On February 1, 1953, flames engulfed nearly an entire block of buildings on the south side of State Street between First and Second Streets in Geneva. Starting in the Lance Classic Barber Shop at 122 West State Street, the fire then travelled next door to Rosenfelder’s Ace Hardware Store containing a variety of flammables causing multiple explosions. As soon as the siren blew, telephone operators immediately began calling firemen at their homes. Bill Rosenfelder was among the volunteer firemen battling the blaze that completely destroyed his family’s hardware store at 124 West State Street. Fire units from seven towns struggled for six hours to squelch the fire in ten degrees above zero weather, while the water froze under their feet. By the early morning hours, the First National Bank building, Averill Electric Shop, Rosenfelder’s Ace Hardware Store, the Lance Classic Barber Shop and a frame house, as well as apartments above the stores were all involved.
Other disasters that have caused ruinous damage in the city will be featured during a Geneva History Museum Brown Bag program on March 14, 2017 at noon.