The Hogan Block was a commercial block built in two stages in 1895 by attorney Thomas Hogan. It housed a warehouse, a retail business, and a restaurant. Charles Colton designed it in the Second Renaissance Revival style. A characteristic feature is the different articulation of each floor. Extensive renovations from 1985 to 1987 have created new space for retail, offices, and residential uses.
Syracuse was almost destroyed one spring day by a fire that started on this spot. In the 19th century, fires could inflict major damage to cities, such as the 1871 fire that destroyed 3 square miles of downtown Chicago. Early on the morning of March, 14, 1891, a fire was discovered in the Hogan Block. A gale was blowing from the west that day, and soon the flames were shooting dozens of feet in the air, spreading sparks and burning embers across downtown.
Hogan Block Fire in 1891
Without warning, a second fire broke out a few blocks to the east, on Washington Street, in front of City Hall and adjacent to the large Vanderbilt Hotel. Calls went out to nearby cities to send additional equipment. Fortunately, the New York Central Railroad’s track ran down the middle of Washington Street and two of their locomotive mounted fire apparatus helped save the hotel. Unfortunately, the entire Montgomery Flats Apartment Building, next door, burned to the ground. Men and equipment also arrived from Rome, Fulton, Oswego, Utica and Canastota.
The Hogan Block after the 1891 fire
Back at the Hogan Block, flames had also leaped across to the other side of Franklin Street, where the parking garage is located today. Due to the heroic work of many, the fires were under control by the afternoon. Although most of downtown was saved, and no one was injured, there were several buildings and businesses ruined. Costs were estimated at $1 million – equivalent to more than $25 million today. It remains one of the most one of the most damaging fires in Syracuse history. The Hogan Block was soon rebuilt and its infamous legacy mostly forgotten today.