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Lens on History: A hot time on North Broadway

January 9, 2019
The 100 block of North Broadway in 1954 when a minor fire struck Pioneer Insurance Company owned by Fredrick and Walter Fitting.

Nothing draws a crowd like a column of smoke, especially if that column of smoke is in downtown Rochester.

In 1954, heavy smoke poured from the office at 15 N. Broadway — ironically the home of the Pioneer Insurance Company, owned by Fredrick and Walter Fitting. The fire was put out quickly and the damage was minor.

Unfortunately, 10 years later, the building to the south would not be so lucky. Built in 1917 as the McDonald Ford automobile agency, the walls were 1-foot-thick concrete with steel reinforcement and the second floor was designed to store cars.

That solid floor would become the perfect base when Recreation Bowling Lanes opened its 10-lane alley at 11 ½ N. Broadway.

In 1964, a fire at Rec Lanes would leave the building a burned-out shell until it was razed to build the Center Street Parking Ramp.

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