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Keeler's Korner: 1908

Keeler's Korner: 1908

1908. "Keeler's Hotel, Albany, N.Y." The fire-escape-festooned establishment last glimpsed here. 8x10 inch dry plate glass negative, Detroit Publishing Company. View full size.


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As I suspected...

William Keeler died in 1918, and as it turned out his hotel did not outlive him by very long. Just over a year later, the building burned in an early-morning fire on June 17, 1919. The fire was detected around 3:00 am, and within two hours the entire building was destroyed in what newspapers described as “one of the most spectacular [fires] in the city’s history.” The hotel’s 226 guests were all able to get out of the building, thanks in part to the abundance of fire escapes as shown in the first photo. Newspaper accounts also give credit to the hotel’s telephone operator Anna Briggam, who remained at the switchboard as long as she could, in order to call the rooms and awaken sleeping guests. However, one firefighter was killed in the blaze, after a wall collapsed on top of him.

More on William Keeler and the hotel here:

Gardner Cotrell Leonard

In the late 19th century, Gardner Cotrell Leonard developed the system for Academic Regalia; graduation caps and gowns used in American colleges and universities and produced and sold the caps and gowns via his family's dry goods business: Cotrell & Leonard of Albany, NY. The firm, a retailer of furs, shoes and hats, located at Nos. 472-478 Broadway, Albany, NY, produced academic costume, caps, gowns and hoods, pulpit and choir gowns and judges' gowns. G.C. Leonard was also editor of "Songs of Williams" a collection of songs sung at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

Joshua Cotrell, grandfather of Gardner, established his store selling fur hats and caps at on South Market St. (Broadway) in 1832. By 1848 his prosperous business had moved to State St. In the late 1860s his son Edgar and son-in-law Daniel Leonard came into the business; upon Joshua’s death the late 1870s they changed the firm name to Cotrell and Leonard, In 1884, the company, much expanded and selling a full range of furs, traveling garments and accessories, moved to the Broadway address ( where Tricentennial Park is located today).

Fire escape confusion

It's obvious how a guest of this hotel might get to the second floor, but for the life of me I can't see how they might get from there to the sidewalk. That's a long jump.

First Floor Ladders

Doesn't seem to be any way to get from the first floor to the ground unless someone shows up with a ladder. Either that or I am missing something.

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