Madison, WI Edgewood Villa Fire, Nov 1893

FATAL FIRE IN A SEMINARY.

And Two Little Children Were Suffocated to Death.

MADISON, Wis., Nov. 16. - Edgewood Villa, the former home of the late Gov. C. C. Washburn while Executive of Wisconsin, was burned this evening. It is about three miles from the city and was used as a boarding school for young ladies by the Franciscan Catholic Sisters. Twenty-five pupils were in the school, but all escaped but two.

Two little girls were suffocated while asleep in the upper story of the burning building. These were Maggie Rice of Stevens Point, aged seven years, and Mamie, daughter of a man named Stack, who lives at 645 Forty-fifth Street, Chicago. Francis Henneberry, aged eight years, was also nearly suffocated, but was resuscitated, and is now out of danger.

The sisters are unable to give any explanation of the origin of the fire. They say that about 8:30 o'clock smoke was smelled and an investigation made immediately disclosed the fact that there was a fire in the upper story of the building. A rush was immediately made for the sleeping apartments of the small children, all of whom had been put to bed an hour before. All were taken out, but it was found that the two named were beyond help, although willing hands worked over the bodies for an hour.

Seeing that the building was doomed, and all the children having been accounted for, the sisters, with the help of the neighbors and the city firemen, who had been summoned, did what they could to save what things could be reached, but did not succeed in rescuing much of the property.

Despite the efforts of the neighbors and the city firemen, the flames communicated to a new structure, in course of erection, valued at $35,000, and at midnight this was a total loss.

The fire, after it crossed the short space from the old stone May building to the new brick building, had gained such headway as to be irresistible, and the firemen confined themselves to saving the minor buildings. They had taken with them from the city only the hook and ladder trucks, no engines being used by the city department, water works pressure alone being used, except in case of extreme emergency. But little could be done to stay the progress of the flames. The loss will reach upward of $55,000, which, with the loss of the two little girls, makes this the most serious fire the city has ever seen.

At midnight the new building was still burning, and may burn for several hours.

The New York Times, New York, NY 17 Nov 1893