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The Many Fires of Sharon Springs

by Sandra Manko

About this Event

The sheer number of fires in the Village of Sharon Springs is disconcerting to people who have lived here for years and witnessed not only the destruction and financial losses, but the vanishing architecture as well. Visitors come here and see the vacant lots where historic buildings once stood and question, “What happened to Sharon Springs?” Some buildings were massive and took up an entire block. In several cases, total blocks were lost to fire. The vacant lots in the lower Village and the gaps in the streetscapes are grim reminders of the splendid hotels, bathhouses and boarding houses that once stood there.

Many early fires were the result of inadequate firefighting equipment. The fire bucket brigades of the late-1800s were overwhelmed with the size of the fires in three- and four-story structures. The buildings were in close proximity to each other and fires affected more than one building. Early construction was generally wooden and heated by wood or coal stoves, lighted by kerosene lamps and candles. Countless fires had mysterious origins, such as blazes during the winter months or off-season when hotels and boarding houses were unoccupied and the electricity was shut off.

The intent of this book is to document the fires in the Village and the loss of historic buildings and unique architecture. The loss of personal property and insurance claims can’t even begin to be computed – it is in the millions of dollars, many times over. The book gives credit to the many volunteers of the Fire Department, Auxiliary, and Rescue Squad who have served the community and continue to serve us every day. It’s an opportune time to credit the firemen who put their lives on the line to protect the safety of the community. They are the “everyday” heroes we all take for granted.

Join Sharon Historical Society Vice President Sandra Manko as she talks about her latest book on the Fires of Sharon Springs. Sandy is an active member of the Sharon Historical Society and has authored or co-authored 9 books about Sharon’s local history as well as written several historical articles for various publications. She is serving her 13th year as Sharon Town Supervisor and represents the Town of Sharon on the Schoharie County Board of Supervisors.

For a copy of a map of the Village of Sharon Springs, click here.