Tuesday, September 24, 2013

1896 Fire Destroys Courthouse in Binghamton, N.Y.

Old and New Courthouses (left click to enlarge).
Cortland Evening Standard, Tuesday, December 29, 1896.


County Courthouse Burned—Several Law Libraries Saved.

   Binghamton had a great fire last night and Broome county suffered a severe loss in the total destruction of the county courthouse. The fire was discovered at about 10:20 in the evening in the roof and is supposed to have originated from a defective flue. It was all burned down before 2 o'clock. The building was insured for $50,000, but the loss will be much greater.

   The courthouse was erected in 1857 at a cost of $32,000. It has several times been added to, the last time seven years ago at an expense of $20,000. It was situated upon an eminence in an open square in the center of the city and was a very handsome building. It had a frontage of 166 feet and a depth of fifty-eight feet. Its entrance was through a Grecian portico of four Ionic pillars, six feet in diameter and thirty-six feet high.

   The building contained the supreme court library of the Sixth judicial district containing 15,000 volumes and insured for $10,000, which was all saved, though many books were damaged by smoke and water. It also contained the private library of Judge Martin with 2,000 volumes, valued at $6,000, the private library of Judge Arms and of Judge Lyon, besides several other private libraries. Nearly all of them were saved in a damaged condition.

   Upon the first floor was the supreme court library, rooms of the surrogate, county judge, supervisors' room, sheriff’s office, office of the county commissioners of schools and superintendent of the poor. The courtroom was located on the second floor. Above the two stories crowning the roof was the lofty dome surmounted by a small cupola, which was provided with an iron-railed platform. The cupola was surmounted by a noble figure of justice.

   The supreme court judges for the Sixth district have been: Judge Campbell of Cherry Valley; Charles Mason of Hamilton; Ransom Balcom of Binghamton, William H. Shankland of Cortland; John M. Parker of Owego; Douglas Boardman of Ithaca; William Murray of Delhi; David L. Follett of Norwich; Celora E. Martin of Binghamton; H. Boardman Smith of Elmira; Frank R. Gilbert: Garret A. Forbes of Canastota; Walter Lloyd Smith of Elmira.

   Judge Martin was re-elected and after him came Burr Mattice. Last year an additional judge was appointed in the person of George F. Lyon. When Celora E. Martin resigned, Burr Mattice was appointed to fill the vacancy, and has since been elected to the office.



Thomas P. Bristol Buys the Clothing Business of F. N. Harrington.

   There has been a business change on Main-st. in the purchase of the clothing and merchant tailoring store of F. N. Harrington by Thomas P. Bristol, late member of the dry goods firm of Case, Ruggles & Bristol. Mr. Bristol is a young man of activity and energy and has no desire to remain out of business. He took possession to-day and will carry a full line of goods to suit all classes in the merchant tailoring department. He will also have on hand all kinds of gentlemen's furnishing goods and will add a new line of hats and caps, which Mr. Harrington did not carry.

   Mr. E. B. DuChette, who for the past nine years has been a popular cutter at Harrington’s, will still be found behind the table, shears, chalk and tape measure in hand, and Mr. Ray Harrington will remain as a clerk.

   Mr. Bristol intends to carry a line of goods that will be calculated to please the trade and his many friends in this vicinity will be glad that he is again in business here, as that will insure the fact that he will not be induced to leave town by greater attractions elsewhere.

   Mr. Harrington is a veteran in the clothing line and there can be only regret that he should sell out the well established business, which he has been so long in building up. It is over twenty five years since he came to Cortland and engaged in trade. For two years he was located in the old Squires building, for six years more in the newer Squires building where Baker & Angell now are, for fifteen years in the Schermerhorn building and for two years, lacking one month, in the present store.

   Mr. Harrington assures us that he shall continue to reside in Cortland, and that he has no thought of going elsewhere. He says he was never idle a week in his life and he expects soon to be in business again of some kind here, but just what it is he is not yet prepared to state. He is a man highly respected and that he is well liked by his employees, as well as by those who have so long patronized him, is evidenced by the fact that one of the present employees of the tailoring department has worked for him seventeen years, and several others for periods nearly as long.



Broome County Courthouse:

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