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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

Sheboygan Telegram: Sheboygan, Wisconsin Tuesday, February 21, 1899,   pp. 28-30

Page 28

The Future of Port Washington Depends on It.
Fireman Hackett Fatally Hurt.
More Than a Score of Port Washington Families Left Homeless---Council
Takes Measures of Relief.
Senator F. A. Dennett, president of the Wisconsin Chair company, whose plant
was destroyed by fire at Port Washington Sunday night, has expressed himself as follows
regarding rebuilding:
"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
straightened 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."
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.
LOSS NEARLY $400,000.
The total loss is estimated at $399,400. Just how much of this is covered by
insurance has not yet been stated. The losses include twenty business concerns and
twenty-seven homes, that number of families being made homeless. The heaviest loss of
course falls on the chair factory. In addition to all its brick buildings, machinery and
stock, it loses 800,000 feet of hardwood lumber which when once on fire furnished
excellent fuel. The foundry building was partly stored with chairs belonging to the chair
company and these were all burned. In all the other houses the contents were as a rule
saved because the occupants had plenty of time to take out their household goods. The
chair company carried 90 per cent insurance on its property and is therefore well
protected, but the foundry was only insured for $4,500, while all the smaller buildings
destroyed were insured for about one-half their value. The owners therefore will suffer
considerable by the fire losses. Among the property threatened was the tannery of Mayor
Mueller, the Wilson house, and the post office. the flames burning all around these

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