Fire in Tomah causes damage to the Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center

By Ardith Van Riper

     A structure fire broke out just before 5:00 AM on November 29 in downtown Tomah, Wisconsin.  Two historic buildings located at 1110 and 1112 Superior Avenue were a total loss.  The Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center is located at 1108 Superior Avenue and is next door to where the blaze happened.

     The fire apparently began on the second floor of the Dimensions bar building, which contained two apartments. 

     A Tomah Police Department Facebook post by Lieutenant Eric Pedersen stated, “At this time, all residents are accounted for and okay.  One person was seen at Tomah Health Emergency Room and has been released.”

     Per a Facebook post by Fire Chief Tim Adler, “An estimated 600,000 gallons of water was used to extinguish the blaze.”

     The Ho-Chunk Museum and Cultural Center suffered smoke and water damage.  The Heritage Preservation staff stored the museum collection in the basement, and part of the collection was submerged in water.  The roof of the Museum sustained fire damage.

     The Ho-Chunk community around Tomah quickly pulled together; some worked to rescue materials, and some provided meals.  In a few hours, they moved the collection to the Tomah Youth and Learning Center to dry items, assess the damage, and plan the next steps.

     The Ho-Chunk Museum and Culture Center’s opening took place on January 24, 2020, with an art show featuring items by Clarence Boyce Monegar.  The Museum closed its doors to the public on March 18, 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.