Marley Block Fire Started 38 Years Ago Today: 
Low Water Pressure prevailed


Source:  Contributed from the personal collection of James F. Morrison;
 Newspaper article from The Leader-Republican. , April 14, 1949, page 8.  No author listed.

Thirty-eight years ago this morning, the last frame business on North Main Street went up in smoke.  The building represented the last vestige of the early days on the main thoroughfare of Stump City; which became part of Gloversville.

The old landmark had been known as the J. C. Marley block and had been sold to John R. Willard of Northville, on Feb. 7, 1914, and later became the property of the City National Bank.

Willard purchased the property through Atty. E. K. Cassedy, acting for the estate of John C. Marley and the consideration while not stated definitely, was in the neighborhood of $20,000.

Bank Had Planned to Build

On Feb. 28, the City National Bank, formerly known as the Manufacturers' & Merchants' Bank, purchased the building from Willard as the first step toward the construction of a new building for the bank.

At the time of the sale that building was occupied by the boot and shoe-shining parlors, the New York Tailoring establishment, McIntyre's Jewelry Store, and Murphy's Cigar and News Store.  The second floor of the building had not been occupied for a number of years.

The lot was very nearly triangular in shape and at the time of the sale to the bank it was pointed out that a very substantial and modern bank building could be erected on the plot.

About 3 a.m. on St. Patrick's Day smoke was seen pouring from the old Marley block and a few minutes after an alarm had been sounded from the box at the "Busy Corner," flames burst from the front of the south store of the building occupied by the shoe-shining establishment.  A moment later the awnings along the entire front of the building as well as the one in front of the adjoining Coal Company of Fulton County were burning briskly.

2 Houses Burned on Division

While the fire in the Marley building was at its height another fire was reported on Division Street and an alarm was sounded from the box at Steele Avenue and Division Street.  At that time the equipment from Station 3 in the North End of the city had not arrived downtown and since it was impossible to contact it no immediate answer could be made to the Division Street fire.

About five minutes later a second alarm was turned in and by this time flames from the fire on the Bloomingdale Hill could be plainly seen from the center of the city.

When firemen finally reached the scene it was found that the house at 109 Division Street had been practically burned to the ground while the adjoining dwelling at 109 was burning in several places.  On the other side, the house of 111 had caught, but the work of the firemen prevented a spread of the flames there.

While the greater number of firemen had gone to Division Street, believing that the fire in the Marley block was under control, the first fire gained headway, spreading through the entire upper portion of the building, and at 5 the fire was raging to such an extent destruction of the old landmark was in evitable.

On Division Street the firemen were greatly handicapped by low water pressure.  The house at 109 Division Street, occupied by Lazarus Rubin, also a tailor, was destroyed.

"Birth of Nation" Posters

All the property owners affected by the fire, with the exception of Duncan McIntyre, the jeweler in the Marley Block, were fully insured.  McIntyre's loss was about $1,200 of which half was covered by insurance.  The Marley building itself was insured for $5,000.  The loss on the Frank Couloumbis shoe shining parlor was estimated at $600 and that in the tailor shop of Joseph Morein at $500.

On the second floor of the Marley building were three posters advertising the movie "Birth of the Nation" shown at the family Theater on March 6.  Prices to D. W. Griffith's production were nights orchestra $1, $1.50 and $2 --balcony 50c.  Matinees -- orchestra 50c, 75c, and $1 --balcony 50c.

In the picture showing a section of North Main Street including the Marley Block prior to the fire one can see the horse and wagons.  The picture which was taken around 1890 or 1900 reveals the I. N. Yates clothing and hat store at 10 North Main Street where the Coal Company of Fulton County was located until recently.

Next to the Marley store was the C. B. Bogart, boot and shoe dealer, while the confectionary and fruit store of J. P. Rice is the next business in the Marley Block.  Next in line was the Albert Young household goods store.

YMCA on Second Floor

One can see the YMCA sign located on the second floor of a building to the left while just beyond is a sign for Kensington Art Rooms.  Further to the left is the marque of what was once known as the Kasson Opera House and later the Family Theater.  Beyond can be seen the City Hall while just past the City Hall is a group of trees.  at the time the larger photograph was taken, there was a house between the existing city Hall and the end of Kasson Block.  That structure was razed to make room for the present Glove Theater structure.

Located by one of the wagons on the sidewalk is a water pump.  Note the telephone poles and lack of street lights.  Then, as now, there were n trolley tracks, but unlike now, parking no problem.

According to a business directory published in 1890 the insurance and real estate office of W. N. Stewart was located at 10 North Main Street where Atty. Jerome Eggleston had his office.  John E. Yeo, a tailor, is also listed as having a place at 10 north Main Street.

Marcus L. Gifford, harness manufacturer, is listed as having a place of business at 20 North Main Street in 1890 where E. Hauserman, another tailor, also had a shop.  Scott S. Rose ran a meat market at 22 North Main Street while Miss H. A. Thompson had a Dry and Fancy Goods store at 24 North Main Street.  The Piano, Organ and Music store of Edward F. Tietz was also listed in the 1890 directory as being located at 24 North Main Street.


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