History Sandwiched In: "Damn the Old Tinderbox"

  • 30 N. Carroll St.
  • Madison
  • Madison, WI 53703
  • Phone: (608) 264-6555

Author and historian Matthew J. Prigge will host a free lecture from 12:15 p.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the Wisconsin Historical Museum on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019. The event is part of the museum's "History Sandwiched In" lunch-and-lecture series.

Prigge will discuss his latest book, "Damn the Old Tinderbox!: Milwaukee’s Palace of the West and the Fire that Defined an Era," which tells the gripping tale of the 1883 Newhall House hotel fire that remains among the deadliest unsolved arsons in American history, and a significant chapter in both the history of Milwaukee and the Midwest.

In the dead of an unassuming January night, the 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 they jumped from the burning building. From the great horror emerged an even greater string of mysteries: Who had set the fire and who was to blame for the staggering loss of life? The Newhall's hard-luck barkeeper? A gentleman arsonist? What of the many other unexplained fires at the hotel? Had the Newhall's management neglected fire safety to boost their profits?

  • Times: 12:15 PM to 1:00 PM
  • Admission: Suggested donation of $3/person