FROM THE FILES OF THE HURLEYVILLE SENTINEL
Compiled by Sullivan County Historian John Conway _____________________________________________________________________________________________
April 15, 1938
Fire Destroys Elmshade Hotel in Fallsburg
Fanned by a strong wind, flames destroyed the 110-room main building of the Elm Shade Hotel near Fallsburg on Sunday. The loss was estimated at $125,000.
The hotel had recently been opened in preparation for a busy Easter week and seven guests had already arrived when the fire was discovered, shortly after 11 a.m. Most of them, as well as the dozen employees and family of the proprietor, lost all their possessions as the flames spread quickly through the stucco-covered frame building.
Aside from Joseph Stern, South Fallsburg police chief and fire captain, who was overcome by smoke in the cellar where the fire is believed to have started, no one was injured. Chief Stern was picked up by other members of his department who brought him outdoors, where he was quickly revived; he returned to fight the fire, the cause of which was undetermined.
Arthur Williams, the hotel’s bell-boy, discovered the fire in the cellar near the oil-burner and sounded the alarm. South Fallsburg companies responded first and laid two lines to the Neversink River, 1,000 feet away. Next in order came companies from Woodridge, Mountaindale, Monticello and Woodbourne, but the flames soon escaped control despite efforts of all firemen.
The blaze roared through the building and ate through floors and ceilings. As floors and walls of the four-story structure collapsed, steam radiators dropped through to the basement or fell out through the crumbling walls.
A hotel built on the same site in 1920 burned a year later. It was reconstructed. In 1929, it was greatly altered and enlarged, so that its 210-foot frontage then made it the widest hotel in Sullivan County. It was at that time valued at considerably more than $100,000.
When the Monticello firemen arrived, Chief Robert York and Assistant Chief Floyd Brown concluded that the main building was beyond saving; they directed their men to keep the fire from spreading to the nearby social hall, a large structure that was saved and then turned to the main building.
The fire continued to burn till after dark Sunday evening. South Fallsburg firemen, last to leave the scene, returned home tired and hungry.
Morris Kaufman was owner of the hotel, and his partner in its operation was Harry Cherkoff, both of whom lived in New York for the winter. The Kaufman family had been at the hotel more than a week, however, to prepare the place for Easter occupancy. Cherkoff arrived just before the fire started.
April 22, 1938
Strict Sunday Closing Laws For Monticello; Mayor de Hoyos Orders Rigid Enforcement of Sunday Ban on Retail Trade
Responsibility for enforcement of the State Sunday closing law, an annual summer problem at Monticello, seldom presented before June, has been placed directly on the new police force by Mayor Luis de Hoyos, it was learned this week.
A resolution of a Grand Jury last July, which investigated complaints of religious groups there, criticized laxity in enforcement.
“You are hereby directed,” the Mayor’s written orders to all police read, “to see that at 12 o’clock sharp on Saturday nights all stores are closed and that no store is open Sunday excepting those authorized by law. The police force will be held responsible unless enforcement is carried out according to the law. In case of doubt as to the law, you may telephone the Mayor or acting Mayor for instructions.”
The order was relayed to all policemen by Chief Grant Davison, who explained that articles of food may be sold Sunday until 10 a.m., but restaurants may be open all day. Articles that may be sold all day are prepared tobacco, milk, eggs, ice, carbonated water, fruit, flower, candy, souvenirs, newspapers, gasoline, tires, drugs, medicines and surgical instruments. Delicatessen dealers and bakeries may conduct business until 10 a.m. and between the hours of 4 and 7:30 p.m. on Sunday.
In the summer of 1936, businessmen in Monticello obtained a temporary injunction restraining police from enforcing the Sunday closing law. The injunction was returnable in Supreme Court in September, after the summer season has ended.
Vigorous objection to enforcement is expected from retailers in the village, who have repeatedly pointed out that their existence depends entirely on the earning every possible dollar during the ten-weeks summer season, and loss of Sunday trade would be fatal.
April 29, 1938
New Highway Machinery Ordered For Fallsburg
At a meeting of the town board on Monday evening, a resolution was passed for the purchase of a new gasoline roller for the Town of Fallsburg at a cost of $5,025. The machinery will be purchased from the Springfield Roller Co. of Springfield, Ohio, and delivery is expected next week. Officials declare that work on town highways will be greatly expedited with the aid of the new equipment.
A committee of business men representing the Chamber of Commerce of South Fallsburg presented several recommendations to the board which included the request for twenty-four hour police protection for the village during the summer months.