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Carl Schurz Home

749 North Church St today

1855      The Schurz home was built

 

 

Carl Schurz, residence of, postcard.  Home was destroyed by 1912 fire

 

1856      SUBDIVIDED PROPERTY, scathing article about 

 

Uncertain dates

         

 

1908

09 25       SELL SCHURZ HOMESTEAD

Carl Schurz's old homestead will, on Oct. 17, be sold at sheriff's auction to satisfy a judgment.  The property, which is located in the Fifth ward, will go under the hammer at 2 p. m.  Sheriff William F. Miller of Dodge County will be the auctioneer.  It is believed that the home will be sold at a low figure.  It is urged here that the city purchase the homestead and preserve it as a memorial park to the great German-American.  WG

 

10 02       SCHURZ HOME PROPOSED AS MEMORIAL

A meeting was held at the public library last Friday evening by those interested in the purchasing of the old Schurz homestead in North Church Street and turning it into a memorial park.  The matter to desire ways and means was turned over to the following gentlemen:  Park Commissioners—H. Wertheimer, Edward J. Brandt, E. J. Seifert, S. Molzahn Committee –Mayor Arthur Mulberger, Ex-Mayor W. F. Voss, C. F. Viebahn, C. E. Straw, J. W. Wiggenhorn, O. R. Krueger, E. F. Wieman.   WG

 

10 09       BROENNIMANN SENDS $50 

E. G. Broennimann, formerly of Watertown, writes Mayor Mulberger as follows:

 

New York, October 2, 1908.

 

Mr. Arthur Mulberger, Mayor, Watertown, Wis.

 

My Dear Arthur:  I am in receipt of yours 30th ultimo, calling my attention to the plan of raising funds by popular subscription for the purchase of the old Carl Schurz homestead.  I certainly am in accord with this movement, and feel it must be successful if the matter is properly brought to the attention of Carl Schurz's many admirers.  With the high place he made for himself in our national history, and the eminent regard for his memory throughout the land, as evidenced by similar movements here in New York and elsewhere, I feel Watertown is especially fortunate and should be particularly proud of the opportunity of honoring this great man in the way proposed.

 

I shall be glad to cooperate with Mr. Merkel, as you suggest, to interest other New Yorkers, and in the meantime beg to enclose my personal contribution herewith—check for fifty ($50) dollars payable to your order. 

 

Wishing you success.

Sincerely yours,

E. G. Broennimann.       WG

 

10 16       MEMORIAL PARK PROPOSED FOR SITE OF HOMESTEAD AND ESTATE

 

Watertown Homecoming Club Proposes to Purchase Historic Grounds by Subscription

 

After more than half a century of neglect and decay, the historical Carl Schurz homestead and estate is to be converted into a public memorial park, through the instrumentality of a country-wide movement inaugurated yesterday by the Watertown Homecoming Club of Milwaukee.  Subscriptions will be asked for among the 1,100 members of the club scattered over the United States for the purchase of the estate from the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Company, who recently secured the property as a right of way on its northern extension from Watertown.

 

The traction company has signified a willingness to sell the estate at the original purchase price of $3,500 and to give the club an option of one year to close the deal, reserving only a narrow strip for the laying of rails.  That the movement will prove an instantaneous success is the opinion of Ernest A. Kehr, 105 Grand Aveune, president of the Watertown Homecoming Club of Milwaukee.  "It will take some time to reach all the members of the club," said Mr.Kehr, "but of the ultimate results there is not the slightest doubt.  In the Homecoming Club we have men in all lines of business who will undoubtedly make generous contributions.  One Milwaukee man yesterday offered to donate $100 before the movement was fairly under way.  "I feel that many Milwaukeeans not members of the club, but admirers of Carl Schurz, will help the project along in a financial way. It is not improbable that we will receive funds from Germans all over the United States."  The estate, of nearly eight acres, is said to be in bad condition and the quaint, old fashioned story and a half house rapidly falling to pieces.  The natural advantages of the place are such, however, that it is possible to convert it into a beautiful park.  The house will undoubtedly be restored to its original condition as built and occupied by Carl Schurz for two years in the early fifties.  The amount of money necessary to make contemplated improvements will be decided by a committee to be appointed at the next meeting.—[Milwaukee Sentinel article reprint]    WG

 

10 23       SCHURZ HOMESTEAD BOUGHT BY STREET CAR CO.

