Old News – East Rochester Fire, 1914

More news from the past.


Thursday, March 26, 1914


Eyer Building Containing Fryattt Department Store and Other Firms a Total Loss — To Be Rebuilt Immediately

East Rochester, March 24,—Fire causing a loss of nearly $200,000, occurred in this village, Tuesday  night.

eyer-fire-1914-aThe crew of an R. S. & E. freight car which was passing through the village about 11 o’clock, discovered fire in the basement of the Eyer block on Main street and extending from Elm to Commercial streets. The motorman sounded an alarm by blowing the whistle the length of the village.

Mrs. Alice Creighton, night operator of the Bell telephone exchange, heard the alarm and immediately sent an alarm to the car shops, where the fire whistle was blown and the firemen were quickly on the scene. Mrs. Creighton also called up the proprietors of several business places situated in the block and was instrumental in arousing the night operator in the Home telephone office which was situated in the burning building.

Wm. Maisenheimer, the janitor of the block, who with his wife and mother occupied rooms on the second floor, barely escaped. they lost everything except the scanty clothing they wore.

The fire started in the basement under the gents’ furnishing department, and had gained such headway that in spite of the strenuous efforts of the firemen, the flames spread rapidly and one-half of the building was destroyed. The other half, which was built two years ago, was of fireproof construction with a double wall, which stood the test, between the old and new parts.

The flames darted rapidly up the elevator shaft, part of the third floor burning before the second. Realizing the magnitude of the fire, a call was sent to Rochester’ commissioner of public safety, Charles S, Owen, who sent Truck 17 with Lieutenant Kern in command, to the scene of the fire. Calls were also sent to Penfield, Pittsford and Fairport. Firemen from each town quickly responded and rendered valuable assistance. With the concentrated efforts of all companies, the fire was confined to the building in which it started. A strong west wind sent sparks and burning brands for a long distance, but the roofs of buildings being covered with ice and snow prevented in all probability the loss of many buildings in East Commercial street.

The loss sustained by Mr. Eyer, owner of the block, is estimated at $85,000. B. J. Fryatt occupied the lower floor with a department store, comprising a drug store, gents’ furnishing department, boot and shoe department, dry goods’ department, china and hardware, also an extensive grocery department including a bakery in the basement.

Parts of the second and third floors were filled with a large amount of furniture, none of the contents of which were saved. On the second floor were the offices of W. D. Hewes, insurance and real estate, Walter Parce and son, real estate, and H. L. Frank, dentist. The third floor was the I. O. O. F. Lodge rooms. The contents of all these were destroyed with the exception of the safes which appear to be in good condition although some of them have nor been opened at this writing. The safe belonging to the Odd Fellows was opened and contents found to be in perfect condition. Mr. Hewes’ loss is greater than the first estimable, as a metal filing cabinet which was supposed to be fireproof and contained many valuable papers when examined, was found to have all its records burned.

Fortunately no lives were lost.

About 3 o’clock a large portion of the front wall fell. Warning was given but several barely escaped before the walk was covered with the fallen mass of brick. The firemen suffered intensely from the cold and their clothing was frozen on them. Several were exhausted and overcome with smoke while a few were cut by flying glass.

eyer-fire-1914-bMr. Eyer greatly appreciates the heroic work of the local fir department as well as the out of town companies who so kindly came to their assistance. The fire companies under the command of Fire Chief Whittleton have been warmly praised for their work by those whose property they worked so hard to save; in fact, the only criticism came, as is usually the case from the ones who stood at a safe distance, with their hands in their pockets and told what the other fellow should have done.

Mr. Fryatt was at the building a few minutes after the alarm was sounded, and on attempting to enter his store, was badly cut on the wrist by falling glass, the wound requiring four stitches to close. But while suffering intense pain and submitting to the work of the surgeon, he was given directions to George Clark, the manager of the grocery department, to lease a vacant building and start for Rochester, to purchase new goods and he was supplying his customers with groceries the next afternoon. Courage and perseverance like this cannot help command success. Mr. Fryatt began work here on a small scale, with the beginning of the town and worked up to one of the finest and best equipped stores to be found in a small town any where. Mr. Fryatt has once before lost his stock of goods by fire.

He leased the building known as the Smith block and has a good stock of groceries, boots and shoes. Dry goods are constantly arriving. The building formerly occupied by the laundry, is being used by him as a drug store, and gents’ furnishing depart met. Harry Brady will soon be found on the third floor of the new part of the Eyer block with a line of furniture and an undertaking department. The bakery which was located under the side walk, was not wholly destroyed and work has been resumed there.

W. D. Hewes has rented room 5 and Yale Parce room 6 in the new part of the block.

Dr. H. L. Frank rented the rooms formerly occupied by H. Newcomb, and started at once for Buffalo, for a new equipment. Dr. Frank is a young man recently graduated from the Buffalo Dental College, and only a few months ago, opened an office here with all the modern appliances for a dental office, elegant office furniture, etc., all of which was lost.

The Home Telephone Company immediately secured rooms on the second floor of the Ramsden building on Commercial street, ordered a new switch board and supplies from Buffalo necessary to resume operations and were soon in working order.

Mr. Eyer was ill at the time of the fire, but says he will commence at once at the ruins with a fine new fireproof building.