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< Gouverneur Stories — Gouverneur Fire Department by Charles Halpin

Please contact Charles Halpin, 315-287-1197 if you have additional information to be added to this history, or if you notice any corrections that should be made.

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February 13, 1913 - Levy Brothers Store at 67 East Main Street heavily damaged.

1825 - Grist mill and flour mill on West side of bridge burns.

January 1, 1839 - Old Academy school later known as the Wesleyan Seminary on the site of the present Community Bank completely destroyed. 


April 18, 1848 - The brick hotel known as the VanBuren House located at the comer of Main and Wall Street mostly destroyed. The brick structure was rebuilt as a private home. In 1924 this building became known as the Red Brick Tavern and in 1954 was demolished by Seaker & Graves for use as a parking lot. 


1853 - Wagon shops, woodworking plant and saw mill at West end of Main Street bridge. The wooden bridge was damaged but was saved from destruction by "a bucket brigade". 


1854 - The saw and flouring mills near the bridge with part of the bridge again being destroyed. 


1859 - The first Fire Company was organized in this year and was known as "The Gouverneur Fire Bucket Brigade". 


December 22, 1865 - The Barnes block, a three story tenement building on Clinton Street, was wholly consumed. The loss was over $3000.00. 


December 1868 - The first Fire Department known as "Gouverneur Hose Company No. 1" was organized. November 22, 1877 this Company voted to disband. On January 29, 1878 the Fire Company was reorganized again under the name "Gouverneur Hose Company No.1" and chartered by The State of New York and has remained in continuous service to this day. 


January 15, 1875 - Gouverneur experienced its most disastrous fire since the village was settled when five stores, two dwellings, a church, hotel and meat market burned from the comer on Main and Park Streets to the site of the old Gralyn Theater. Damage estimated at $60,000.00. 

March 1, 1877 - Seven stores all wood structures on Main street from the comer of Clinton Street to present day Kinney's offices. Damage estimated at $64,000.00. 

October 7, 1877 - The first Union Hall, a furniture warehouse and marble stone cutting shop on Church Street heavily damaged. This fire started in the Hose house of the original Gouverneur Hose Co. No. 1 and was the last fire fought by the original Hose Co. ( Refer to December 1868 )

October 1, 1880 - Workshops of S.B. Van Duzee & Co. on the west side of Main Street. This was the first use of the Lafrance Steam Pumper at a major fire. Much of the surrounding property was saved and it was remarked that the Steam Pumper more than earned its cost upon this occasion. Estimated damage was limited to $1500.00. Cost of the new steam pumper was $3000.00 including the horses.

April 18, 1881 - VanBuren House and Whitney Drug Store at 51 East Main Street. The hotel was entirely consumed, although most of the furniture was saved. It was reported the flames spread so rapidly that at one point it was thought that a large portion of the village would burn. Damage estimated at $14,000.00.

August 5, 1882 - VanDuzee Furniture Shop and Corbin Stove and Wheel Harrow Plant on east end of Main Street bridge. Damage estimated at $40,000.00.

May 5, 1884 - Boiler explosion at the Whitney Company Marble Works south of Gouverneur kills six men. Fire Department responds but minor damage to structure. 

October 22, 1883 - The Potter Dry Goods store at 67 East Main Street. Damage estimated at $15,000.00.

July 16, 1884 - Burtis and Reynolds stores next to what is now Remington Furniture Store. Damage estimated at $4000.00. 

January 23,1885 - Merritt Blacksmith Shop on Clinton Street. Damage estimated at $1000.00. 

July 9,1887 - Steam saw mill of Starbuck and McCarty on Hailsboro Street near the river totally destroyed. Damage estimated at $30,000.00. 

July 23, 1887 - Gardner and Turnbull Carriage and Paint Shop and a house on West Main completely destroyed. Damage estimated at $5000.00. 

November 23, 1889 - The Spencer Hotel at the comer of Depot and East Main Streets along with the wooden additions and barns all burned. Damage estimated at $5000.00. 

January 11, 1891 - The William Blair House near the south side of the covered bridge. Blaze was extinguished with minor damage to the bridge. Damage was set at $400.00. 

January 8, 1893 - The three story brick hotel, the second VanBuren House at 41-45 East Main Street, with the stores under the hotel rooms belonging to Issac Black, Max Tumpowsky and James Ormiston, town clerk. All town records to this date were lost. After this second fire the brick hotel was rebuilt completely as the St. Lawrence Inn. 

March 5, 1894 - The Stone Talc Mill located on the outer end of Parker Street.

December 19, 1903 - The roundhouse at the New York Central Station burned to the ground. Two engines in the roundhouse were considerably damaged by the fire. No estimate of damage. 

March 28, 1904 - Burtis Block on East Main Street. Damage to stocks of goods and furnishings of the Brooks Saloon in the basement. Damage was set at $5000.00. 

