Category Archives: Troy

Frear’s Troy Cash Bazaar

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Frear's in the Cannon Building

William H. Frear, at Cannon Place, has the personal distinction of possessing and conducting a larger retail dry-goods business than any merchant in a city of the United States of the same population as that of Troy. The patronage of “Frear’s Troy Bazaar” is not wholly local, for its fame attracts customers from all the cities, villages and rural districts of Eastern and Northern New York, Vermont, and Western Massachusetts. The people daily thronging the spacious salesrooms of the well-regulated establishment are not the only evidence of the magnitude of its business. More than twelve thousand letters and packages are received and transmitted monthly through the post-office. Four, and sometimes eight, wagons are engaged in delivering goods to purchasers in the city and its vicinity. From two hundred and fifty to three hundred persons are employed in the different departments of the large store. The annual cash sales of the retail departments exceed $1,000,000. The main salesroom, on the first floor, has a frontage of 100 feet on Washington Square, and a depth of 119 feet. The part extending to the Second Street entrances has a width of 44 feet and a depth of 130 feet. On the second floor are the cloak, shawl and suit departments, the upholstery department, and the kitchen furnishing department. On the Second Street third floor is the counting room. In the basement are the goods-receiving, the carpet, and the wholesale departments. In February, 1859, William H. Frear came to Troy, and, on March 1, entered as a salesman the dry-goods store of John Flagg, at No. 12 Fulton Street. On February 11, 1865, he and Sylvanus Haverly formed the partnership of Haverly & Frear. On March 9, that year, they opened a dry-goods store at No. 322 River Street. By articles of agreement drawn on January 29, 1868, John Flagg became a copartner on March 16, 1868; the firm taking the name of Flagg, Haverly, & Frear. On April 9, that year, the firm occupied the store-rooms Nos. 3 and 4 Cannon Place, vacated by Decker & Rice. On January 2, 1869, Sylvanus Haverly withdrew, and the firm-name was changed to that of Flagg & Frear. On the expiration of the partnership of Flagg & Frear, on March 1, 1874, William H. Frear came into possession of the business. In 1875, ’76, ’80, and ’84, he enlarged the establishment by renting and refitting adjoining rooms, so that at present he occupies Nos. 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 Cannon Place, and Nos. 13 and 15 Second Street.
     — “The City of Troy and Its Vicinity,” Arthur James Weise, 1886. 

Of course, Frear’s later moved from the still-standing Cannon Building up to Third and Fulton, where its palatial home with the magnificent iron staircase still stands.

Grab your two-wheeler

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Troy Bicycle Club 1886

From Weise’s “The City of Troy and its Vicinity”:

“Troy Bicycle Club, organized November 4, 1881, purchased the spacious Coliseum Building, on the south side of Federal Street, between Sixth and Eighth streets, in the early part of 1886, and fitted it for the purposes of the association. The clubhouse, built of brick, has a frontage of 93 feet and a depth of 101 feet. The riding room, adjacent the club-parlors, is 80 by 100 feet.”

Before they took over the Coliseum Building, long since gone, they met in the basement of the  Troy Savings Bank Music Hall:

1883: “The Troy Bicycle Club have
furnished handsome apartments in the basement of Music Hall, and justly
claim that their quarters are excelled by those of few similar
organizations in the country. There are a large wheel-room and parlor,
divided by a handsomely designed oak railing, a commodious toilet-room,
with baths, two large dressing-rooms, and a janitor’s room. The floors
are all of Georgia pine, finished in shellac, and varnished, and the
ceilings are in hard finish. The parlor is elegantly furnished with
ebony chairs and tiles upholstered in figured brown silk with
crimson silk trimmings, besides two elaborately wrought centre-tables,
one in polished oak and the other in ebony with marble top. An upright
piano graces one corner of the room, and walls are adorned with the
portraits of famous wheelmen, and with tasteful engravings. In one of
the dressing-rooms is a handsome and costly sideboard.”

When a house burned down

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Becks Pocket Guide of Troy NY 1935_Page_046.png

From Beck’s Pocket Guide to Troy, 1935, Andrew J. Smith wants to make sure you’ve got enough insurance to keep the neighborhood from talking behind your back. Note that in 1935, people wouldn’t think of going to a fire without a proper hat, and that for a summer fire, a straw boater was considered appropriate.

Rural Routes

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Becks Pocket Guide of Troy NY 1935_Page_073.png

Are there still rural routes? In the old days, if I wanted to send a letter to my aunt in West Glenville, I’d address it to her name, R.D. (rural delivery) #3, Amsterdam. The mailman who had that route was just expected to know who lived where – no road name was required. Imagine.

In this 1935 Beck’s Pocket Guide to Troy, they saw fit to publish the complete rural routes, road by road. Useful, I suppose, if you needed to chase down the mailman. And today a couple of them would still make for some nice bicycling routes.

By the way, Superintendent of Mails I.G. Flack sounds like a prank call name.

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Cash Buys Paste.

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City Bill Poster Troy 1895.png
What did Troy’s garage bands do in the days before staple guns and telephone poles? They called on Mrs. Dundon, City Bill Poster, who  pasted billsheets to the bricks of the Collar City. When this ad was published in 1895, the brush had been a power in the land for 26 years. Cash buys paste!

Stove Capital of the Country

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Buswell Durant stoves

Before collars, Troy’s fortune was made in iron works. The old forests of the Adirondacks fueled iron forges up and down the Champlain valley and beyond, but Troy emerged as the major iron manufacturing center in the state in the mid-1800s. And for a time Troy and nearby foundries were putting out huge proportion of the stoves in use in the country. This Rootsweb page excerpts the story of the industry from “Troy’s One Hundred Years,” and it’s notable that there were so many stove manufacturers that Buswell and Durant, who took this ad in the 1870 Rensselaer County Directory, don’t even make the list. (For those who are interested, this research paper lists literally dozens of stove manufacturers that set up shop in Troy, Albany and in between.)

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