Oakton Hotel Fire - Pewaukee

Source: The Milwaukee Journal, Monday, March 06, 1899; pg. 6; col C

Oakton Hotel a Heap of Ashes Famous Old Summer Resort at Pewaukee Burned to the Ground

Pewaukee, Wis., March 6-The famous Oakton Springs hotel was destroyed by fire at 4 o'clock this morning.  The fire originating at the east end of the hotel in the laundry building.

The wind was brisk from the west and this fact alone saved the entire business portion of the village from destruction.  As it was, the fire fought its way with startling rapidity against the wind and soon the entire hotel was a mass of flames.

Gustav Marzinke, a shoemaker, with his wife and two children, have occupied a section of the second floor in the east wing of the main hotel.  They have a narrow escape, barely getting away before the third and fourth floors fell in.  They owe their escape to the timely warning given by H.C. Hanson (also reported at Harrison), the night operator at the St. Paul depot, who with his assistant, Dwyght Haskins, first discovered the fire and gave the alarm.

The village citizens soon formed a bucket brigade and protected Culver's general merchandise store.  Jones' meat market, residence and other buildings, Alton Bros., dry goods and groceries' Joseph Rombough, general merchandise, on Oakton avenue, and the drug store, Christofferson buildings, and Savoy's hotel on Main street.

On Oakton avenue, east of the hotel, the buildings were subjected to a heavy shower of sparks for at least an hour, and at one time it seemed that the Jones House must go but the bucket brigade struck to their work and the building escaped.

The Oakton Springs hotel was built about thirty years ago by I.G. Igelhart, who advertised it extensively throughout the south and for a number of years Pewaukee enjoyed the reputation of being one of the foremost summer resorts for the wealthy southern families.  After Igelhart died the place lost its earnest backer and began to decline in popularity.  The past six years the building stood empty until the Marzinke family moved in.  At one time the property was valued at $60,000, but last month Savoy & son bought it for about $5,000.  Last week a force of workmen began to tear down the building and had torn out the interior of the fourth story.  There were 110 rooms in the hotel.  The building was partly covered by insurance.  

The Milwaukee Sentinel, Tuesday, March 07, 1899; pg. 10; col A

Flames Destroy Hotel Old Oakton Springs House at Pewaukee

Pewaukee, Wis., March 6-The burning of the Oakton Springs hotel early this morning was the most serious fire in Pewaukee since the destruction of the Hotel Lakeside five years ago.

The fire originated in the laundry building at the east of the main building.  From this point it spread against the west wind to the main section.

Gustav Marzinke, a shoemaker, with his wife and two children, were the only occupants of the building, and they owe their escape to the timely warning given by Night Operator Harrison, who first discovered the fire from the station, and knowing that Marzinke and his family were in the building broke in the doors and succeeded in dragging the four into the street just before the roof and third floor fell in.

Haskins, a student at the station, also gave valuable aid in arousing the neighborhood.  One hundred men collected and fought the fire.

At one time it seemed impossible to prevent the spread of the flames to the business portion of the village, but the impromptu fire brigade stuck to their posts and threw water on the roofs, which, with the thermometer at 5 degrees below, formed a coating of ice, and to this fact the village owes its existence to-night.

The Oakton Springs hotel was built over thirty-three years ago, and was sold to I.G. Igelhart, who improved the property considerably, it costing him over $40,000.  Igelhart advertised extensively throughout the South, and for several years Pewaukee was one of the foremost watering places in Wisconsin.  After Mr. Igelhart;s death the property declined, and about six years ago it was abandoned altogether till Marzinke and family moved in three years ago.  The property has been held for sale by a Chicago brewery, who recently sold it to F.X. Savoy & SOn for $5,000.  The Savoys had been at work tearing down the building and were expecting to build a new hotel on its site.

The property was insured for a small amount.

Col. Iglehart, who invested his money in the Oakton, was prompted to do so by the fame of Waukesha as a resort, and when he began operations at Pewaukee it was as a rival of Col. Dunbar at this place.  Mineral Springs at various points about the lake were developed and the waters were extensively advertised as equal or superior to those of Bethesda, and tourists were solicited to patronize the Oakton hotel on the ground of its being much more desirable than those of Waukesha.  Under the pressure of the colonel's energy and advertising, Pewaukee became for a few years a close second in this county in the race for patronage, but the pace that was set could not be maintained.  The Iglehart riches vanished and his projects went to decay, as did the spring pavilions and hotel.

The property now owned by Louis Auer near the head of Pewaukee lake formed a part of Col. Iglehart's possessions and it was the latter who made the original improvements, of the spring near the lake shore.  he also erected a cottage on the premises.