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Damn the Old Tinderbox!: Milwaukee’s Palace of the West and the Fire that Defined an Era
In the dead of an unassuming January night in 1883, Milwaukee's Newhall House hotel was set on fire. Two hours later, the building--once among the tallest in the nation--lay in ruins and over seventy people were dead. It was a tragedy that brought global notice to Milwaukee, with daring escapes and rescues and heart-wrenching tales of victims burned to death or killed as t ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published March 18th 2019 by Wisconsin Historical Society Press
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This book recounts a deadly fire in the Newhall House Hotel in downtown Milwaukee in 1883. 70 people lost their lives as the fire burned the 6 story wooden structure to rubble. The fire was deliberately set. This gripping story recounts the fire itself, the building of this grand hotel, deemed "the palace of the west" at one time, the aftermath, the trial of the person responsible (the scapegoat), fire fighting and fire safety of the time (really bad) , and the lives of many of the people involv ...more
Excellent account of the disastrous conflagration that destroyed Newhall House, once Milwaukee’s most fashionable hotel, in 1883. Not exactly an unknown story, Matthew Prigge manages to recount it briskly, at times eloquently. His description of the fire itself, the individual acts of bravery and tragedy, is especially riveting. Well-written and highly recommended.
Matthew J. Prigge is a Milwaukee historian, author, and tour guide. He is presently In his fifth year as a tour guide with the Milwaukee Boat Line, leading daily sight-seeing tours of the city’s rivers and Lake Michigan. He is a former staff writer with UW-Milwaukee’s Encyclopedia of Milwaukee project. He is the host of What Made Milwaukee Famous, a weekly radio show on WMSE 91.7 Milwaukee, with a ...more