History Alive

| 21 Feb 2012 | 10:46

    Monroe - Pictured in today's article is the four- story Reed building which was nicknamed the Centennial Building during the 100th anniversary of the Village of Monroe in 1994. We gave it that name because this building was constructed for George Reed in 1894, the date can be seen near the top of the building. The building was built after the disastrous fire of 1892, which destroyed a portion of the business district. Even during the construction of this building another fire occurred doing some interior damage. If you take some time one day, walk down Lake Street in the village, you may find some hidden treasures on the tops of a number of the buildings. The building we are discussing today is very unique and I am sure it would have been described as a modern design in its day. Just look up and examine its features, each story is different with various designs in the windows, nothing I have ever seen any place else. Who designed the building, I do not know, but if I had to give you my guess, it would have been Washington I. Hall. Two reasons: Mr. Hall who lived in the old village was an architect and builder who designed many of the buildings in Monroe, and he was married to Belle Reed, sister of George Reed. Looking at the picture you see a four-story building and to the right a three-story building, built of similar materials. They are two separate buildings; the one on the right was built and owned by George Conklin who died in 1909, another prominent businessman who we will cover on another day. The building on the right has some of the same features as the Reed building, but to a lesser degree. The structure on top of the Reed building in the early photograph c1908 was a water tower. The Village Drug Store was owned by Monigle & Rogers from Middletown, who owned a chain of drug stores in the county, and also distributed drugs. They would later change the name to Roger's Drug Store, which would later move next door into the Conklin Building. The drug store manager Gilbert Palen would purchase the Monroe store in the 1940's. After Mr. Palen's death the store would be moved two more times before going out of business The man who built this building, George E. Reed, was born in England on February 3, 1862. His father moved to Orange County when he was only two years of age. His father, Nicholas Reed, was superintendent of the copper and lead mines in Otisville, NY, coming to Monroe 7 years later when he became superintendent of the O'Neill mine in Monroe. After the mines closed his father opened a bakery that was located to the right of the village hall on the entrance ramp to the parking lot. During his lifetime in Monroe, George Reed conducted various businesses in the following places: Greenwood Lake, a grocery and general store; in Chester, a bakery and grocery store; in Monroe, a bakery, grocery, drug store and printing business. In 1876 at the age of fourteen he went into partnership with Gates McGarrah, then thirteen, in the printing business, here they had to set the type by hand and operate the press by hand Their work consisted mainly of printing business, calling cards and letterheads. They finally gained the work of the Town of Monroe. They where entrusted to print the ballots for the fall lection. An error was made during the setup and they turned out a split ballot. The work was quickly turned over to another printer. They conducted the business as partners always with a profit until 1881 when Mr. McGarrah went off to normal school. Gates McGarrah went on to become the first head of the Bank for International Settlements Basle, Switzerland and was a former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. He maintained a large mansion in Goshen, which still stands east of the village on Route 207. Mr. Reed would continue the printing business and publish a four page newspaper, the Monroe Gleaner, using an old Washington type hand press up until about 1905 when he discontinued the business because it was too hard to find reliable typesetters. George Reed was a respected member of the community. He was one of the largest holders of real estate in the village and town. At the time of his death he was building his new home in the old village of Monroe. George Reed died at his home in Monroe on July 12, 1928. He was married to Carrie Fitzgerald, and they had no children. His wife, five brothers and sisters survived him at the time of his death.