Geneva’s Fire of 1953

Posted in: Announcements

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. 

4 Comments for : Geneva’s Fire of 1953
    • Tom Peterson
    • February 7, 2017

    I was 10 years old at the time. My dad took me to see the fire and I remember how big it was.

  1. Reply

    Always wondered why that block was filled with so many post-war commercial buildings. Now it makes sense.

  2. I’ll never forget the site & watching the buildings as they burned leaving a pile of smoldering ashes.

    • Bernie Wilhelmsen
    • January 5, 2018

    I watch the fire from the Blue Room tavern across the street, which is now the Thai restaurant. My father, Ben, worked at the tavern.

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