The two buildings at 307-313 South Clinton Street were constructed in 1874. The smaller structure on the right served as a factory with lodgings, probably for its workers, on the upper floors. The building on the left was occupied by the Galvanized Iron Works as a foundry. The fifth floor and cornice were added in the early 1900s. The building later housed Milton’s Furniture Mart with office space above.
The 1992 Clinton Street fire
In 1992, a stubborn fire ripped through the top floor of this late nineteenth century era brick building. The fire left the top of the five-story building in a wreck of strewn machinery, charred wood and a sagging ceiling. Snow fell through the roof. Fire damaged the boarded off elevator shaft on the third and fourth floors. In the lower floors, water dripped from the ceilings.
The fire could be seen for miles. By the time the first fire engine arrived, smoke had traveled four blocks to the east, on South State Street. Flames shot 70 feet into the sky, and charcoal-colored smoke billowed from the arch-shaped windows forming a cloud about this building, known as the Ottley building at 307-313 S. Clinton Street.
The building had a rear, basement entrance to the old Witherill’s department store on South Salina Street. This building was owned and used at one time by the WItherill’s store. Approximately 50 firefighters spent nearly 2 ½ hours putting out the fire. Nobody was hurt. The fire started in the non-working freight-elevator shaft in the middle of the building. The blaze started in the third-floor of the shaft and shot upward. The shaft had been boarded off and covered with plasterboard.
In 1992, Michael Ottley rented the storefront for his mortgage company. The second floor was rented by First Contractors. And the Syracuse New Times was also located in this building, on the third floor.