Saturday, April 28, 2012

Main Street Stories: Palmer's Rink

The buildings at 409, 411 and 413 South Main Street are part of a structure built in 1884 that was originally known as Palmer's Palace Rink.  Rochester merchant Louis Eugene Palmer broke ground for a roller skating rink on this site in November 1884.  The Rochester Era described the project:
L.E. Palmer has broken ground for a brick skating rink on Main st. adjoining his new store on the north [his new store was the building at 405-407 S. Main, which he had built in 1883]. The skating floor will be 45x110 ft. in the clear, with truss-roof, so that nothing will interfere with the skaters. In addition there will be an office and spectators gallery 15x50 ft. and a barber shop of the same dimensions.
The grand opening of Palmer's Palace Rink was held in February 1885, with the eighteen-piece Rochester Cornet Band providing the music.  Palmer had caught the tail-end of the the roller skating craze that was sweeping the nation at the time, however; within five years he was using the rink as a dance hall instead, and had partitioned the front part of the building, along Main Street, into storefronts. According to newspaper accounts in the Rochester Era, Palmer enclosed the southeast corner of the rink for his jewelry store in 1886, and the northeast corner was enclosed for a barber shop in 1887.  The center section, on the Main Street side, had been a barber shop from the beginning.  By 1919, the rear portion of the rink building was gone, and the only part that remained of Palmer's Palace Rink was the three small, one-story storefronts along Main Street, which we know today as 409, 411 and 413 S. Main.

Over the years, 409 S. Main was occupied by jewelry stores for much of the time. Louis Palmer had his jewelry business there in 1886, and his daughter, Pauline Palmer, had her own jewelry there in the 1950s.  In the late 1950s, Lamoreaux Jewelry was there, and Lamoreaux was followed by Heller's Jewelry in 1961. The center section of the rink, known today as 411 S. Main and currently occupied by the Spy Shop, was originally John Hartwell's barber shop. Around 1900 it was George Axford's tobacco shop, then Miller's Bakery in the 1920s and 1930s. It was Rochester Refrigeration and Clarence's Appliances in the 1950s and early 1960s, and Symar Locksmiths from the late 1960s to the early 1990s. The north section of the building, at 413 S. Main, has housed the Arnold & Schultz meat market around 1900, the LeBlond & Tietz Butcher Shop in 1915, Stackhouse Brothers meats in the 1920s and 1930s, Fred S. Palmer Jewelry and Optometry in the 1950s, and Marvin Weisman Optometry from the late 1950s to the late 1980s.

The photo shown here was taken in front of a portion of the Palmer's Palace Rink building some time after the three storefronts had been enclosed. It is used here with permission from Dorene Dobat Whitbey and is part of her family photo collection. The man shown with the cow in the foreground is Christopher Dobat.  Notice the condition of the Main Street road bed at the time, as well as the reflection of the Masonic Block building, which stood across the street from this location, seen in the store windows.

My thanks to Dorene Dobat Whitbey for permission to publish this historic photograph.

1 comment:

  1. 411 Main, from the early to late 60s was the home of Symar Bicycle Shop. Remember the stickers they attached to the seat stem highlighting the shop's phone number: 65-BIKES?