Piece of Mazeppa's history goes up in flames, residents react - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Piece of Mazeppa's history goes up in flames, residents react

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WD's Bar and Grill burned down early Sunday morning WD's Bar and Grill burned down early Sunday morning
KTTC's Shannon Rousseau speaking with long-time customers outside the bar KTTC's Shannon Rousseau speaking with long-time customers outside the bar
Donny Blank talking about the memories made inside WD's Donny Blank talking about the memories made inside WD's
Onlookers look at the rubble left from the fire Onlookers look at the rubble left from the fire
MAZEPPA, Minn. (KTTC) -

A popular bar in downtown Mazeppa burned to the ground after a fire started early Sunday morning. 

But 32 hours later, shock turned to grief, as frequent customers to WD's Bar and Grill realized their favorite spot in town was no more.

"Nothing, nothing can ever replace this place," said Sam Umbaugh, a frequent customer to the popular downtown bar. "It was a great place to go. I'm a wonky character, and I came here, let loose, and nobody judged me for it."

Umbaugh said she went through different stages of sadness, denial, and anger over the sudden loss of WD's. She stood outside the bar, now nothing but a pile of bricks and charred wood, for two hours Monday morning. Other patrons stopped by and chatted with her, sharing memories made back in happier times.

"To most people, it's just a building. But to the community of Mazeppa, it's not just a building; it's an icon. It's historic... it's really going to be missed."

WD's was a historic place. The building it occupied was built back in the 1860s during the Civil War. Then, the exterior was covered in paneling and was known as the Fowler House. Old photographs from back then show horse-drawn carriages parked out front with a crowd of people surrounding them. 

Forty years later, in the 1900s, the paneling was taken down and moved to another part of town. Instead, bricks were added to the exterior and would stay there for the next 118 years.

As the years passed and different owners came and went, the hotel turned into Mary's in Mazeppa, and from there it became WD's.

The building may be an inanimate object, but to the present-day townspeople of Mazeppa it was like a friend. "So many memories, and this building's been here forever in this town. It's going to be tough, you know, coming to town and not being there," said Donny Blank, a customer at WD's for the last 40 years.

The fire marshal has not given an official word as to what caused the fire or how much damage was done.

 As for if Jason, the owner of WD's, will choose to rebuild, that's a decision that will take some time to make. "He put his heart and soul into this place," said Umbaugh. "I can't say they'll rebuild. I don't know. If he did it wouldn't be the same, but the memories from the previous place would still be there."

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