Saturday, May 26, 2012

More Musings on the D & C Building Ghost

During a recent historical walking tour conducted by the Rochester Avon Historical Society, the subject of the D & C building's ghost was mentioned.  Over the years, many people have reported encountering evidence of a ghost in the building -  now occupied by the Rojo Mexican Bistro -  and have speculated about the identity of the restless spirit or how it might be connected to the history of the beloved dime store. As the property's history was discussed during the tour, it occurred to me that most of the speculation about the ghost has centered around the D & C building - which was constructed in 1940. But what if the ghost predates the D & C and is connected to an earlier event that took place at the corner of Fourth and Main?

The Lambertson block stood on the location where the D &C (now Rojo) building is today.  Built in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it housed George C. Dennis's drug store for nearly three decades, and Dennis, a bachelor who lived alone, occupied the rooms above the business, as was common for merchants in those days.  In 1911, with his business failing and about to be seized by his creditors, George C. Dennis committed suicide by swallowing poison.  The shocking news was carried in newspapers around the state, and the Flint Journal reported the sad story on August 25, 1911:
Facing financial ruin after a lifetime of toil proved too much for George C. Dennis, Rochester's pioneer business man, and rather than confront the creditors who were to meet yesterday morning to take over his drug business, he ended his life in the rooms over the store where for 25 years he had lived alone.

Mr. Dennis swallowed a large amount of opium and corrosive sublimate and slashed his left wrist repeatedly with a razor.

The owner of the store building heard moaning in the druggist's apartments when he opened his place of business. On investigation he found Mr. Dennis unconscious but writhing on the floor of his room. Physicians were called, but the man died at 9:30.

The Journal's reporter went on to speculate that times had passed George Dennis by, and that he had become marginalized as a business man:
For many years the drug business was profitable, but of late the old methods employed by Mr. Dennis proved too slow. Little by little, business dropped off until only a few of the older residents and close friends patronized the quiet old man. He became more deeply involved financially each year, and finally yesterday was set for a meeting of the creditors to take over the stock and fixtures in an effort to satisfy their claims. Mr. Dennis had provised to attend the meeting, but evidently during the night decided he could not face the ordeal.

Perhaps it is the tortured spirit of the late Rochester druggist that still haunts the corner of Fourth and Main, where he worked for so many years and tragically died. Is George C. Dennis the D & C ghost?

This portrait of George C. Dennis is from an 1907 promotional booklet entitled Rochester: A Sketch of One of the Best Towns on the Map.

No comments:

Post a Comment