Mexico House in the early 1900s. Mexico Historical Society.
Thursday, November 4, 1937
Fire Destroys Old Landmark
Built in 1823, Mexico Hotel
Important Building in
One of the most famous Mexico landmarks was destroyed when fire of undetermined origin gutted the interior of the Sinclair Oil company at Main and Church streets Sunday morning and threatened a large area of the southwest residential section as a high north wind hurled flames and burning embers high into the air.
Flames were already eating rapidly through the second floor of the old painted brick building, formerly the Mexico Hotel, when Jesse Horton, proprietor of a restaurant across the street, discovered the fire at 6:40 a.m.
The fire gave Mexico volunteer firemen a stiff three-hour battle and it was only the capable work on the part of Chief Orson Pond and members of the Volunteer Corps which kept the flames from reaching the two-story home of Newton Parsons, about 20 feet south of the building.
At no time was the fire out of control, only danger of its spreading was by the wind which carried smoke and burning cinders over the southern part of Mexico.
No cause can be given for the fire which started, Chief Pond said, on the second floor, probably in the northwest corner. Sinclair Oil company officials said there were no fires burning in the building over night.
The brick walls of he old structure confined the heat and flames to its interior. The Town Hall, approximately 50 feet from the burning building was protected by fire proof walls and roof.
Four lines of hose, totally 2,00 get, were connected from a hydrant in front of the building and from a pumper connection on the Niagara Hudson Power company office in Main street. Two hoses were played on the blaze from Church street, another from Main street and a fourth from the rear of the building.
Mrs. Fred Ruth, Mrs. Clifford Ruth and Mrs. Glenn Walton thoughtfully furnished sandwiches and coffee to the firemen fighting the fire.
The building was 100 feet long on Church street and 60 feet on Main street. The second floor where the flames re alleged to have broke out has been unoccupied for some time, two families formerly making their home there. Part of the building had been used as a garage several years ago and another part for storage.
Damage was estimated at $4.000, partially covered by insurance.
One of the oldest buildings in the Mexico business section, the old hotel has had an interesting and varied career. The following history of the building, up to the period of 1870, has been submitted by Mrs. Frank Munson and Mis Ida Patten.
"The first regular hotel in Mexico village was erected on the site of the Mexico House by Mathias Whitney in 1823, and was succeeded by a better building which was burned July 22, 1864, while being conducted by Albin Meyers.
At the peak of its glory during days of stage coaches, Mexico hotel was one of the principal stopping places on the Watertown - Oswego post road. Mail carriers between the two villages would dash up to the hotel on horse back, change horses and clatter off again down the road.
Previous to Albin Meyers, the landlords were A.S. Chamberlain and Robbins, and J.B. Taylor. The hotel was rebuilt in 1865 and reopened by Ira Biddlecome, who in 1866 was followed by J.B. Davis. In January 1867 it passed into the hands of C.S. Mayo, whose name it bore for several years.
The appearance of the hotel was much different in those days, long covered porches running around both the upper and lower stories."
Landlords changed rapidly after Mayor left the hotel and some of their names have been forgotten in the long years which have followed.
Mr. William Sherman recalls that James "Jim" Sullivan was proprietor of the hotel during its most prosperous period, 52 years ago. The Mexico Fire Company had just been reorganized at the time and had bought a new steamer engine. Because Sullivan contributed to the fund raised by the firemen, one of the hoses was named after him.
The livery stables which once stood between the Hotel and the Town Hall have been torn down for 20 or more years.
Benjamin Nobles bought out Sullivan after the latter had operated the hotel for 15 years. Gantley sold the business to Ward See, the most recent proprietor of the much bought-and-sold hostelry. The building has not been operated as a hotel for the past 15 or 20 years.
For the past 10 years the building has been operated as a filling station, formerly by Anson McNett, manager for Fay C. Adams. The Sinclair Oil Refining company bought the building in 1931 from Fay Adams and leased it to Harold Fish. Recently the station has been in charge of Charles Vault.