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Hillsdale's Lost Buildings


Fire was an ever-present hazard for communities in the day of wooden buildings when balloon construction was the norm. Hillsdale NY has lost more than its share of venerable old structures and on just one evening, November 6th, 1927, fire destroyed two prominent Hillsdale buildings.

“The Hall” on Anthony Street, the center of Hillsdale’s social life, and the First Presbyterian Church on Cold Water Street, both were razed as a fire that originated in the Hall raged out of control.

An article written by Charles Porteous recalled the drama of the day. He and his family were at dinner in their apartment over his father’s hardware store when his sister remarked that someone had left the lights on in the Hall. By the time an alarm was sounded, a fire started by an over-heated furnace had already burned up through the auditorium’s stage.

The old building was used for town meetings, storage of town records, a barber shop, a performance and dance space, and, on the third floor, private meeting rooms for the Masonic Temple and the Eastern Star.

The building was soon deemed to be a total loss and firefighters from nine towns concentrated on saving buildings on either side. They managed to stop it from consuming a meat market next door but could not save the Presbyterian Church on the other side of the Hall where the Masonic Temple now stands. Constructed in 1833 and remodeled in 1851, the church faced north and was home to a vibrant congregation.

Little was saved from either building although some pews were carried out of the church before it was consumed. They are used in today’s town hall.