side track---if the city paid the right of way. The common council held a meeting and called in many of the leading citizens. A start was attempted on the bonus. G. Biedermann & Co. gave $1,500. The Gilson Mfg. Co. gave $1,000, The Boemer Bros. gave $1,000. Others gave smaller sums. Week after week went by. Many public meetings were held. Finally the bonus was raised. The right of way for the side track was equally hard to secure. Weeks of valuable time were consumed before success rewarded the efforts. But success---ever the reward of industrious and intelligent effort---at last was realized. Many busy workmen were engaged throughout the summer and fall in rebuilding the burned district and the mile spur from the main line of the Northwestern railroad. Before the year ended all was finished. The factory has been running for the past two or three months. It is bigger and better than ever. A fine new line of chairs are being produced. Traveling salesmen are in all parts of the country, and orders in plenty are coming in. The success of the company and the prosperity of the city is assured.
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