Recently, I came across a box of metal type letters in the museum’s collection. A note on the box read: Type salvaged from the Advertiser fire of 1888. That made me think, “What was the Advertiser fire of 1888?”
|Box of newspaper type letters|
The Advertiser was first issued on November 3, 1853. At that time it was called the Fairman’s Daily Advertiser and served as a marketing vehicle for the printing business of Seymour and Charles Fairman. It was distributed free to farms along Water Street in Elmira. By 1855, the Elmira Daily Advertiser, as it was then named, was available by subscription for $1 a year.
|February 26, 1855 issue of the Elmira Advertiser|
|Hathaway House menu, 1874|
The fire quickly spread down the block. The building that housed the offices of the Sunday Tidings, the shop of a milliner named Mrs. Anderson, and several other offices caught fire. The flames continued to spread southward to F.A. Keeton’s retail grocery, which was one of the largest in the city, to Mr. Suess’ barber shop, and J.M. Robinson & Son’s furniture factory. D.A. Morgan’s liquor store and saloon, Kraum’s boarding house, Brown & Co. tobacco store, Dr. J.M. Hill’s drug store, and the law offices of E.P. Hart and Judge Thurston also caught fire. It is estimated that the blaze damaged or destroyed nearly $500,000 of property (over $10 million today).
|Owego Daily Record, February 16, 1888|
Advertiser building the morning after
Elmira reserve police were called in the night of the fire to stop looters.