Waukesha, WI Mansion House and Methodist Church Fire, July 1882

The most extensive fire ever seen in Waukesha started in a stable in the rear of the Mansion House livery barns at a few minutes after three this afternoon. Within ten minutes from the time that the fire was first discovered the flames were bursting from every side of the structure, and with the aid of a strong breeze from the west was fast making its way through the group of wooden buildings and fences between its commencement and South street.

The chemical machines were promptly on hand with the usual fruitless results, and at half past three little patches of smoke began to be seen on the roof of the Methodist church, the small wooden residences of Messrs. Sleep and White on South street, were ignited in places, and with the wealth of high wooden fence, woodpiles and sheds in the vicinity, and a roaring sea of flames from the Mansion House stables and Mrs. Blackwell's barn, it looked as though the village might be swept to the court house. In the meantime the Industrial School had been telephoned, but time was consumed in ringing up the office there, so that it was about 4 o'clock when the engine from the School finally arrived.

By this time the rear end of the Mansion House was burning fiercely, and the flame that had long been smouldering burst from the roof of the church. Within fifteen minutes the fire at the hotel was under control, and the attention of the brigade was given to the church, but just as the stream was turned upon the burning roof the hose burst, flooding South street and delaying further operations for about ten minutes. By the time this difficulty was overcome the roof was half burned and the stream of water upon it only served to keep it from sending forth cinders as fast as before.

The flames had now taken a fresh hold upon the Mansion House and the hose was carried back there and that fire speedily and finally extinguished. At the church the fire was at this time confined by the walls and the activity of the people having buildings near, in wetting down the roofs with old blankets and carpets drenched n water, rendered that portion of the village completely save. The steam and hand engines were therefore used for extinguishing the ruins near the Mansion House and are so engaged at this writing - 5 p.m.

Two steam engines which had been telegraphed to Milwaukee arrived about 5 o'clock, but happily found nothing for them to do. Their promptness in coming, however, is extremely gratifying, and renews the obligations which Waukesha owes to the Cream City for services at the Fountain House fire of for years ago.

The losses cannot at this time be accurately estimated. The Methodist church was valued at $15,000 on which there are $5,000 insurance, outside of which the loss is practically total. The Mansion House livery stables are completely swept away with all the horses not then out, and three horses perished in the fire. All the outbuildings in J. J. Clark's place were destroyed and the door-yards from there to Mr. Whites swept clean of their contents, except the houses themselves which were little damaged. Mr. Holbrook's furniture was of course badly damaged by fire, water and removal. The entire losses may figure up in the neighborhood of $20,000, upon which there was insurance of $4,000 by Mr. Holbrook, $1,000 by Mr. Gleissner, proprietor of the livery stables, Mrs. Carney sufficient to cover all damage to the hotel, and probably other insurance not yet ascertained. The cause of the fire has not been discovered.

Continued