July 23, 1904 - Gouverneur Marble Company Mill and several smaller buildings burned. Estimated loss set at $80,000.00. 

November 25, 1905 - The No.4 talc mill of the International Pulp Co. in Hailesboro was destroyed. The village of Hailesboro had no means of fighting the fire. Loss was set at $50,000.00. 

December 13, 1905 - The American Talc mill located at Sylvia Lake destroyed by a fire originated in the boiler house. Loss se at $65,000.00. 

In 1907 electric alarm boxes were installed in the village at 12 locations. 

October 31, 1909 - The Masonic Temple blackened by smoke and the basement ruined by fire. Loss set at $15,000.00. 

March 31, 1911 - Mead Drug Store on East Main Street burned. Damage estimated at $5000.00. 

May 13, 1911 - The Elliott Brothers Clothing Store located on Main and Park Streets. A fire caused much smoke but little damage as it was quickly extinguished. The damage estimate was set at several hundred dollars, mostly with smoke damaging goods in the store. 

December 8, 1912 - Northern New York Marble Company Mill located southeast of the present day Empire Livestock Sales burned in the fall of this year. Estimated loss set at $30,000.00. 

February 13, 1913 - Levy Brothers Store at 67 East Main Street heavily damaged.

November 25, 1916 - The Spooner-Campbell Garage at the present day site of the Municipal Building (originally the E.D. Barry building at 33 Clinton st. ) burned to the ground. The Spooner-Campbell Garage was rebuilt. In 1924 the village purchased the building for use as the Municipal Building and the Fire Department locates in the basement. 

December 30, 1917 - All buildings on Clinton Street from the present day Kinney's Store to the Municipal Building were destroyed. The buildings included the Fairyland Movie House, the R.K. Richardson Hotel, Homer and Clifford Plumbing Shop and the W.E. Lytle Sports Shop.

February 15, 1919 - The H.S. Whitney Garage on John Street destroyed. 

October, 1919 - The H.H. Nobel coal yard and the Gouverneur Freight Station were destroyed in what was probably the most costly fire to this date. Loss was estimated at more than $150,000.00. 

June 4, 1920 - The Aldrich Paper Company Mill at Natural Dam had severe fire damage estimated at $500,000.00. The mill was rebuilt in 1924. 

February 1921 - First motorized pumper put into service. American Lafrance 500 gpm pumper coasting $9000.00. 

July 21, 1921 - The VanDuzee Furniture Shop on the Main Street destroyed. This was the second time this structure had been destroyed. Estimated loss was $9000.00. 

February, 1922 - The Lieberman Bakery on Depot Street completely destroyed. 

July 17, 1922 - The second Union Hall building on Church Street. The William Gauthier Theater was in one section and the Edwin Leahy Hardware Store on the other. The International Talc Company Offices were on the second floor. 

May 5, 1924 - The Grammar School building on the present day site of the Community Bank damaged. Estimated damage was $60,000.00. 

July 1924 - Central Garage on East Main Street at the present day site of McDonald's. Several new cars were lost. Damage estimated at $45,000.00. 

October 27, 1929 - The Katzman Furniture Co. located on Clinton Street fire swept through the basement and main floor. Valuable stocks of furniture on the four floors of the building were badly damaged by smoke and water. Loss estimated at $45,000.00. 

February 3, 1929 - The Levinson, Cahill and Freeman stores on West Main Street between old Roma Restaurant to Hailesboro street. The Levinson and Freeman Stores were completely destroyed and the Cahill Grocery Store badly damaged. Damage estimated at $40,000.00. 

December 28, 1930 - The California Fruit Market at 23 East Main Street was damaged by fire. Estimated loss was $10,000.00. 

February 2, 1931 - St. Lawrence Utilities offices at 123 East Main Street. The interior was badly damaged. Tenants in the five apartments above the offices had to be assisted through the smoke by firemen. Temperature was reported to be -15 degrees. Estimated loss of $20,000.00. 

January 5, 1934 - South Side School on Depot Street. Total loss estimated at $10,000.00.

January 25, 1936 - Ruderman Clothing Store on corner of Church and John Streets. The interior of the store and stock damage set at $15,000.00. 

May 5, 1937 - The Rushmore Paper Mill at Natural Dam. It was estimated the mill was 80 destroyed along with heavy damage to the paper machine. Loss was over $400,000.00. 

September 4, 1937 - The only fatality of a Gouverneur firemen while on active department duty occurred on this date. Joseph I. Gardner while responding to an alarm was ejected from the side of a fire truck when it collided with a street light pole. He was rushed to the local hospital where he died from his injuries on September 5th. Interment was made in Riverside Cemetery with full Department honors on September 7th. It was written in the Department log "he made The Supreme Sacrifice in the performance of his duty, more no man can do." 