[this story appeared after the 10 16 story]

Clark M. Rosecrantz, attorney for the Milwaukee Heat, Light and Traction Company, bid in at sheriffs sale last Saturday the Schurz homestead, including seven acres of land, for $3,583.  The Begg's line will give the city an option on the property to continue for a year, reserving for its own use, however, a strip of the site for a right of way.  The city has no fund at present to buy the property, but will take the option.   WG

 

12 18       SCHURZ MEMORIAL

B. G. Heyn, treasurer of the Wisconsin Society in New York City, was in Watertown this week in the interest of the Carl Schurz memorial park.  On Wednesday he visited the old Carl Schurz homestead in North Church Street and in the afternoon held a conference at the public library with the local committee for the Schurz Memorial Park.   WG

 

1909

01 29       MONEY RAISED TO PURCHASE SCHURZ HOMESTEAD

Homecoming Club to purchase Schurz homestead and transform it into a public park

 

It is now practically settled that the Watertown Homecoming Club, with the Milwaukee branch as the principal movers in the enterprise, is to purchase the old Carl Schurz homestead in Watertown and transform it into a public park.  The purchase money has already been raised, and the prospects are that the deal will soon be closed.  The homestead is now the property of the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Company, which has offered to sell it at the price paid for the property by the company, to be used as a public park, which was $3,500.  The company, however, will reserve a strip upon which will be used as a right-of-way for its northern extension.

 

Ernest A. Kehr, who is president of the Milwaukee branch of the Watertown Homecoming Club, is authority for the statement that the money for the purchase of the property is available at this time, but he says the plans for the improvement of the grounds will involve an expenditure of $35,000.  It is proposed among other things to place a statue of Carl Schurz at the main entrance, and the making of an artificial lake.—[Milwaukee Daily News]      WG

 

08 20       SCHURZ HOMESTEAD AS NATIONAL PARK

The “Carl Schurz National Memorial” has become possible, says The Milwaukee Sentinel of Thursday.

 

The old homestead and its ten acres of ground in Watertown that formerly was the residence of the great soldier and statesman is to be purchased for $10,000 from the present owner, John I. Beggs, in the first part of September, and it will be maintained by the western association as a national park.

 

Ernest A. Kehr, chairman of the Milwaukee committee, was in New York last week and attended the banquet of the New York committee.

 

On this committee that has been raising funds in New York for the purchase of the Schurz homestead are Senator John C. Spooner and Edward Broennimann, among other Wisconsin men.  A meeting of the committee is to be held on September 1st, when it will be formally decided to purchase the homestead.

 

The western association, which comprises all the territory outside of New York, is raising an endowment fund of $40,000 which will be used to maintain the park.

 

“The homestead is in fairly good condition,” said Mr. Kehr, “but it will require the $10,000 raised by the New York committee to purchase the property and put the house into the condition we want it.

 

“The grounds are to be fitted out beautifully and all will be maintained as a national park.

 

“There is great interest all over the country in fitting up this old home as a perpetual, national memorial to a great man.”    WG

 

1912

The Milwaukee Sentinel

   12 13 1912

 

12 12

Carl Schurz Home Destroyed by Fire

 

Firemen handicapped by low water pressure

House was occupied by Thomas Donohue and family

 

At 9:45 o'clock last Wednesday night fire broke out in the old Carl Schurz homestead in the Fifth ward, occupied by Thomas Donohue and family, and owned by the Milwaukee Light, Heat and Traction Co.  The fire department responded promptly, but considerable delay was experienced in getting water onto the tire, the nearest hydrant being 1050 feet away and the building on fire was on one of the highest elevations in the city.  The building is a total loss and was partially covered by insurance.  The Donohue family saved most of their furniture, but lost most of their clothing, on which they carried some Insurance.  The weather was at zero and the firemen had a hard time fighting the fire.

 

The burning of the Schurz residence removes from our city one of its oldest landmarks and around which hangs much of historical interest, for it was built in 1856 [1855-56] by that noted statesman, the late Carl Schurz, and it was while residing there he held his first political office in this country, being elected alderman of the Fifth ward in 1857.  In the years to follow he was elected to the United States senate from several other states and was Secretary of the Interior in the late President Hayes' cabinet. 

 

The Donohue family is composed of the father and mother and eight small children, and not in very good circumstances.  Their burning out during this cold weather is indeed a sad thing.  At present the family is being cared for among the neighbors.

 

The fire was caused by an over-heated stovepipe passing from a lower room to the room above.   WG

                              Cross Reference:  news.google.com/newspapers

 

_________________________________________________________________________

 

Watertown Daily Times, 02 24 2001

 

Over the last couple of weeks we've used this column to acquaint our readers with Carl Schurz, one of Watertown's most famous persons, and also on the fact that he would be honored in April by the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame for his many conservation efforts he initiated during his long career in government.

