Appleton, WI Irving Zuelke Building Fire, Jan 1928

Business District of Appleton Threatened

(Special to The Northwestern)

Appleton, Wis. - In sub-zero weather, firemen from Appleton and five surrounding cities fought a fire at the corner of College avenue and Oneida street, which, for a time, threatened the entire business section of this city. While it was possible to prevent spread of the flames, the structure attacked was completely destroyed, with a loss estimated at a quarter of a million dollars.

The property involved was a brick building, directly at the corner with a frontage of sixty feet, on College avenue, and 100 feet deep along Oneida street. It was occupied by two stores and several offices. It was owned by Irving Zuelke and his loss on the buildinhg alone is placed at $65,000. All that remains standing is the front wall, and that will have to be razed.


In the building were the stores of the Irving Zuelke Music company and the Continental Clothing company. Their losses were $80,000 and $75,000 respectively, representing total destruction. Upper rooms in the building included the following: Karl Schuetter, merchant tailor, loss $20,000; Ryan & Cary, $5,000; Mark Catlin, $4,000; J. F. Bannister, dancing and theatrical studio, $6,000; R. E. Carncross, realtor, $1,000.

The fire started in a room adjoining the furnace room in the basement and was not caused by the heating plant as was first reported. The cities and villages which lent aid to the local department in fighting the fire were Oshkosh, Menasha, Little Chute, Kaukauna, Hortonville, and Combined Locks.


Appleton, Wis. - (AP) - Fire which broke out in the Irving Zuelke building in the heart of the business district, Wednesday night, destroyed the structure with an estimated loss of $250,000 and, for a time, threatened surrounding buildings.

Firemen were seriously hampered in their efforts to combat the blaze by dense clouds of smoke, a temperature of 5 degrees above zero, which resulted in low ater pressure, and the necessity of calling upon the fire departments of neighboring cities for assistance.


The blaze started in the basement of the building, and clouds of smoke prevented firemen getting at the flames until they had worked their way up through the roof. A light snow fall, during the early part of the night, probably prevented sparks blown by a high wind, flow spreading the flames to other buildings. The flames were under control, shortly after 1 a. m.


The old steam engine which had not been used for five years, was taken to the fire, but a few minutes of work indicated the necessity of calling for aid from nearby towns.

When additional fire fighting apparatus had arrived the fire had gained much headway. Streams of water were played upon adjacent buildings to prevent the flames from spreading.

One wall of the structure caved in at midnight and the rear and a side wall collapsed soon after. The facade of the building was all that remained this morning.


Despite the severe cold, thousands of persons remained until early morning.

The firemen were coated with ice formed by the spraying hose lines. Fumes and smoke from the burning fuel oil tanks in the basement hindered their work in the early stages of the fire.

The Daily Northwestern, Oshkosh, WI 26 Jan 1928


From the standpoint of pecuniary loss, the fire which destroyed the Irving Zuelke building, on the corner of S. Oneida-st and W. College-ave, was probably the greatest in the history of the city. The fire occurred on Jan. 25 and 26, 1928, the twenty-fourth anniversary of the Ryan high school fire, and causing a total loss estimated at the time in excess of $250,000.

The Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton, WI 30 Apr 1932