Kewaunee in Kewaunee County, Wisconsin — The American Midwest (Great Lakes)
The Great Kewaunee Fire
Shortly before midnight May 19, 1898, a fire broke out in a barn on Milwaukee Street near the northeast corner of Milwaukee and Ellis. Fanned by strong, cold northeast winds, the fire soon engulfed many of the buildings on the north side of Ellis Street between Milwaukee and Main.
The new steam pumper, the hand pumper, and the valient efforts of volunteers were no match for the strong winds and intense heat, which soon caused the fire to spread to the buildings on the south side of Ellis Street.
By early morning, the fire was contained, but the downtown business district was virtually destroyed. A fire engine sent by special train from Green Bay arrived too late to be of aid. In all about 30 buildings valued at about $85,000 were lost, about 60-70% of the loss covered by insurance.
By later the next day, many merchants had set up temporary quarters. Plans were soon made for rebuilding. New building codes were passed and other measures taken in an effort to prevent such a disaster from ever occurring again. A new modern business district soon rose from the ashes.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: Disasters. A significant historical date for this entry is May 19, 1775.
Location. 44° 27.489′ N, 87° 30.174′ W. Marker is in Kewaunee, Wisconsin, in Kewaunee County. Marker is at the intersection of Milwaukee Street (State Highway 42) and Ellis Street (State Highway 29) on Milwaukee Street. The marker is attached to the corner building. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 224 Ellis Street, Kewaunee WI 54216, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 3 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Early History of Kewaunee (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Civil War and Cuban Veterans Monument (about 800 feet away); Courthouse Square (approx. 0.2 miles away); Car – Ferry Service (approx. 0.2 miles away); Barge "Emerald" (approx. half a mile away); Father Marquette (approx. 0.6 miles away); Kewaunee Marsh Arsenic Spill Area (approx. 1.4 miles away); Kewaunee County Lime Kilns (approx. 2.4 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Kewaunee.
More about this marker. captions:
• The shaded buildings were destroyed in the fire of 1898. This diagram does not show correct proportion or exact location. Smaller buildings were not included.
• This is the way Kewaunee's business district looked on the morning after the big fire. Buildings that survived the blaze were (1) Bach, Kieweg, and Poser Store (2) Commercial Hotel (3) Bitzan Saloon (4) Mashek's Hardware Store (5) the Bank of Kewaunee.
Also see . . . Kewaunee History. Kewaunee Chamber of Commerce website entry (Submitted on September 21, 2014.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 11, 2021. It was originally submitted on September 21, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin. This page has been viewed 543 times since then and 84 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4. submitted on September 21, 2014, by Keith L of Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin.