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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

Saturday Star: Sheboygan, Wisconsin Saturday, February 25, 1899,   pp. 41-42

Page 41

Bonus of $25,000 Cannot be Raised.
Four Thousand Dollars Still Lacking, which May not be Raised.
A special from Port Washington to last night's Milwaukee Journal says: Things
are not looking as bright as they should for the erection of the Wisconsin Chair company's
plant. The necessary bonus of $25,000 has not yet been raised, although the committee
on subscription has received signatures aggregating $21,000. It is a lamentable fact that
the influence of a certain element, composed of those old residents who are careless of
the welfare of the city, has nearly worked the ruin of the enterprise, and it was only
through the masterly work of the common council that the effect of the influence was
The necessary side tract spur from the main line of the Northwestern to the harbor,
where the plant is located, was also the cause of many misgivings on the part of the
fathers of the city before it was finally settled. It was understood that many of the
property owners would refuse to contribute to the bonus if the proposed spur deteriorated
in any way from the value of their property and this element of dissatisfaction had also to
be overcome before the matter could proceed. It has finally been adjusted, however, and
the surveyors of the Northwestern road were in the city yesterday making the preliminary
surveys. It is a settled fact that the road will put in the spur at their own expense, which is
estimated at about $9,000.
Now after all this comes a new phase of the case. Representatives of a large
Chicago steel company will arrive in the city Saturday, to look over the old foundry,
owned by W. J. Turner of Milwaukee, with a view to locating here. They have seen the
plant before and negotiations have been opened several times, all of them being
unsuccessful because of the fact that the steel people refused to locate here unless a spur
track was built to their foundry. Now that there is a likelihood of the tracks being built, it
is considered quite certain that they will locate here and employ from 100 to 150 skilled
hands, if the chair factory is rebuilt, for on this step hangs the whole thing.
It has transpired that since last evening Mr. Dennett, the president of the company,
has been considering an offer made him by the owners of the large chair factory, formerly
operated by the Wakefield Rattan company, on Roby street, Chicago. Should he accept
this offer, which is understood to be virtually anything he may ask, the chair company
would handle his chairs for him, he would be able to cut out his cheap line and
manufacture nothing but expensive goods and as the plant is all ready for occupancy, he

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