Ontario Beach Park – #8

I couldn’t find any new amusements at Ontario Beach for 1894. The biggest event would happen after the park closed for the season on Oct. 31st. A fire started about 9 p.m. in a small building attached to the Hotel Ontario pavilion. That building contained a ride called the Mystic Swing. A night watchman turned in an alarm and a fire company soon arrived and started a bucket brigade . By the time that the fire company arrived the fire had spread to the pavilion. It only took a half an hour before the pavilion fell to the ground. The pavilion had been built in 1885 and enclosed in 1892. Total loss, about $25,000. A witness said that he saw a man running away from the building so it was thought that he was a firebug.

Other buildings less than 60 feet away from the fire were saved because the wind was  blowing to the north. The bandstand  that sat between the pavilion and the lake was badly scorched.

Digging on the internet found that the Mystic Swing was a giant barrel that people would come into and sit on bench. The barrel would  rotate and it would make people think that they were rotating even thought they weren’t. That ride was owned by H. B. Rockfellow of Chicago.

In spring of 1895 it was decided that the Ontario Beach Improvement Company (AKA park management) would build a new larger auditorium. Before it was even completed part of it was destroyed. On June 4th a hurricane came up and most of the workmen were able to get away from the building shell. Two men working on the new pavilion fell from the third story and were hurt but not seriously. About 75 feet of the pavilion was leveled.

From Local History Division, Central Library of Rochester and Monroe County

Hotel Ontario and auditorium on left

The Rochester Union-Advertiser of April 6th says the auditorium will be 160 by 112 feet. The stage is on the eastern end and is 66 by 32 feet. The main floor would seat 700 persons and another 500 could be seated in the gallery.

Om July 4th the auditorium had concerts even though the roof was not yet finished. They employed the Empire Opera Company for the remainder of the season and they did operas such as “The Mikado” and “Billee Taylor.”

The other improvement made in 1895 was a cement walk 16 feet wide running from west end of Hotel Ontario to the Stutson pavilion. The Democrat & Chronicle said it was “intended for a promenade.” Seating was installed along the walkway.

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