January 13, 1938 - The International Pulp Co.'s No.6 talc mill in Hailesboro heavily damaged. Loss set at $10,000.00 

September 26, 1939 - The Gouverneur Cooperative partially destroyed with a loss of $20,000.00 

October 7, 1939 - The wooden frame grandstand of the Gouverneur Agricultural and Mechanical Society at the fairgrounds completely destroyed. Loss was set at $15,000.00. 


January 18, 1940 - The Sunshine Auto Parts store at 39 East Main Street. Estimated loss to the building and stock set at $12,000.00. 

March 5, 1941 - Miles Auto Parts store on East Main Street located next to the old Bank of Gouverneur building. Estimated loss set at $15,000.00. 

January 4, 1945 - Loomis Talc Corp. warehouse burned. Estimated loss set at $18,000.00. 

December 1, 1945 - International Talc Company's No.6 mill burns. Estimate loss set at over $100,000.00. 

May 14, 1948 - International Tale Company's No.3 mill totally destroyed. Estimated loss set at over $400,000.00. 

April 19, 1950 - The Parkview Hotel and Restaurant at 118 East Main Street was destroyed. Estimated loss set at $80,000.00.

August 28, 1953 - The Balducci Crushed Stone plant on outer Parker Street extensively damaged. Estimated loss was $100,000.00. 

September 29, 1954 - The Ward Howard Insurance building at 19 East Main Street. Fire contained to the interior with extensive damage. Destroyed were Crumb's Shoe Store, Gerald's Dress Shop and beauty salon on the first floor and Rumble's Barbershop in the basement. No estimate available. 

December 21, 1957 - The Corbin House at 195 East Main Street was destroyed with a loss of $25,000.00. 

March 19, 1958 - The Gouverneur Cold Storage Co. on Depot Street extensively damaged. Loss of 780 tons of cheese and 30 tons of turkeys. No damage estimate available. 

May 20, 1958 - Prosser's Grill at 125 East Main Street next to old Gralyn Theater. The theater and Van Ornum's Furniture had smoke damage. Estimated loss set at $75,000.00. 

March 10, 1959 - The VFW at 100 West Main Street was destroyed with a loss of over $15,000.00. 

February 14, 1961 - Collin's Hardware and General store on West Main street and two apartments. Estimated loss $200,000.00. 

March 20, 1963 - The Department pumpers were called into service around 10 pm to provide water to the village due to a main water line break. Three pumpers at three locations on the river were run continuously for 54 hours pumping raw water directly into the village system. Firemen worked four hour shifts with two or three men manning each pumper. The firemen were praised for averting what could have been a disastrous situation. 

October 23, 1963 - Bike shop, liquor store, barber shop and washing machine repair shop on west side of Clinton Street extensively damaged. Estimated loss $15,000.00. 

January 10, 1968 - The W.T. Grant Co. store on East Main Street. Temperature reported at -25 degrees. Estimated loss to building and stock set at $300,000.00. 

September 30, 1968 - Canali's Hotel and Restaurant on West Main Street next to VFW destroyed. No estimate of damage available. 

1973 - Gouverneur Cooperative Association feed mill on Gordon Street extensively damaged with 400 tons of bulk feed. No estimate of damage. 

January 17, 1976 - The Baptist Church on Church Street. Estimated loss set at $62,000.00. Temperatures at the time of the fire were -21 degrees.

March 24, 1977 - The Savings and Loan Bank building on Church Street along with the radio station, law and real estate offices sustained heavy damage. Estimated loss set at $300,000.00. 

January 19, 1978 - A disastrous fire was averted when an alert janitor called in a fire set by an arsonist on the altar of the Catholic Church. Quick action by the Department kept damage to the carpet and some furnishings.

December 25, 1980 - The Pines Tavern, Rt. l l-north destroyed by fire. Temperatures at the time were near -25 degrees. No estimate of damage. 

June 19, 1983 - The home and office of Dr. Robert Saidel at the corner of East Main and Rock Island Streets received considerable damage to the rear section and a back apartment of the large house. Estimated was set at $80,000.00. 

November 10, 1991 - Train derailment behind Cargill Feed Plant off Prospect Street. There was no fire but considerable damage was done to the plant, the train and the tracks. The Department remained on the scene until railroad officials completed their investigation. No estimate of damage available. 

June 10, 1992 - Stores and business at 107 to 117 East Main Street. Lawyer offices, sign shop and bicycle shop received major damage. No estimate available 

March 20, 2003 - Farley Lumber Yard on Depot Street next to railroad tracks destroyed.

March 17, 2012 - Apartment building at corner of Clinton Street and Trinity Avenue. Extensive damage to the structure with four families left homeless. No estimate of damage.

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