Hoos Building Fire - 11/20/2012

Livingston Manor has long had a flare for the dramatic, the usual episodes being water related. Yesterday afternoon, however, added a new chapter in Manor misery; fire

In what sounded like the repeated percussion of cannons, the propane tanks alongside the Hoos building exploded, sending shock waves that broke windows and could be felt throughout the downtown section of the village as far away as Peck's Market. The explosions were either caused by or resulted in turning the old building into a conflagration that took volunteer firemen from at least four companies almost three hours to battle and finally put out the last of the flames.

Much of the building is now only a pile of smoldering ruins, with only the front portion of the structure, the addition that once housed the United Cigar Store and the tall chimney in the back portion still standing. The old garage next to the building also caught fire and was destroyed.

Being at the center of town, the fire disrupted traffic all afternoon and into the evening. Also, being the crossroads of the village's electric power grid, electric service was disrupted, plunging much of the village into darkness. - Fred

This is so sad. I can still remember eating and shopping in the United Cigar when I was a boy. I was happy to hear no one was hurt in the fire, but saddened by the loss of a landmark from my early days. I hope you all have a good Thanksgiving.
Jim (The Morsston House)
I am so sorry for the loss of the Hoos Building! Roscoe Ambulance was there, (Jason Welton) and he said the force of the explosion knocked firemen down like ten-pins. Apparently there was a re-kindle early this morning as I heard Manor's ambulance tones go out to stand-by. The pictures in the Times-Herald Record are frightening, and the ones posted today of the aftermath, are so sad.
We all grieve to have such misfortune hit Manor! Let me know if help is needed. - Joyce
The pile of charred debris at the corner of Main and Pearl streets, where the Hoos Building once stood, still remains on the site, waiting to be carted away. Its been almost a week since the conflagration devoured one of the few remaining landmark buildings in the village, and yet gawkers still marvel at the total destruction and residents continue to reminisce over the many shops that were once located in the building.
The Hoos Bakery, of course, was the longest running establishment on the premises. Ernest Hoos, who operated a bakery at Liberty in the latter decades of the nineteenth century, began to expand his franchise when he erected the building at the Manor in 1903. His son, Fred, operated the Manor business while Fred's brothers opened businesses in Jeffersonville and Delhi. For the next eighty-seven years the bakery business in the Manor remained within the Hoos family, until Ed and Alice Hoos finally closed its shops and retired in 1990. - Fred


Now with the Hoos Building gone, the landscape of Livingston Manor has been altered. Before the fire, when approaching the center of the village along lower Main Street, the Hoos Building was always in full view. This has been the case for the past one hundred and ten years. Now, after the fire, the hardware store building now comes into view from this same perspective.
The hardware store is the oldest existing building on Livingston Manor's Main Street. Built in 1874 by the firm of Divine, DuBois & Co., it became the tin and stove shop of one of the young partners of the firm, James G Stevens. Its original location was about fifty feet up the street [where the Manor Restaurant would later be located and which is now a vacant lot] but after Stevens erected his residence behind the shop, the latter building was rolled the short distance to the bank of the Little Beaverkill and its current location. - Fred


Main Street of Livingston Manor, during the latter 1940's, showing the Hoos Building at the intersection in the center of the village. - Fred


With the fiery demise of the Hoos Building, the pile of charred ruins remind us all of the various shops and businesses that were once located on that busy street corner. The most popular, of course, would have been Odie's United Cigar Store. It was here where you would pick up the morning newspapers and have your morning coffee, along with some freshly baked item still warm from recently coming out of the Hoos Bakery ovens next door. The booths situated along the long wall of windows were favorite congregating points. Their vantage point of overlooking Main Street offered a commanding view of the happenings down town. Hamburgers seemed to be continually sizzling on the grill behind the luncheonette, each stool at the counter taken up by patrons as Odie, Ruby and Judy busily prepared lunch orders. The constant whirling of the blender was evidence that milk shakes of various flavors were popular amongst the United's customers. Chocolate malts were a particular favorite on mine.
Though a relatively small shop by today's standards, the rows of shelving at the United were filled with just about everything residents of a small community needed, everything from glue models-kits to ice skates to rifles and gun ammunition. Odie sold me my first camera, a Kodak Pony, and got me hooked into picture taking with Ecktrochrome film. He then had to sell me the slide projector to show the slides. My baseball card collection began at the United, as did the purchase of my first baseball glove.
Odie's was the gathering place for school children after school. Waiting for the late after-school basketball practice or just filling the time before the evening's game at the school, the booths were filled with young ball-players, cheerleaders and their friends. The spritzing and gurgling of the "Coke" soda dispenser seemed never to end during these visits.
I'm certain earlier and succeeding generations all have their own memories of the United. For those of us who fondly remember these times, the loss of the Hoos Building is like the saying goodby to an old friend. Time will eventually heal this sense of sadness as memories fade away and, hopefully, the corner is allowed to be restored in some fashion. - Fred