Devastating Fire in History of Downtown Geneva, Illinois

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Devastating Fire in History of Downtown Geneva, Illinois

1953 Geneva CleanersThe Geneva Ace Hardware fire in 1953 burns to the ground most of the south side of the 100 block of West State Street, including the First National Bank.

On the bitter cold and windy night of Sunday, Feb. 1, 1953, the clock at the First National Bank of Geneva stopped at 7:45 p.m., marking the apex of the Geneva Ace Hardware fire—very likely the worst downtown fire in Geneva history.

And though he was just a boy at the time, longtime Tri-Com Central Dispatch Director Jerry Bleck, now retired, carries memories of the devastation to this day and compares it to the other well-known Geneva downtown fires.

1953 Geneva Cleaners“I was only 4 years old in 1953, so a little young to have many of the fire details,” Bleck said in an e-mail to Geneva Patch. “However, I had been working for the Geneva Police Department for eight years and Tri-Com and 9-1-1 was just 2 years old when the Kaiser’s Dime Store fire occurred in 1978.

“Downtown State Street has seen many disastrous fires, including the Coryell’s Tri-City Radio Shop fire, the fire in the apartments above the Little Owl, and the fire at the Fox Valley Restaurant that I do remember.”

But the fire in 1953 probably was the worst, Bleck said.

Geneva Cleaners Rebuild 1953
                     Geneva Cleaners Rebuild 1953

“Most of the south side of the 100 block of West State Street burned to the ground, including the First National Bank. The damage to the bank was far worse than the fire at the State Bank of Geneva this last October.”

The Kaiser Dime Store fire in 200 block of West State Street and the Coryell Tri-City Radio Store fire in the 0-99 block of West State State took place in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Bleck said.

Geneva Cleaners 1953 Page 0 (2)

Geneva Patch Original Article January 2013 – Click here for article and credits.

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