On a frightfully cold night — maybe not unlike evenings this week — Ripon’s best-known tragedy played out.

   Feb. 1, 1949, at 1:40 a.m., cries rang out at the Grand View Hotel — a hotel once thought of as among the finest in the state of Wisconsin.

   But this would be its last.

   The sentinel at the north end of Watson Street was burning.

   While those cries enabled most to escape the blaze — with some running through the flames to safety — six perished that night.

   Seventy years later, it’s a tale that still captures the attention of Riponites.

   Those memories will be rekindled Saturday at 1 p.m., when the Ripon Historical Society holds a program focused on the Grand View fire. (This is a postponement of the original time for the event.) A video about the fire will be shown, and audio interviews will be played from people alive at the time of the fire.

   Tracy O’Brien of the historical society noted that it’s important to remind people of this key moment in Ripon history.

   “There are a lot of people in town that don’t even realize there was a hotel fire,” he said. “The Grand View was such a large part of Ripon. They said it was one of the finest in the state. I feel that, with us tearing down old buildings, the history of those buildings [is getting lost].”

Read the full story, see more photos from 1949 and read quotes from those who witnessed the fire in the Jan. 31, 2019 edition of the Ripon Commonwealth Press.