Appleton, WI Waverly Hotel Fire, Sept 1897

Waverly Hotel, Appleton, WI before the fire

Waverly Hotel Fire Was Highlight In City's History In Late Nineties

A generation has grown to manhood and hundreds of people have come to Appleton to make their homes who do not know of the fire which destroyed the old Waverly house, one of the early hotels in this locality. The Elk clubhouse is built on the hotel site. The structure was discovered to be on fire about 3 o'clock on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 18, 1897. The resultant loss was estimated at $20,000 to the B. T. Roger's estate of which Dr. Rush Winslow was administrator. Ther was $16,000 insurance on the building and $1,500 on the furniture, linens and silver, the latter belonging to W. B. Pearl.

The hotel was in the process of repair prior to being taken over by a new management when it was destroyed. More than $3,000 had been spent in putting the building in shape for a first class hotel and W. B. Pearl, the new manager, was making preparations to close his resort at Devil's lake on Sept. 20 and come to Appleton to open the Waverly house about Oct. 15. He had ordered new furniture, which was to have arrived in Appleton the next week.


On the night of the fire, Patrolman Dennis Carroll made his rounds at 1 o'clock as usual and there was no sign of fire or smoke at that time. About 3 o'clock a hackman coming from the depot saw that the roof was on fire and the fire burned steadily downward until all except the kitchen had been destroyed. The firemen worked faithfully and were assisted materially by a new fire hydrant that had been installed at the corner just a week before. Flying sparks caused the owners of nearby property much agitation during the fire, but there was no damage done to adjacent buildings.

The McNeill house, one of Appleton's first hotels, stood on the site of the Waverly house, having been built in the early sixties. It later was moved and became part of the Briggs house building. Part of the destroyed building was erected in 1870 and 1971 and it was added to in 1872 and 1873. Turner and Foster were its first preprietors and it is sad that the building cost $57,000 having been erected when prices were high. Capt. Turner and Major Morgan then managed the hotel and in 1874 Major Morgan sold his interests to Capt. Turner. In 1877, the hotel was taken over by R. T. Rogers, who managed it until W. H. Cottrill became manager in 1878. It was after Mr. Cottrill's death that the hotel was closed and finally remodeled for the new management.


Tools belonging to Nichols and Ryan who were doing the plumbing in the hotel and to W. S. Patterson and Co. who were installing the heating plant were destroyed in the fire. It was announced by Dr. Winslow that the Rogers estate would not rebuild the structure. Although the origin of the fire is somewhat of a mystery, it is thought that spontaneous combustion in a closet under the stairs on the third floor was the cause of the blaze. The corner remained empty for many years until the land was purchased by the Elks for the clubhouse which now stands on the former hotel site.

Appleton, WI 26 Mar 1924