Belgian Heritage Center Commemorates Great Fire of 1871

The Belgian Heritage Center will mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Fire of 1871 with three days of events. 

Fires that began Oct. 8, 1971, devastated the landscape on both sides of the bay of Green Bay – both Peshtigo and the surrounding area to the west, and a large part of the Belgian settlement area in Door, Brown and Kewaunee counties to the east. The Great Chicago Fire also began Oct. 8, 1871, and is probably better known.

Programs at the Belgian Heritage Center, 1255 Cty DK in Brussels, will begin Oct. 8 with a solemn remembrance vigil. 

On Oct. 9, a premiere screening of a video about the Great Fire will focus on how it affected the Belgian settlers, and Barb (Englebert) Chisholm will reenact the survival story of her great-grandmother, Emmerence (Gaspard) Englebert. 

Also on Saturday, David Siegel, a captain with the Green Bay Metro Fire Department, will present “Understanding the Realities of the Great Fires of 1871,” and author Virginia Feld Johnson will discuss her new book, When the Night Rained Fire: October 8, 1871, Kewaunee County and the Great Fire. The Brussels-Union-Gardner Fire Department will have fire trucks available for tours.

On Oct. 10, the reenactment will be repeated, along with additional screenings of the video.

See a full event schedule and more details at