Fire heavily damages historic former Pulaski library building; city says it will have to come down
A historic building in Rochester will have to be torn down after a fire early Wednesday morning caused heavy damage.
It was a 2-alarm fire at the corner of Hudson Avenue and Norton Street, the former Pulaski Library building, that was reported at about 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.
The cause of the fire is under investigation.
No one was injured as firefighters fought the flames for a couple of hours in a building which has been vacant for nearly three decades.
City officials said the two-story building now presents a danger, and will need to be razed.
City Historian Christine Ridarsky said the building was constructed in 1931, in what was then a city that had a large number of Polish immigrants and it was named after Revolutionary War hero, Casmir Pulaski.
“The building was both a historical icon in terms of its construction, it was an Italian Renaissance construction, which made it somewhat unique,” said Ridarsky. “It was only the second structure built as a permanent library in our community.” (The first was the Monroe branch library which opened the previous year, and is still open).
Ridarsky said the Pulaski library closed in 1994 as branches were consolidated, and she said the city has tried to get the property redeveloped, but parties that were interested were held back in part by the costs involved.
“There were a lot of efforts among both Polish community organizations, and neighborhood associations up in the area seeking funding,” noted Ridarsky, “and the city always supported those efforts. Unfortunately, the costs have just been so high that none of the efforts have been able to raise the kind of money that was necessary.”
Mayor Malik Evans released a statement saying that it “is a very unfortunate outcome for an important and historic building.”
Officials note that it is listed on the NY State and National Registers of Historic Places and was included on the Landmark Society’s ‘Five to Revive’ list in 2013.