 

We included in the column the comments on Schurz written by our longtime friend Bill Berry, former editor of the Stevens Point Journal and now an official with the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame. Well, Berry's comments included a sentence which said, "The Schurz home is an historic attraction in Watertown."

 

We had fully intended to "improve" on the sentence a bit but in the rush of things it was overlooked. The bottom line is that the Schurz home is no more.

 

The home was built by Schurz in the 1850s on a hill overlooking the Rock River. It was located off of North Church Street on the property of the current Karlshuegel Bed and Breakfast, 749 N. Church St.

 

The original home was an elaborate mansion with a great deal of fretwork around the porch roof which spanned the front and side of the house. It gave the home kind of a lacy look and made it quite distinctive.

 

Schurz used his home for many social gatherings and remained standing until 1912 when it was destroyed by fire. The property on which the home was located was bordered by an old spur line of the old Chicago and North Western tracks (now Union Pacific) which crossed Silver Creek skating pond and then traveled south nearly to Cady Street.

 

The hill on which Schurz built his home was known as Karlshuegel which was German for Carl's Hill. That's why the bed and breakfast, owned by Cy and Judy Quam, is known by that name.

 

TLS

SCHURZ HOME FIRE RECALLED

Watertown Daily Times, 12 28 1991

Plans by Cy and Judy Quam to turn the Sweeney home at 749 N. Church St. into a bed and breakfast lodging operation brought back memories of the history of that property for local history buffs.

 

That home is located on the property where Carl Schurz built his home back over a century ago. Schurz was one of the most distinguished of all Watertown 48ers. He came to a booming Watertown in 1853 and saw a grand future for the city.

 

He bought a farm of 89 acres on the northwest side of the city, now the site of the bed and breakfast. He built a huge German villa type house, complete with gingerbread trim.

 

His plans were to pay off the $8,500 mortgage by selling lots as the rapidly growing city expanded. Unfortunately, the depression of 1857 put an end to his hopes and it took him years to repay the debts.

 

It was back in 1912 that the home, at the time occupied by the Donahue family, burned to the ground.

 

Jerome Donahue, now 90 years old, visited the Times offices this week and said he was a youngster back in 1915 when it burned.

 

His recollections were that the fire started about midnight when he and his whole family were sleeping. No one was hurt in the fire, but the home was completely destroyed. He said the family members had only the clothes on their backs when they found shelter from nearby neighbors.

 

He said, "I can remember it was cold out, that we all had nightshirts on. That's what we wore in them days."

 

Jerome said he could remember the fire department had to pump water from a hydrant at the Fifth Ward Tavern, now Timmel's Tap. That was the closest one.

 

He said, "My dad's brother (Jim Donahue) was there that night. There was a stove in the living room and my mother started a fire so there would be heat in that room. That's where he slept."  In the house that night, in addition to Jerome and Jim were Jerome's brother Jim and his sisters, Constance, Loretta, Frances and Catherine.

 

The family rented the house, and Jerome believes they lived there about six years before the fire. The family received many donations from friends in the community and relocated to a home on North Washington Street, now the home of Bill and Abby Potter.

 

That close brush with a devastating fire was ironic in that he later made a career of fighting fires. He served as mechanic for the Watertown Fire Department for over 35 years before retiring.

 

The late Dr. Elmer C. Kiessling, retired professor at Northwestern College and author of Watertown Remembered, said in that book, "The Schurz, house was just being turned into a museum when it burnt to the ground one night in 1915. I stood on the charred ruins the next day and composed a sentimental elegy. As a member of the editorial staff, I managed to have it published in the Black and Red, the Northwestern College student magazine."

 

We enlisted the help of Professor Dave Gosdeck of the Northwestern College staff to check the college's archives for that elegy. He found it in the November 1916 issue and we are reprinting it here:

 

"Full sixty years, the sun o'er this small brow

Has ris'n and set, since first thou stoodest here

And gazedst on this city's young career.

Thou hadst a vision then of what is now,

For soon thy sturdy axe of shrub and bough

This chosen coign of vantage had made clear;

Thy home was built, - a landmark far and near,

Which naught save fire's might at last could bow.

Yet shall we grieve that nothing more remains

Than ruins, that e'en the site now stands apart

Where thou forsaws't the city's busiest lanes?

'This better thus. Some vulgar birth or mart

Had fast effaced the thoughts this spot retains

Of thee, thou deep and noble German Heart.

- E. C. K.

 

1968

02 08       HISTORICAL MARKER FOR CARL SCHURZ HOME

The State Historical Society has announced that a historical marker has been approved for the Carl Schurz home in Watertown.  The home is among five new official historical sites in Wisconsin approved for markers by the Wisconsin Historical Markers Commission.

