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~ YATES COUNTY CHRONICLE ~ WEDNESDAY, MARCH 20, 1907 ~
The text below is presented in the original article's format
PENN YAN HAS $20,000 FIRE
Yates Lyceum, Penn Yan Democrat, E, A.
Dean's Studio Nearly Total Loss
"THE HOTTEST COON IN DIXIE" WAS PLAYING
Remarkable Order Maintained. Not a Person Injured. Fire
Gained Rapid Progress. Fire Fighters Did Splendid
Work. Cramer's Department Store Saved.
Penn Yan had a serious fire Monday evening. "The Hottest Coon in Dixie" was the attraction at the Yates Lyceum and the opera house was well filled with spectators. The performance was about to begin when someone called fire. The flames were issuing from a store room beneath the balcony entrance, which is a stairway leading from the main hallway. A few from the audience were able to get out by the usual exit but the
smoke and flames soon cut off escape through the hall and the fire exits were used. Strange as it may seem, nobody was injured so far as known, although there was a rush for the doors and the friends of those in the audience were greatly excited until they knew all were safe.
The theatre proved to be a regular tinder box, for the flames quickly spread beneath the floor of the auditorium and spread to the dressing rooms beneath the stage. The whole interior of the theatre was a roaring furnace in an incrediably (sic) short time. In fact, the flames spread so rapidly that members of the colored troop lost parts of their wardrobe, while those in the audience who had left their wraps in the cloak room could not get them out.
The fire department did valiant service. Six streams of water from the hydrants were soon playing on the building. Two lines of hose were placed through the main hallway leading to the opera house, two more back of the Main street stores and two through the lane leading to Corcoran's livery.
It was apparent from the start that the opera house was doomed and efforts were concentrated to prevent the flames spreading to surrounding buildings. The greatest danger was that the fire would work its way into the John B. Cramer Company's department store, through which the hall leads to the opera house. The firemen certainly did herioc (sic) work in stopping the progress of the fire at the dividing wall.
Clouds of mucky black smoke entered the offices of the Bell Telephone Company, driving the operators from their post, into the law offices of Thomas Carmody and Abraham Gridley, Phillips & Wrean's dental office and Dr. Harry Tuttle's private rooms. So much of this smoke came out on Main street that the general appearance was that these stores were on fire.
The flames worked their way into the quarters of the Penn Yan Democrat Printing Company and soon that was entirely ruined. The photographic studio of E. A. Dean, located above the entrance to the theatre, was gutted and nothing could be saved. The millinery department of Mrs. Laura Goldsmith, beneath Dean's gallery, was flooded with water. The flames did not work their way into this store, and it is fortunate they did not, for this would have been an entrance into the large 5 and 10 cent store of the John B. Cramer Company. The rear of this store was flooded and the stock room beneath suffered. As Mr. Cramer is in New York, it is impossible to learn what damage he sustained.
The A. and P. Tea Store's quarters were flooded but not until most of their goods were removed across the street to Shearman Brothers' old stand.
The contents of Corcoran Bros. livery barnes (sic) were damaged by water to the extent of $400. All their horses were removed to other quarters and their carriages and other equipages run on Main street.
It looked at one time as if the Main street stores were doomed and valuable papers were removed from the offices. The handsome furnishings of Odd Fellows hall were taken to
the Adam's Express office across the street.
The Penn Yan Opera House Company was incorporated in 1889, with a capital stock of $10,000 in 200 shares. This did not represent the total value of the company's real and personal property. The company's property, with its franchises, after the theatre was erected, was estimated to be worth $25,000. This sum was mainly contributed by public-spirited citizens of Penn Yan. The plans for the house were prepared by Leon H. Lempert, of Rochester. The builders were H. O. Dorman & Co., of Corning. The opera house had a seating capacity of 800. The work of construction commenced in 1889 and was completed in 1890. It was then christened "Sheppard Opera House", in honor of Morris F. Sheppard, later this name was changed to the Yates Lyceum. The original directors were Morris F. Sheppard, John H. Lown, Hanford Struble, Samuel S. Ellsworth, James MacKellar, Charles V. Bush, William T. Morris, T. S. Burns, Edward Kendall. Some few years ago the property was sold under partition sale and was bid in at $10,000, since which time Herbert Bell has acted as manager for George B. Lown, now of Chicago. It was considered one of the handsomest small play houses in the State.
Eight streams of water were playing on the fire. In addition to the six mentioned above another line went through the engine house and another did effective work from the top of Lown & Co.'s store.
A. A. Copeland, of the "Hottest Coon in Dixie" Company lost a diamond horseshoe pin containing twenty-three carat and half stones, valued at $850, and a diamond stud valued at $400.
The fire is believed to have originated in a mass of waste papers stored below the balcony stairway. A cigar stump or lighted match did the business.
The Democrat office occupied the Frank Smith house, one of the old land marks of the village.
About 330,000 gallons of water were used at Monday's fire, lowering the city reservoir twenty-eight inches.
Richard Craugh generously supplied the tired firemen with hot coffee and fried cakes.
New Hampshire, Goodspeed & Mil-
Hartfore, Goodspeed & Miller .. 750
Achen & Munich, Goodspeed & Mil-
ler .............................. 750
Liverpool, London & Globe, Good-
speed & Miller....................1,000
Norwich Union, N. S. Dailey.......1,000
Phoenix of Hartford, N. S. Dailey.1,000
Caledonian, O. M. Hobart..........1,000
PENN YAN DEMOCRAT.
National of Alleghany, George Sim-
Westchester, O. M. Hobart.........1,000
Hartford, Goodspeed & Miller......1,000
Equitable, Goodspeed & Miller.......500
Home, Goodspeed & Miller............500
Home Fire Association, N.S. Dailey.$400
John E. Watkins, N. S. Dailey.......400
O. M. Hobart.......................$500
MRS. LAURA GOLDSMITH.
Western of Pittsburg, Goodspeed &
Corcoran Bros., estimated......$ 400
Penn Yan Democrat, estimated......8,000
E. A. Dean, estimated.............2,000
Opera House and fixtures, est....12,500
Laura Goldsmith, estimated........1,500
A. & P. Tea Store, estimated.........10
Alice Northrop, estimate............300
Frank Maring, estimated.............500
Thanks to Jan Thorn for help with the typing!