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A look at the Minton House, and its burning

February 25, 2016
By Marybelle Beigh - Westfield Historian , Westfield Republican

"SWEPT BY FIRE!" (Westfield Republican Nov. 24, 1909, Page 1)

One of the most climatic years in Westfield's History was 1909. "For the second time within a year, Westfield has been visited by a disastrous conflagration and an entire section of the business places are completely wiped out Shortly after 4 o'clock Thursday morning, November 18th, 1909, fire was discovered in the Westfield Garage, located in the Minton House barn and in spite of the heroic work of an efficient Fire Department, ably assisted by firemen from Fredonia and Brocton, who came by special trolley.

"The flames licked up the garage, E.M. Johnson's blacksmith shop, located in one of the Minton House barns, Minton House, F. C. Stitzinger's dwelling and barber shop, Baldwin & Taggart's livery stable, the Andrew Burns block, occupied by M. L. Harrington's Furniture Store, M.S. Kelley & Son's grocery, and the Ridgway Restaurant, E.F. Carpenter's Hardware store, Mrs. C.J. Bannister's building, all on Main Street, wiping out an entire row of business places on the North Side of Main Street from the Minton House up to Market street."

Article Photos

Photos courtesy of Patterson Library archives
This is a photo of the Minton House and nearby businesses taken during “Old Home Week” in September 1909, less than three months before the fire. The view is looking east from about Market Street toward the Methodist Church.

Although some Market Street buildings were damaged, the metal-clad building (gutted by the fire but which still stands in 2016, next door to Calarco's) halted the flames in that direction. The building at the corner of Market and Main was intentionally blown up to stop the flames from reaching across Market and continuing up Main Street. Several families lived above some of the stores, but all residents were saved; community members helped remove belongings and merchandise from several buildings and stacked further west along Main Street, with guards posted. The fire was first discovered and the alarm turned in by Mrs. J.G. Patchen who lived just back of the Minton House, on Clinton Street.

According to this newspaper account of the fire, the "historic Minton House was built by William Cornwall in 1834-5. Research of digitized Westfield Republican newspapers, back to 1874, has located the following information. In the March 28, 1877 issue, "Messrs. John C. and Wm. M. Minton have leased the Minton House of J.H. Minton, and after April 1st take full possession and control of the same."

Starting in January 1876, the Minton House (formerly Jones House) ads begin. A large ad in July 1874, states "I offer for sale my lease of the Jones House O. Jones, Westfield, N.Y." But it wasn't until October 1975 that the Jones House was advertised to go up for auction; J.H. Minton won the bidding, apparently at a "ruinously cheap" price of $4,575. The November 3, 1875 article notes: "The property, as completed in 1869, cost Deloss Jones the sum of $17,000." J.H. Minton did a thorough renovation before reopening as the "Minton House" in January, 1876. Ads in the December 1875 Westfield Republicans state: "Important Sale! Having purchased the Jones House I now offer for sale my Fine Residence, Corner Second & Union Sts J.H. Minton."



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