 

The original Carl Schurz home is located at 749 North Church Street.  It is now owned and occupied by Mr. and Mrs. Leo M. Sweeney and family.

 

For years Watertown was the home of Gen. Carl Schurz, noted German-American patriot, educator and statesman.

 

The home in Watertown will become one of 180 sites approved by the commission for historical markers.  The commission is directed by law to stimulate interest in and knowledge of the state by marking sites of special historical, archeological, geological or legendary significance.

 

Mr. Schurz was born on March 2, 1829 at Liblar, near Bonn on the Rhine, the son of a schoolmaster under whose direction he was educated in his native village, in Cologne and at the University of Bonn.  As a youth he espoused the cause of democracy which swept Europe in 1848, taking an active part in the movement for a unified, Germany under a constitutional-government.

 

During the uprising in 1849, he served as military aide to Col. Fritz Anneke, but the campaign proved a failure, and he made a remarkable escape to France.  In 1850 he returned incognito to Germany and rescued Prof. Gottfried Kinkel from the military prison at Spandau, a sensational achievement.  Discouraged by the seeming failure of the liberal cause m Europe, emphasized by the downfall of the recently created French Republic, and not foreseeing the realization of his youthful dreams in the unification (in 1871) of Germany under a constitution patterned after that of the United States, after two years in exile abroad, Schurz turned to this country.

 

Wed Margarethe Meyer

 

Accordingly, shortly after his marriage in London to Margaretha Meyer, a cultured German young woman, the young couple sailed for America, arriving in New York, Sept. 17, 1852.

 

After a residence in Philadelphia where he studied the American language and government, he visited the principal western cities in 1854, locating in Watertown, where he had relatives.  In 1855, he returned to Europe with his wife on account of her health, but they were back in Watertown in May, 1856. Although his countrymen were mainly Democrats, he espoused the anti-slavery cause, joined the new Republican Party and made effective speeches in German in behalf of their presidential candidate.  He was a member of the Watertown city council from the old Fifth ward.

 

In 1857 the Republicans nominated him for lieutenant governor, but due to a land grants scandal the election was close, and Schurz was defeated by 107 votes, while Randall, the Republican candidate for governor, won by a few hundred.

 

First Kindergarten

 

Mrs. Schurz, a pupil of Froebel, conducted the first kindergarten in the United States at Watertown.  In 1858 Schurz made many speeches for the Republicans in Illinois where Lincoln was pitted against Douglas for the United States senate.  He spoke both in English and German, his great speech on “The Irrepressible Conflict” made in Chicago was published in full by the leading Republican papers in the country, and a million copies were separately circulated throughout the North.

 

Admitted to the bar in 1859 he practiced his profession to some extent in Milwaukee, but he was in such demand as a lecturer, especially in the east, that his earnings in that field provided the larger of his income.

 

In 1860 he was elected a regent of the University of Wisconsin and chairman of the delegation to the Republican National Convention in Chicago, which nominated Lincoln for president.  He was a member of the committee which notified Lincoln of his nomination.

 

Other highlights in his career included his appointment by President Lincoln as minister to Spain, his appointment later as brigadier general, his promotion to the rank of major general. He was later editor of the Detroit Post and during a visit to Germany was invited by Otto von Bismarck to pay him a visit which he did.

 

Mr. Schurz also was the author of many books and pamphlets, among which was his “Life of Henry Clay” which enjoyed a large sale.  He also served as editor in chief of the New York Post.  In 1905 he received from the University of Wisconsin .the degree doctor of literature.  He died at New York on May 14, 1906, and is ranked as one of the commanding figures in political and educational life of America.

 

1983

06 27       PLAN TO TURN PALATIAL HOME INTO SUPPER CLUB

Plans to turn a palatial home on a historic site in Watertown into a supper club with fine food, dancing and room for large banquets came a step closer to reality.  The Watertown Planning Commission voted to recommend a zoning change for 749 North Church Street, also known as Carl's Huegel.  Bernetta Coughlin, former owner of the Sharp Corner Inn and owner of Coughlin's Coffee Shop, plans to buy the 1,800-square-foot home on 7 1/2 acres between Church Street and the Rock River and turn it into a supper club.   WDT

 

2006

06 13       SITE DESIGNATED FOR DUPLEX DEVELOPMENT

Plan commission members also granted a conditional use permit to Mike Martin for a group development at 741 and 749 N. Church St.  Martin is proposing to construct 16 duplexes on the site, with each unit in every building ranging from 1,600 to 2,000 square feet.   WDT

 

 

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Cross Reference:

First Kindergarten 

 

 

 

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