Sunday, March 15, 2015

Fenton House Burned: Ellicottville, NY July 10, 1895

Courtesy Ellicottville Historical Society
The above photo shows the remnants of the Fenton House which burned July 10, 1895. It was the fifth building east of Monroe Street on Washington Street (formerly known as Main Street) in Ellicottville, New York, site of the old City Garage, where Coffee Culture now stands. 


A newspaper account found in the Ellicottville Post dated 10 July 1895 ("Fenton House Burned" pdf file accessed through fultonhistory.com) describes how the Fenton House on Main Street owned by Thomas Fenton burned to the ground that morning. Details from this account include the following facts: The hotel was a very large three-story frame structure built entirely of wood. Only five other persons were staying at the hotel at the time along with Mr. & Mrs. Fenton and their son Ray who was carried out in his nightclothes. Everyone escaped. The bell in St. John’s Church was used to give the alarm. The origin of the fire was unknown but was thought to have caught from the furnace underneath in which a small fire had been started the evening before. The fire was first discovered by a traveling salesman who was staying at the hotel, who was awakened by smoke filling his room.

The building was one of the oldest landmarks in Ellicottville built by Daniel Huntley in 1820, being one of the first buildings built there. It opened to the public the following year under the name of the Cattaraugus Mansion House. Mr. Huntley kept the hotel until his death in 1846 and it was continued by his family until 1872. The building was purchased by the late Q.E. Rust at about the time of the building of the railroad through the area and he rented it to Seth M. Hinman who changed the name to the Whitney House. Mr. Hinman was followed by several other tenants at various times until the structure was purchased by James Hughey. Mr. Hughey conducted the same for eight or nine years, selling out to Mr. Fenton some time ago who changed the name to the Fenton House.
Ray Fenton, ca. 1897. Photo courtesy Ellicottville Historical Society.

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