1858: The Astor House Hotel
walk east on Main walk west on Main Street

The Astor House was built on the site of the William Haskill property ( later occupied by H. H. Redfield Mansion, J. W. Bouton Mansion, and the Haskill Mansion) in 1831.  It was 180 ft. across the front with a store room in  the center and a dwelling house on each side.  The west end was occupied by its owner, John Holmes Thomas, until about 1850 or 52.  In 1843 A.N. Taylor formed a partnership with his father, and commenced business in the old Astor building.  He then moved to his farm. Then it was occupied by Dr. M. A. Sprague, then it was leased as a hotel, then leased to Henry William's, who occupied it until it burned.  The east end was kept as a hotel by David R. Bennett until 1848, then it was turned over to James Miller, who passed it over to William Haskill, who was the owner of the building at the time it was burned, March 28th, 1868


Fire at Smethport
Great Loss of Property

The Astor House Block, A.N. Taylor’s Store, Miss Nancy Holme’s building and the Barn & Co connected to the Astor House, entirely destroyed by fire.
The McKean Miner: March 28, 1868

On Tuesday morning last, the 24th at 20 minutes after one o’clock fire broke out through the roof of the Astor House barn, owned by William Haskell. The alarm of fire was given and in less than ten minutes more than fifty men were on the ground. Great expectations were made to stop the spread of the flames but all was in rain, the sheds of the barn connecting A. N. Taylor’s store on the east and the Astor House on the west, so thick it was impossible to stop the spread of the flames at the junction. Mr. Clinton Young, Mr. Taylor’s clerk, was still asleep in the store; having gone to bed very late and being very tired, he could not be wakened until after the store doors were broken open and they had got into the room where he was sleeping. After the doors were opened they immediately commenced carrying out the goods, and succeeded in getting out a good portion of the dry goods before the fire had got into the store room, it was apparently but a second before the whole inside of the building was in a blaze, and in less than twenty minutes the building was burned to the ground. Estimated loss about $25,000, Insurance $11,5000.
By the time Taylor’s store had fallen in, the east end of the Astor House was in flames. In the mean time the furniture which had been stored in the east end and belonged to Dr. Sprague, had all been removed with the exception of a couple of stoves. Mr. Wm. Haskell owned the Astor House, or the east end of the building. His estimated loss is about $3,000; insurance to almost cover loss.
The furniture, burned in the Williams House or in the west end of the Astor House building, belonging to Mr. H. F. Williams and Mr. G. M. Smith, was being removed as fast as possible, and although it was but a few minutes from the time the flames got into the east end of the building until it was entirely contained, nearly all the furniture, carpets, & provision was saved, although the furniture was materially damaged by moving. We understand that the Williams House had recently been sold by Mr. H. F Williams to Mr. G. Corwin and A. N. Taylor, who had barely insured it. The estimated loss is almost $9,000; insurance $5,000.
The building recently occupied by Mr. McCarty for a shoe shop owned by Miss Nancy Holmes, standing between the Astor House and A. N. Taylor’s store, was also destroyed. No insurance.
By covering the roofs with wet carpets and keeping them saturated with water the residence of Mrs. Milliken and Mr. H. Hamlis, on the opposite side of the street from the Astor House, were saved, although the furniture and contents of Mrs. Milliken’s house were all removed, and were considerably damaged. The residence of Byron D. Hamlin, Esq., on the east and the old “cash store” on the west were also saved, by covering the roofs with wet carpets and keeping them saturated with water.
The morning was a very favorable one, there being but very little if any air stirring. We have probably not had another such a calm, still morning this spring.
The fire seems to have been the work of an incendiary, and will undoubtedly be ferreted out.
We would here state that the citizens interested and owning property in the vicinity of the lat conflagration, with perhaps an exception, feel extremely grateful for the assistance rendered them in their hours of peril.

See painted panorama of Smethport 1858

Location 2003

photo credit: Phil Herzog

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